Taking Tylenol or Advil before getting a coronavirus vaccine cold block production of antibodies and make the shot less effective, infectious disease specialists say
- Coronavirus vaccines from both Pfizer-BioNTech are known to come with side effect such as pain at the site of injection, headaches, fever
- These are signs that the body is responding to the vaccine and that the immune system is making antibodies
- Infectious disease specialists are warning people against taking ibuprofen like Advil or acetaminophen like Tylenol as a prophylactic
- Pain relievers may suppress parts of the immune system and inhibit antibody production, therefore reducing the vaccine’s effectiveness
Doctors are recommending that people not take over-the-counter pain medications before receiving a coronavirus vaccine.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots have been known to cause side effects such as pain at the site of injection, headaches, fever, chills and fatigue.
Because of this some people may try to prevent them by taking pain relievers like ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) in advance.
Now, infectious disease specialists tell ABC News the medications may dampen the immune system and prevent the production of antibodies, therefore dulling the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Infectious disease specialists are warning people against taking ibuprofen like Advil (left) or acetaminophen like Tylenol (right) as a prophylactic against coronavirus vaccine side effects such as pain at the site of injection, headaches and fever
Pain relievers may suppress parts of the immune system and inhibit antibody production, therefore reducing the vaccine’s effectiveness
‘We do not recommend premedication with ibuprofen or Tylenol before COVID-19 vaccines due to the lack of data on how it impacts the vaccine-induced antibody responses,’ Dr Simone Wildes, an infectious disease specialist at South Shore Medical Center in Massachusetts, told ABC News.
Side effects due to vaccines are not uncommon and can occur even from getting the seasonal flu shot.
When people experience mild to moderate reactions from a shot, it simply means our bodies are responding to it.
Not only do vaccines induce inflammation – because we have had a needle inserted into us – but they also trigger the body into making a protein.
In turn, the immune system generates antibodies capable of destroying this protein, such as the coronavirus.
But taking pain relievers can suppress parts of the immune system.
One theory is that many over-the-counter pain and fever-reducers block the cyclooxygenase-2 (cox-2) enzyme and inhibit the production of antibodies.
This means the drugs are preventing the body from receiving the full effects of the immunization.
‘You always would like an optimal response to your vaccine,’ Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News.
‘We are recommending that unless people have a substantial reaction to the first dose that they hold their [pain killers].” said Schaffner, ‘but otherwise, they feel pretty well.’
Previous research appears to back these claims.
A 2009 study looked at two groups of infants, one that received acetaminophen before given childhood immunizations and another that did not the drug,
One month later the children in the treatment group had lower concentrations of antibodies than those in the control group.
However, the experts say you can take pain relievers after receiving the shot, if you experience side effects.
‘If fever, chills, headaches develop after injection,’ you can use over-the-counter pain medication to mange symptoms, Wildes told ABC News.