Health Information and Tools >  COVID-19 vaccine: Care after immunization
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

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 the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine

Between 4 and 28 days after getting the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD 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 within 42 days of being immunized, 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

There have also been very rare reports of capillary leak syndrome (CLS) within the first few days after getting the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine. CLS is a serious condition that causes sudden swelling of the arms and legs, sudden weight gain, and low blood pressure causing you to feel faint. Get medical help right away if you have any of these symptoms.

Rare events after getting either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine

Within 7 days after getting either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine, there have been very rare reports of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart). This inflammation can cause shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or a very fast or abnormal heart rate. Get medical help right away if you have any of these symptoms.

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?

At this time, there is not enough information to know how long protection lasts or if you’ll need booster doses. It’s still important to follow the recommended public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if you’ve had the vaccine. Visit ahs.ca/covid for the most up-to-date recommendations.

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: July 7, 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.