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What to expect after getting vaccinated for COVID-19

What should I do if I experience symptoms after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?

Some people have side effects after being vaccinated (such as tiredness, headache, and pain on the arm where they got the shot), which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.  

If you have any significant pain or discomfort, your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area, and use or exercise your arm. To reduce discomfort from fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.

In most cases, discomfort from fever or pain is normal, but contact your healthcare provider if:

  • The redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours
  • Your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days

Can vaccinated people get COVID-19?

It is possible to get COVID-19 even after you get the vaccine. Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with others. If you have symptoms like runny nose, cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste, you should get tested for COVID-19 or talk to your healthcare provider.

How do I report if I have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you or your child and get more information. V-safe will also remind you to get additional COVID-19 vaccine doses if you or your child needs one. Sign up for v-safe.

If you have any concerns, you can also call your healthcare provider. You or your provider can report any side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is a national system run by the federal government.

How long after getting the COVID-19 vaccine does it take to be effective?

It usually takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it's possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. You are considered fully vaccinated if you have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or a single dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine more than 14 days ago.

To receive the most protection, people should receive all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about who is recommended to get an additional primary dose or a booster dose.

How long does protection from the COVID-19 vaccines last?

We do not have data yet to say for how long the COVID-19 vaccines will provide protection. Recent studies show that protection against the virus may decrease over time. This reduction in protection has led the CDC to recommend that everyone ages 18 years and older get a booster shot after completing their primary vaccination series.

What guidance do I need to follow after I am fully vaccinated?

People who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. For more information and updates, go to

Will the COVID-19 Vaccine or Booster Impact My Upcoming Breast Screening Mammogram or Ultrasound?

To ensure accurate screening results, the CDC recommends scheduling screenings or screening ultrasounds at least 4 week to 6 weeks after your COVID-19 shot. Research shows that lymph nodes can temporarily enlarge after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Baystate Health patients:

Patients who have received their COVID-19 vaccine or booster within 4 weeks of their upcoming scheduled appointment for a screening breast mammogram or breast screening ultrasound need to reschedule their appointment by calling 413-794-2222.