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As more Americans get the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s a growing body of data on what after-effects patients are likely to experience—some of which may be so concerning to them that they visit your urgent care center. Recognizing those concerns, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published patient-friendly guidance on what can be expected post-shot, as well as self-care recommendations and advice on when it makes sense to see a healthcare provider. Pain, redness, and swelling at the vaccination site are considered to be normal, as are whole-body effects such as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. The CDC recommends ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, and antihistamines to sooth discomfort. Let patients know they should return if injection-site effects get worse after 24 hours, or if other effects linger more than a few days. Finally, remind them that it takes approximately 2 weeks for the full protective effects of the vaccine to take hold, so maintaining safety standards is essential for them and for the people around them.

New Data on COVID-19 Vaccine After-Effects—What’s Expected, and What’s Cause for Concern