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COVID-19 vaccine: Care after immunization

COVID-19 Vaccine

Care after immunization

Does the vaccine have side effects?

Many people have no side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. If you do have side effects, they tend to be mild and go away in a few days. Side effects may include:

  • redness, warmth, swelling, bruising, itching, or feeling sore where you had the needle
  • feeling tired or unwell
  • headache
  • a fever or chills
  • body aches or sore joints
  • feeling sick to your stomach (nausea), vomiting (throwing up), or loose stool (diarrhea)
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • a cough

What should I do if I have side effects?

Call Health Link at 811 to report any serious or unusual side effects. It’s rare to have a serious side effect.

Rare events after getting either the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD or the Janssen vaccine

Between 4 and 28 days after getting either the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD or the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine, there have been very rare reports of blood clots, low levels of platelets (these help your blood to clot), and bleeding.

If you have any of the following symptoms, get medical help right away:

  • trouble talking or moving a part of your body
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • severe swelling, pain, or a colour change in your arm or leg
  • stomach pain that doesn’t go away
  • a severe headache that doesn’t go away
  • blurry vision
  • seizures

If you have side effects that are the same as COVID-19 symptoms

If you have side effects that are the same as COVID-19 symptoms, you must stay home and away from others (isolate), even if you think the side effects are from the vaccine.

  • If your side effects start within 24 hours and go away within 48 hours after they start, you don’t have to keep isolating. You can go back to your normal activities. But if you were told to isolate for other reasons, you must keep isolating.
  • If your side effects start after 24 hours or last longer than 48 hours, stay home. Contact Health Link at 811 or use the COVID-19 Self-Assessment for Albertans (ahs.ca/testing) to make an appointment for a COVID-19 test. If you don’t get tested for COVID-19, you must stay home for 10 days from the start of your symptoms or until you no longer have symptoms, whichever is longer.

If you only have redness, swelling, or soreness where you had the needle, you don’t need to stay home and away from others.

What can I do to feel better?

To help with soreness and swelling:

  • Put a cool, wet cloth over the area where you had the needle.
  • Move the arm or leg where you had the needle.

If you have a fever, wear fewer layers of clothes and drink more fluids. There is medicine to help with a fever or pain. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you aren’t sure what medicine or dose to take. Follow the directions on the package. Children under the age of 18 years should not take aspirin because it can cause serious health problems.

Some people with health problems, such as a weak immune system, must call their doctor if they get a fever. If you were told to do this, call your doctor even if you think the fever is from the vaccine.

If I had the COVID-19 vaccine, do I still have to follow public health measures?

Yes, it’s still important to practice recommended public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if you’ve had the vaccine. This includes:

  • following guidelines of when to wear a mask or other equipment that helps protect you
  • washing your hands often
  • staying 2 meters away from others who don't live with you
  • staying home when you’re sick (this means isolating)
  • staying home for 14 days after returning from travel outside of Canada (this means quarantining)

You may not have to quarantine after having close contact with someone who has COVID-19. This depends on how many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine you’ve had and if you have symptoms. Visit ahs.ca/quarantineaftervaccine for more information.

More information

To get an electronic copy of the immunizations you’ve had in Alberta, register for a MyHealth Records account at MyHealth.Alberta.ca/myhealthrecords.

To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?Hwid=custom.ab_imm_covid19vaccine_ac.

Related to COVID-19 vaccines

For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: June 4, 2021

Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services

Care instructions may be adapted by your healthcare provider. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, talk with your doctor or appropriate healthcare provider.