COVID-19 vaccine: Can you take Tylenol, Motrin before, after your vaccination?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that it is safe to take a pain reliever when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination, but when you take it can make a difference.

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The CDC recommends that you do not take a pain reliever prior to getting the vaccine, but wait until after your shot to take medication such as Tylenol to ease any discomfort you may experience.

“Antipyretic or analgesic medications (e.g., acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be taken for the treatment of post-vaccination local or systemic symptoms, if medically appropriate,” the CDC guidance reads.

The CDC guidance goes on to say that anyone getting the vaccine should also avoid taking an antihistamine prior to getting the vaccine.

According to a study from the Journal of Virology, the reason for waiting to take a pain reliever comes from studies that suggest some medication could interfere with your body’s ability to generate a strong immune-system response.

An ingredient in the over-the-counter pain medicines blocks a hormone in your body that triggers your body’s response to pain or infection. When pain medication blocks the hormones – called prostaglandins – pain can be relieved, but the process your body uses to ramp up antibodies to fight infection and inflammation can be dampened.

A study from the University of California Irvine also warns against taking pain relievers before your get the vaccine.

According to UCI’s website, “Taking over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen before receiving a vaccine may reduce its ability to work and blunt your immune response to the vaccine.”

“After the vaccination, don’t hesitate to take an over-the-counter medication if you have symptoms that make you uncomfortable.”

The dampening effect in the immune response that is seen in adults does not appear to be a factor for children. A study of 5,000 children showed that pain relievers had little effect on a child’s immune response when given prior to a vaccination.

Neither of the two companies providing vaccines -- Pfizer and Moderna – have offered any guidance on taking pain relievers in connection with their products.

Those getting the vaccine should consult their doctor for advice on taking pain relief medication prior to getting the vaccine.

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