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How to cope with side effects after getting covid vaccine
Although unlikely, if you experience emergency warning symptoms at any time after receiving your COVID-19 vaccine, call 9-1-1 immediately. Emergency warning symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face, or any other sudden and severe symptom.
Common side effects include pain at the injection site, fever, body aches and headaches. These reactions are frequent (and indicate that your body is making an immune response to the vaccine) and should go away within 1-2 days, with the exception that swollen lymph nodes may persist up to about 10 days.
Swollen lymph nodes may be seen on routine screening mammograms for up to a month after vaccination. If you are due for a screening mammogram soon and it will not result in undue delays, you may consider scheduling it 4-6 weeks after your second vaccine appointment.
Help identify and minimize mild side effects
- Use an ice pack or cool, damp cloth to help reduce redness, soreness and/or swelling at the place where the shot was given.
- A cool bath can also be soothing.
- Drink liquids often for 1-2 days after getting the vaccine.
- Take an over the counter pain reliever unless you have any specific contraindication.
For symptoms that are severe or last 72 hours or more contact your regular clinician or Primary Care Provider.
When to be tested for COVID-19 infection
The following symptoms suggest COVID-19 infection and are not common vaccine side effects
- New loss of smell or taste
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Congestion/sore throat/runny nose/conjunctivitis (red eye)
- Nausea/vomiting or diarrhea.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, stay at home, and call the Call Center or your regular clinician to schedule a COVID test. If you do have a positive COVID-19 test between your first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine, you should wait 10 days from when you first tested positive and be fully recovered before getting your second dose. You should still get the second dose.
You must continue to follow the advice of public health officials whether you are vaccinated or not: Wear your mask in public, ensure hand hygiene, and practice social distancing.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Home Care & Precautions
Doctors might recommend home care if someone in your family:
- has coronavirus (COVID-19)
- was tested for COVID-19 and is waiting for the results
- has flu symptoms (like a fever, cough, and sore throat)
Anyone who is sick — even if they don’t know for sure they have coronavirus (COVID-19) — should stay home unless they need medical care. This helps prevent the illness from spreading to other people.
What Should We Do at Home?
To protect others at home, someone who is sick should:
- As much as possible, keep away from other people and pets in your home.
- Wear a cloth face covering (or face mask, if you have one) if they must be around other people. Cloth face coverings are for use only by people older than 2 years old who are not having trouble breathing. Do not leave a child alone while they’re wearing a cloth face covering. To see how to put on and remove cloth face coverings and face masks, clean them, or make your own cloth face covering, check the CDC’s guide.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, throw the tissue away, and then wash their hands right away. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- If possible, stay in a bedroom and use a bathroom separate from other people in the home.
- Use separate dishes, glasses, cups, and eating utensils and not share these with other household members. After use, run them through the dishwasher or wash with very hot soapy water.
- Use separate bedding and towels and not share these with other household members.
- If the person who is sick can’t wear a cloth face covering (or face mask), caregivers should wear one while they’re in the same room.
- Make sure shared spaces in the home have good air flow. You can open a window or turn on an air filter or air conditioner.
- Do not allow visitors into your home. This includes children and adults.
- All household members should wash their hands well and often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Wash the sick person’s clothing, bedding, and towels with detergent on the hottest temperature possible. Wear gloves when handling their laundry, if possible. Wash your hands well after handling the laundry (even if you wore gloves).
- Every day, use a household cleaner or wipe to clean things that get touched a lot. These include doorknobs, light switches, toys, remote controls, sink handles, counters, and phones. Keep a sick child’s toys separate from other toys, if possible.
To protect others in your community:
- The person who is sick should stay home unless they need medical care.
- Other household members also should stay home. Follow instructions from your doctor, local health care department, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about who should stay home and for how long.
- If you must go out of the house, wear a cloth face covering or face mask and keep at least 6 feet (2 meters) of distance between you and other people.
- Tell other people who were around the sick person. Your local or state health department can help you if you aren’t sure who to notify.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
If the person you’re caring for seems to be getting sicker, call your doctor right away. Tell the doctor about their symptoms and whether they’ve been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).
If they need to go to the doctor:
- The person should wear a cloth face covering, if available.
- Keep tissues handy in case they need to cough or sneeze.
Go to the emergency room or call 911 if the person has trouble breathing, is confused, or is very drowsy.
What Else Should I Know?
If you’re caring for someone with coronavirus or who has coronavirus symptoms, keep taking these precautions until your doctor or local health department say it’s safe to stop doing so.
It can get pretty lonely and boring for kids who are sick and need to stay home. While they’re separated from family, classmates, and friends, kids who feel well enough may want to:
- Talk on the phone or do a video call with family and friends.
- Text or use other messaging apps to talk with family and friends.
- Play online games that let them play with other kids from home.
- Do puzzles or Legos. Keep these clean and keep separate from other toys in the house.
Clean items used by the sick person (such as phones and computers) before other family members use them.
Emerging variants of an infectious virus are to be expected, but new, more transmissible forms of Covid-19 cropping up around the world have been an understandable cause for concern. Could these variants impact the way we test for the disease?
Covid-19 variants represent a confusing factor in the spread of the pandemic. From the UK and Brazil to South Africa, the US and now Germany, mutant strains of Covid-19 have been causing concern wherever they emerge.
SARS-CoV-2 mutations are unfortunately to be expected – mutating is part and parcel of what viruses do, and the Covid-19 virus has been mutating ever since it emerged. Most of these mutations don’t substantially change the virus and some might actually be to its detriment, causing the variant to die out.
“Viruses mutate all the time, but we are only interested if it changes their features or how they behave,” says University of Kent professor of molecular medicine Dr Martin Michaelis. “We see this with influenza – every year, we need a new vaccine.”
But as pressure on the virus increases and it has fewer eligible hosts, it’s forced to evolve into forms that can still transmit. For now, the new strains of Covid-19 do not appear to increase the severity of the illness, but evidence suggests that they are more easily transmissible – though estimates for quite how much range wildly.
Could the new variants evade testing?
The new strains and mutations are identified by taking samples from positive patients for background observation of the genetic code. As such, the chance of an emergent Covid-19 variant evading tests is highly unlikely.
Currently, the most widely used tests for Covid-19 are polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and lateral flow tests (LFTs).
“As you have a sample of the virus strain you should be able to detect it,” says PrescriptionDoctor.com general practitioner Dr Giuseppe Aragona. “Lateral flow tests are less accurate than PCR in general, so PCR would be the best and most accurate way of testing the emerging variants. I would not think there would be any issue with testing, especially with PCR, as any virus strains will be picked up.”
PCR tests work by taking an upper respiratory specimen, most commonly a nasopharyngeal swab. Reverse transcriptase and DNA polymerase enzymes are added to the sample, and make many copies of any viral RNA present in the sample. This is so that enough copies are present that the presence of the virus can be detected when the sample is then tested.
Primers and probes are then deployed, attaching themselves to specific sequences in the virus’s genetic code, which can then signal that the sample is positive. These primers and probes are designed to target specific segments of the virus’s genome that are unlikely to change over time.
Michaelis says: “I don’t think PCR will ever be an issue, because with PCR you pick the most conserved areas of the genome of a virus. You don’t go for something like the spike region which binds to receptors because that will change, as this is where antibodies will bind, but something that is conserved. The current PCR that we have doesn’t even discriminate between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, because so much is conserved between the two viruses that they are 80% the same.”
LFTs are not as accurate as PCRs, and don’t work in quite the same way. An LFT for Covid-19 works similarly to a pregnancy test, with a liquid sample coming into contact with an absorbent pad fitted with components which react to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Even so, experts believe it is again unlikely that these tests will be thwarted by new viral variants.
“Most [LFTs] are actually based on the nucleocapsid protein,” says Michaelis. “It’s much more stable than the spike protein. So again, the risk is not that big.”
What about vaccines?
Currently, researchers are testing the first crop of vaccines against the new variants, and we should know in the coming weeks whether or not they’re still effective.
There is good reason to be optimistic here – the vaccines are designed to generate an immune response to multiple different parts of the virus, which means a lone mutation is unlikely to render a vaccine ineffective. Even if the antibodies generated by immunization become unable to recognize one element of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they will still be able to recognize the others and dispatch it.
Eventually, the virus probably will mutate enough to evade the vaccines in their current form, but this isn’t as dire as it sounds – we see this happen every year with the flu, where developing a new jab is a standard part of vaccine manufacturers’ annual workload. But it doesn’t appear we’re at that stage just yet, and any necessary tweaks to the vaccines won’t take nearly as long as the experimental candidates took to develop.
Now the bare bones of developing a Covid-19 vaccine have been laid out, any necessary updates should be fairly straightforward.