The "Biggest Thing" You Can Do to Reduce Vaccine Side Effects, Doctor Says

Allie Hogan
·3 min read

The lead-up to your vaccine is filled with eager anticipation for gaining some long-awaited immunity to COVID. The time after the vaccine, however, can include a little anxious anticipation of the possible reactions you might have to the shot. While side effects are inevitable for many people—and a normal sign the vaccine is doing its job—there are a few things you can do to reduce your discomfort. According to one doctor, there is a simple thing you should do before your vaccine that could help minimize your side effects. Read on to find out how to better prepare for your shot, and for more on vaccine reactions, discover The Common Vaccine Side Effect That No One Is Talking About, Experts Say.

Hydrating before the vaccine could help reduce side effects.

Health experts have advised that drinking a lot of water ahead of the vaccine can help diminish your side effects. Although side effects aren't completely avoidable for everyone, hydrating can help reduce them, pulmonary and critical care physician Vanessa Walker, DO, told NBC affiliate KCRA. Walker said the most important health care professionals want you to do before the vaccine is hydrate. "Drinking water before and after can actually help with your symptoms, those kind of side effects that you get—it'll just make you feel better. You'll handle the vaccine better," she explained. And for more on what reactions can tell you, This Vaccine Side Effect Could Mean You Already Had COVID, New Study Says.

Start hydrating 24 hours before your vaccine and continue to hydrate after.

To reduce vaccine side effects, you should start focusing on your hydration at least one day before your vaccine appointment. "While it is never too early to start hydrating, it is especially important starting at least 24 hours before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine," says epidemiologist Sri Banerjee, PhD, a professor at Walden University.

Banerjee notes that you should also continue to hydrate after the vaccine to benefit your immune system. "Since hydration is important for proper immune function, it is especially important that as the immune response is being developed, proper hydration continues," he adds. And for things to avoid, Don't Do This the Night Before Your Vaccine Appointment, Experts Say.

Steer clear of alcohol because it can dehydrate you.

You may want to have some celebratory drinks before or after your vaccine, but experts say you should put those on hold for a couple of days. "It's not that you can't drink alcohol afterward. It's not that it's going to change the effects of the vaccine. It's still going to work just fine. But you might feel kind of crummy if you drink alcohol afterward," Walker told KCRA. "I would recommend against that, so you make sure you don't feel bad."

Banerjee also notes that alcohol can further dehydrate a person, which could counteract all the water you drink to prepare for your vaccine. Additionally, "since alcohol makes some allergic reactions worse, it may be advisable not to drink any alcohol for at least 24 hours before the shot." And for more COVID vaccine information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

There are other things you can do to reduce side effects.

Emergency medical technician Risha Surana suggests taking care of yourself after your vaccination as you would during a sick day. "Drink lots of water, take some time and rest, and try to sleep early so that you can sleep through the worst of your symptoms," Surana says. Banerjee agrees that "sleeping well and eating well can help alleviate side effects." He also notes that fever reducers, such as acetaminophen, can help with mild symptoms. And for more essential vaccine guidance, You Need This in Your Diet After Your COVID Vaccine, Doctor Warns.