Get the shot, ditch the pain reliever. That's the advice of experts whom ABC News spoke with about whether it's worth taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen before getting your COVID vaccine to ward off the possibility of a sore arm or a headache. The answer was a pretty firm no, and here's why: It's possible that the medications could reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. ABC News explains the science: Vaccines work by activating the immune system; anti-inflammatory medications like Tylenol and Advil "prevent parts of the immune system from working and slow down the immune response." In truth, we don't know how taking a pain reliever will specifically impact COVID-19 vaccines because there's a lack of data on the subject. But a Duke study that looked at the practice of giving kids pain relievers before they received their childhood vaccines found a correlation between fewer antibodies.
"We are recommending that unless people have a substantial reaction to the first dose that they hold their [pain killers]," says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt. Experts are more divided on whether the advice applies post-shot, too. Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA vaccine advisory board, tells KYW Newsradio that you should avoid taking pain relievers for a day or two after if possible. But infectious disease physician Dr. David J. Cennimo tells Healthline the studies on kids found antibody production was only dulled if the medication was taken prior to getting the shot. The one caveat in all cases: If you already take one of these medications daily for another condition, keep doing so. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)