How long does it take for side effects of covid vaccine to show? Everything you need to know

Article By: Sophie Law

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects - here are the most common and how long they will last.

If you've had your coronavirus jab, you may be wondering what side effects might appear.

The vaccine roll-out is picking up pace, with almost 75 per cent of the adult population of Scotland now received at least a first dose of a Covid vaccine.

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects, according to the NHS.

It shows the vaccine is teaching your body’s immune system how to protect itself from the disease, however most of them are mild and short-term and not everyone gets them.

Here are the most common side effects to expect after the vaccine and how long they will last:

Common Covid vaccine side effects
Very common side effects in the first day or two, according to the NHS.

These include:

Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection
Feeling tired
Headache, aches and chills
Joint pain

Nausea or vomiting

Fever (temperature above 37.8°C).

You may also have flu like symptoms with episodes of shivering and shaking for a day or two.

However, a high temperature could also indicate that you have COVID-19 or another infection. You can rest and take the normal dose of paracetamol to help make you feel better.

An uncommon side effect is swollen glands in the armpit or neck on the same side as the arm where you had the vaccine.

This can last for around 10 days, but if it lasts longer see your doctor.

If you are due for a mammogram in the few weeks after the vaccine, then you should mention that when you attend.

Fever after the coronavirus vaccine

It’s quite common to develop a fever after a vaccination. This normally happens within 48 hours of the vaccination and usually goes away within 48 hours, according to the NHS.

You do not need to self-isolate or book a test unless you have other coronavirus symptoms.

If the fever starts more than 48 hours after the vaccination or lasts longer than 48 hours, you should self-isolate and book a test.

Are the side effects different for each dose?
Not all COVID-19 vaccines are the same – some tend to cause more side effects at the first dose, according to Public Health Scotland.

Others cause more side effects at dose two. The type of side effects are the same and should still only last a day or two.

Can you go back to daily activities after having your vaccine?

You should be able to resume activities that are normal for you as long as you feel well.

If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult. If you feel unwell or very tired you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving.

The vaccine cannot give you coronavirus, and receiving both doses will reduce your chance of catching the virus.

To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues, you MUST still:

Practise social distancing
Wear a face mask
Wash your hands carefully and frequently
Open windows to let fresh air in
Follow the current guidance

What to do if you are concerned
These symptoms normally last less than a week, according to the NHS.

But if your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call NHS 111.

If you do seek advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination so that they can assess you properly.

Call 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms starting from around four days to four weeks after being vaccinated:

A severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
A headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
A headache that's unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
A rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
Shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain


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