Getting a Covid-19 vaccine is definitely something a lot of us have on our minds at the moment. And there is a lot to consider, not least, which vaccine to go for, what is covered under our health insurance and should there be any side effects requiring treatment. As it’s so important to be well-informed, here are some things to be aware of when making your decisions and to help you prepare before your vaccination and be prepared for what may come after.
Should You See a Doctor Before Getting Vaccinated Against Covid-19?
Each person is different and getting a vaccine can alter our immune system and body functions accordingly. To prevent any severe post-vaccine symptoms, those with any of the following conditions should consult a doctor before actually getting vaccinated.
1. Those with an underlying disease
For safety’s sake, those with underlying medical conditions are recommended to get a Covid-19 vaccine to prevent any severe symptoms the virus may cause if one catches it. However, it is also important to consider the extent and type of such underlying health issues. As a sensible precaution, those with any underlying condition are well-advised to consult a doctor prior to getting vaccinated.
2. Those allergic to drugs, foods, or allergens
Those who are sensitive to allergens, or who have a family history of severe allergies, should consult with a doctor regarding any vaccination decisions. It is recommended that before getting vaccinated against Covid-19, you meet with your doctor and go over your options.
3. Those taking regular medications
The Department of Disease Control recommends that those taking regular medications refrain from taking certain prescription drugs before getting their Covid-19 vaccination. Key drug groups that should be avoided include:
- Prescription drugs for migraines, such as Cafergot, Avamigran and Tofago, should not be taken within five days before the vaccination date. Triptan drugs such as Replax should be stopped 24 hours before getting the vaccine.
- Antidepressants, including SSRIs, SNRIs and Tricyclic antidepressants such as Fluxetin, Sertralin, Escitalopram, Venlafaxine, Duloxetine, Amitriptyline, Nortriptyline, and Imipramine, should not be taken within 24 hours prior to vaccination.
- Nasal decongestants such as Pseudoephedrine should not be taken within 24 hours prior to vaccination.
- Hemp oil, nicotine patches, or any supplements and herbs should be avoided for 3-5 days before vaccination.
- NSAIDs including Ibuprofen, Arcoxia, and Celebrex should not be taken within 24 hours before vaccination.
Preparing for the Vaccination
To maximize effectiveness, while preventing or minimizing any potential side effects, it is important to be adequately prepared before getting a Covid-19 vaccination. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- Get sufficient rest. Those about to get vaccinated should get enough sleep beforehand, and ensure that their bodies are well-rested for at least two days before the vaccination date. It is also recommended to refrain from strenuous exercise during that time.
- Avoid drinking any alcoholic beverages before the vaccination appointment.
- Drink enough water to meet your physical needs (the recommended amount is 1.5 liters per day).
- If you feel unwell or have a fever on the day of your vaccination, your vaccination date should be postponed for at least 1-2 weeks.
After Your Vaccination
After the vaccine dose has been administered, the vaccination center will let recipients rest and wait for 15-30 minutes while they monitor for any signs of side effects. This is because severe allergic reactions, if any, tend to occur within an hour of vaccination. As some people may experience mild side effects post-vaccination, we have gathered some recommendations what to do after getting your vaccine shot.
- Avoid any strenuous use of your vaccinated arm for at least two days after your shot.
- You may experience mild side effects such as pain, swelling, redness, and heat around the injection area, or symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue, body ache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. In such cases, it is recommended to drink plenty of water and to rest according to what your body tells you it needs. Such symptoms are signs that your body’s immune system is responding to the vaccine by speeding up building immunity against it. It is important to note that such symptoms can go away on their own within two to three days. However, if symptoms persist after three days, you are advised to consult a doctor.
- In cases of fever or headache, you can take one 500mg tablet of paracetamol every six hours, as necessary. To relieve fever symptoms, consult a doctor for appropriate medication.
In the case of those who experience a severe allergic reaction after their first vaccination, or anaphylaxis, the Department of Disease Control recommends taking a different type of vaccine for the second dose. Even if the allergic reaction isn’t severe enough to require being admitted to an emergency room, such patients should consult an immunologist or allergist. From there, they can consider altering the vaccine type, or making any other changes according to specialist advice in each individual case.
Conditions Requiring Urgent Medical Attention
If you experience any of the following symptoms after vaccination, seek medical attention immediately: severe persistent headache (symptoms differ from regular headache and do not improve after taking paracetamol or other over-the-counter pain relievers); a drop in blood pressure; numbness; weakness in the limbs; seizure; mouth twitches; chest pain; bronchospasm, or; difficulty breathing.
While vaccination may come with side effects, being properly prepared prior to your vaccine appointment and being aware of how to spot symptoms and deal with side effects, should temper their severity. By staying informed, we can be better equipped to resolve each situation by getting proper treatment in a timely manner.
• Department of Disease Control
• Ramkhamhaeng Hospital