What the COVID-19 vaccines feel like

Updated Jan. 12, 2021

We will add information to this page as we learn more about each of the vaccines. 

The Pfizer vaccine 

The side effects reported with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine include: 

  • Injection site pain
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Injection site swelling
  • Injection site redness
  • Nausea
  • Feeling unwell
  • Swollen lymph nodes

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, given three weeks apart. The likelihood of side effects is higher following the second dose. These side effects generally were mild or moderate and lasted for just a few days.  Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can ease these side effects, but these medicines should be taken after receiving the vaccine.

The Moderna vaccine

The side effects reported with both the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine include:  

At the injection site: 

  • Pain 
  • Tenderness 
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection 
  • Swelling (hardness) 
  • Redness 

General side effects: 

  • Tiredness 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Chills 
  • Joint pain 
  • Fever 
  • Nausea and vomiting  

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses, given one month apart. Side effects generally were mild or moderate and lasted for just a few days.  Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can ease these side effects, but these medicines should be taken after receiving the vaccine. 

Allergic reactions

As with any vaccine, there is a remote chance that the vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after receiving the vaccine. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face and throat
  • A fast heartbeat
  • A bad rash all over your body
  • Dizziness and weakness

If you’ve had a severe, anaphylactic reaction to components inside the COVID-19 vaccine, you should speak to your doctor before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

View a list of Pfizer vaccine ingredients here

View a list of Moderna vaccine ingredients here

This does not include allergic reactions related to things like bee stings or certain foods – it only involves severe reactions exclusively related to vaccine components.  

If you receive the vaccine at a Nebraska Medicine location, health care professionals will monitor you for 15 minutes after receiving the shot. If you experience an allergic reaction after leaving your health care provider, please call 911. 

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has a program called "Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP)" that will reimburse any unexpected medical bills related to the COVID-19 vaccines.

We are not currently accepting COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Call for more information.

800.922.0000