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Top tips for vaccine after-care

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

With the successful roll-out of the COVID vaccine, I thought I might give you some tips on how best to look after yourself once you've had it.

I'm pretty impressed with the distribution of the COVID vaccine to vulnerable populations so far. The speed with which the trials went through was incredible - a momentous achievement in the field of science and medicine under the pressure of a global pandemic.

If you've had the vaccine, or have been invited to do so, chances are you may experience a few side effects such as:

  • Fever

  • A local reaction at the site of injection

  • A headache

  • Tiredness and/or malaise.

These are common side effects and are similar to those that may be experienced after having the flu vaccine.

These tips will help you to lessen and perhaps even avoid side effects altogether:

  1. Apply arnica oil or balm to the site of injection, as soon as you can after being vaccinated. Arnica will reduce the chances of swelling occurring and will exert an anti-inflammatory effect across the whole area. Applying a heat pack to the site will also aid the absorption of the arnica into the local circulation.

  2. Rest. Rest. Rest. If you can, please rest after having the vaccine. Your body will have just experienced a big shock to the system. It will be activating various immune cells which takes a lot of energy. Try not to just carry on with your usual daily activities. Just go slow for a few days to let your body adapt and do its thing.

  3. Eat light, nutrient-dense foods. The more you can reduce the metabolic load on your body while it responds to the vaccine, the better you will feel. This means opting for lighter foods, such as juices, broths and soups. Choose nutrient-dense foods to reduce overall inflammation in your body. These include fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, eggs, meat and fish. Avoid processed foods, sugar, dairy and caffeine.

  4. Drink fluids. Take plenty of herbal teas and hot or cold water with a few slices of lemon. This will not only keep you hydrated but will also support liver and digestive function.

If you do experience any other side effects, it's important that you seek advice from your health professional or 111. I would also strongly encourage you to report any suspected side effects to the MHRA Yellow Card Scheme. This will help to shape and inform ongoing vaccine research and is an important tool to be aware of.

And that's it. Top tips from a Medical Herbalist!

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