By now you probably know that it’s common to feel pain or experience swelling in your upper arm after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Mild side effects are usually a positive sign that the vaccine is working and that your body is building immunities to the virus. But what if your symptoms don’t start until the week after? Some patients – mostly those who received the Moderna vaccine – are reporting arm pain, swelling, and redness days (sometimes up to a week) after getting their first shot. Doctors have dubbed this delayed itchy rash or dull pain at the injection site “COVID arm”.
A medical expert told Good Housekeeping that COVID arm is a localized, slow reaction known as delayed t-cell hypersensitivity. He explained that it’s a natural reaction. Basically, our immune system sees the vaccine as an invader and travels to the injection site to protect us.
The good news, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, is that most of the COVID arm reactions clear up within four to five days and typically only happen after the first shot.
How to Treat COVID Arm
COVID arm is no cause for concern. Not only does it clear up on its own, but you can easily treat the symptoms at home. The CDC says you can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help ease any arm pain. Ice packs can also help. If you have a rash, over-the-counter antihistamines can help reduce itchiness and discomfort.
However, you should seek medical help if you have trouble breathing, or experience a high fever, body aches, and/or fatigue combined with the COVID arm conditions.
Doctors are urging patients who may have experienced COVID arm not to skip their second shot. But, they say you might want to get the next does in your other arm.
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