GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — There are several “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to getting your COVID-19 vaccine.
Are you allowed to drink alcohol before and after?
Why does the CDC not recommend taking pain relievers before getting the shot?
We took those questions to Mercy Health, trying to help thousands of Michiganders who are now eligible to get the vaccine.
“First of all, it’s good to get that day scheduled as soon as possible,” said Dr. Matt Biersack, interim president and chief medical officer at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
Mercy is one of the partners at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic. It just vaccinated its 100,000th person last week.
“And we’re just encouraging people to hang tight,” he said. “Hang with us another few months; I think we can really make sure we get all the eligible adults within our community in these next couple of months, but we’ve gotta hang in there and stay vigilant.”
SEE MORE: MDHHS gives update on COVID-19 trends
DAY OF VACCINE
Dr. Biersack tells me there are several things people should pay attention to on the day of their shot, whether it’s the first or second dose, or the types of medications they’re currently taking.
There really isn’t any hard data surrounding whether it’s OK to drink alcohol before or after the vaccination.
But for alcoholics or others who drink for long periods of time, they tend to have weaker immune systems.
“You know, everything in moderation. So, it’s reasonable to have a celebratory cocktail, but beyond that, it’s really probably in everyone’s best interest to wait even 48 to 72 hours after the vaccination,” said Dr. Biersack.
There’s also a recommendation not to take pain relievers right before the shot. Some may consider that as a precursor trying to stop potential side effects, but that may not be your best bet.
“Ibuprofen in particular is what we call a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug. It could potentially blunt the immune response to the vaccine. And so, that’s the theory behind not taking those medications before the vaccination.”
AFTER THE VACCINE
After the vaccine, if you’re getting common side effects like muscle aches, pain at the site, or general fatigue, those over-the-counter pain relievers are usually OK.
“It’s prudent to talk to one’s doctor about what’s safe and what’s not based on other medical issues people might have or other medications they might be taking,” said Biersack.
Family Fare sends out documents giving people a rundown of each shot and what to expect.
Whether it’s Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer or Moderna, most locations should give you something to read over before getting vaccinated.
“For the most part, the vaccine doesn’t interfere in any way with medicines used for common conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes or other chronic diseases,” he said.
If you’re on immunosuppressive medications like steroids, talk to your doctor first.
The CDC has entire pages of frequently asked questions, including what you should wear to your appointment.
The answer is loose-fitting clothes to expose your shoulder.
Also, drink water because some people feel light-headed especially if they’re shy around needles. Get plenty of rest, and don’t plan so much over the next couple days in case you do have a reaction.
“We’re all kinda sick of COVID. It’s been well over a year, everybody’s tired, but we’ve just got to hang in there a little bit long because we can get through this if we can continue to follow those guidelines.”
In terms of those side effects from the shot, the CDC lists an “immediate” reaction as one that happens within four hours of getting it.
If that happens to you, you should not get the second dose.