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Headache, fever, fatigue—yes please!

Young man wrapped in a blanket eating soup on the couch

Imagine this.

It’s two days after you have had your COVID-19 vaccine. You’re stuck in bed, you feel awful. You’ve got a fever, a headache that just won’t quit, and you have had a had a pillow over your head for the past six hours.

Surely this isn’t meant to be happening, right?

Actually, while it might not feel like it at the time, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

For those who experience symptoms, remember this is a sign that your immune system is being prepared and is being trained to recognise, and fight, against the virus that causes COVID-19.

If your body is reacting, your body is learning.

If your body is learning, your body is protected.

Reactions following vaccination are not just common, they are expected.

In fact, common side effects are likely to occur in more than 1 in 10 people who receive a vaccine.

But a day spent recovering from these mild to moderate effects in your own bed is better than a month spent in the Intensive Care Unit (or worse).

It’s a very common misconception that the flu vaccine, for example, gives you the flu. Or in this case that the COVID-19 vaccination will give you COVID-19.

But the runny nose, mild fever or mild headache from the flu vaccine for example is actually just the body learning and adapting – so that next time it is exposed to the virus it is prepared to fight it.

Avoiding a vaccine to avoid these mild side effects is counterproductive.

You won’t get pneumonia and end up in hospital from the fever you get after your COVID-19 vaccine, but you can from the COVID-19 infection.

You won’t experience a seizure and end up in hospital from the headache you get after your COVID-19 vaccine, but you can from the COVID-19 infection.

Mild side effects usually go away within one or two days, just as temporary as a bad hangover.

If you experience pain at the injection site or fever, headaches or body aches after vaccination, you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. If there is swelling at the injection site, you can use a cold compress.

Of course, some people may experience no side effects, and a very small percentage of the population may experience a severe reaction.

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and side effects, visit COVID-19 vaccine.

To learn more about Australia's active vaccine safety system, visit COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance (AusVaxSafety)

Last updated: 17 May 2021