Can the COVID-19 Booster Shot Cause Side Effects?

November 08, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Elliot Frank, M.D.

Certain fully vaccinated people are now eligible for COVID-19 booster shots. If you experienced side effects when you were vaccinated initially, you may wonder if you’ll have any noticeable symptoms in response to your booster shot. While you may have some side effects, they should be no worse than what you experienced originally and may well be milder.

Here are answers to some common questions about side effects and COVID-19 booster shots:

Who is Eligible for a COVID-19 Booster Shot?

If you received two Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines six or more months ago, you’re eligible for a booster shot if you are:

  • 65 or older
  • 18 or older and you have an underlying medical condition (cancer, asthma, diabetes, etc.)
  • 18 or older and you live or work in a high-risk setting (a hospital, school, supermarket, prison, etc.)

If you are 18 or older and you received a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 two or more months ago, you are also eligible for a booster shot.

Regardless of which vaccine you had originally, you can receive a booster with any of the three authorized vaccines.


What Side Effects are Common After COVID-19 Booster Shots?

Most people who get COVID-19 booster shots experience mild to moderate side effects. Commonly reported side effects include:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Redness and/or swelling at the injection site
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm that received the injection

How Soon After the Booster Shot Might Side Effects Occur?

You probably experienced COVID-19 vaccine side effects fairly quickly when you had your initial injections. The same is true for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots: Most people notice side effects within the first 24 hours. The symptoms typically only last a day or two. Some people don’t notice any side effects.

Is it Possible to Relieve COVID-19 Booster Shot Side Effects?

There are a few ways to minimize unpleasant symptoms after a booster shot:

  • Take over-the-counter medication (acetaminophen or ibuprofen), if you doctor allows it
  • Put a cold compress or a cool, wet washcloth on the injection site
  • Walk or otherwise keep your arm in motion, rather than sitting idly

To make an appointment with Dr. Frank, or a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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