Vaccines and Hydration
Currently, in the United States, over 187 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered .
Do you have your vaccination appointment scheduled? Are you a little anxious about what you’ll experience after you receive your shot?
It’s understandable to be a bit nervous about the side effects of the vaccine. Luckily, though, there are steps you can take to prepare and set yourself up for recovery.
Read on for some effective practices you can implement leading up to your vaccine appointment.
Vaccine Side Effects: What Are They and What Causes Them?
Why do you sometimes feel sick after getting a vaccination? This happens because your immune system is doing its job! When you receive a vaccine, you typically feel some effects because your immune system is responding to it. It’s working hard to prepare your body to fight off a virus .
Whether you get the Moderna vaccine, Pfizer vaccine, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the following are some of the most common side effects people are reporting:
- Soreness at the site of the injection
- Low-grade fever
- Muscle aches
Most of the time, these side effects are mild and go away within 1-3 days. Some people do experience more intense symptoms after being vaccinated, though.
Before the Vaccine
There’s no way to say for certain whether you could experience side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s also hard to say how mild or severe your side effects could be.
Everyone is unique and responds to the COVID-19 vaccine (and all vaccines, for that matter) differently. That being said, there are some general steps you can take as you’re preparing for your appointment that may help to minimize the side effects you experience.
Here are some practices that experts recommend implementing in the days leading up to your vaccine:
As you get ready for your vaccine, make sure you’re doing your best to stay hydrated.
If you go into your vaccine appointment dehydrated, you may experience side effects more severely than you would have if you’d consumed plenty of fluids and electrolytes (minerals that support hydration) beforehand.
Remember, some of the symptoms of dehydration are similar to the side effects caused by the COVID vaccine. This includes headaches and fatigue . By taking care of your hydration needs before you get vaccinated, you can ensure that you’re not adding to or worsening your side effects by not taking in enough fluids.
Tips for Getting Hydrated
At this point, you might be asking questions like “How much should I drink?” or “What should I drink to properly hydrate myself?”
Everyone’s hydration needs are unique. A good starting point, though, is to aim to meet the daily hydration requirements from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. They recommend 125 ounces of fluids per day for men and 91 ounces of fluids per day for women .
As for what you should drink, you can’t go wrong with plain old water. Add in an electrolyte mix if you want to boost your hydration and enhance the flavor of your drink.
You can also hydrate with other beverages, including tea, coffee, milk, and juice. Try to get most of your fluids from water, though, so you’re not taking in a bunch of extra calories and sugar.
Another way to make sure you’re going into your vaccine appointment optimally hydrated is to avoid alcohol. Remember, alcohol is a diuretic . It causes you to lose fluids, which is the opposite of what you want before you’re scheduled to get a vaccine.
If you drink a few beers or glasses of wine to calm your nerves the night before your vaccine, you might go into the appointment dehydrated and potentially more prone to vaccine side effects. Drinking alcohol could exacerbate any symptoms you experience, such as a headache, diarrhea, fatigue, or nausea.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
You don’t have to go on a special diet leading up to your vaccine date (thank goodness). However, it’s still a good idea to make sure you’re eating healthy, anti-inflammatory foods as much as possible.
Eating anti-inflammatory foods supports your immune system. Consuming these foods can also help you ensure you go into your appointment feeling healthy and energized.
What are anti-inflammatory foods? Nutrient-rich options like fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources like fish and poultry, and whole grains are all great examples.
A good rule of thumb is to stick to whole, unprocessed foods. Foods that contain processed oils, lots of sugar, or lots of additives may cause inflammation and cause you to feel sluggish, achy, or have a headache .
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Do your best to get plenty of sleep the night before your vaccine appointment, too.
Poor sleep suppresses the immune system, and it may also exacerbate the symptoms you experience after receiving your vaccine. Some research even suggests that reduced sleep can impair the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine .
Clearly, sleep plays an important role in supporting your immune system. Sleeping well the night before a big event is often easier said than done, though.
If you’re nervous about getting your vaccine, here are some tips that can help you relax and maximize your sleep the night before:
- Cut off caffeine early in the day (by mid-afternoon at the latest)
- Reduce blue light exposure from the TV or your smartphone an hour or so before bed (this can cause you to feel alert)
- Read a book or listen to music to help yourself wind down
- Take a sleep supplement that contains melatonin (talk to your doctor first to ensure this is a good choice for you)
Support Your Immune System
General immune system support can also set you up for an easier post-vaccine recovery, too.
All of the practices listed above are great for your immune system at any time, including when you’re getting ready to receive the COVID vaccine. Here are a few other ways you can further support your immune system, though:
- Do some gentle exercise (take a walk, go for a run, lift weights, etc. )
- Manage stress and anxiety with practices like meditation, yoga, etc. 
- Incorporate an immune support mix with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D in your daily routine
Make Time for Rest
In the days leading up to your vaccine, make sure you’re preparing so that you can rest the day of and the day (or days) after.
For example, go to the grocery store a day or two before you’re scheduled to receive your shot. That way, you’ll have plenty of food readily available and won’t have to worry about going shopping while you’re dealing with side effects.
Do your best to block off your schedule the day of and days after your shot, too. Let people know that you’re getting vaccinated and keep things as free as possible. This allows you to rest more easily and focus on recovering.
After the Vaccine
After your COVID vaccine, there are also some steps you can take to maximize recovery. Here are our top tips for feeling your best and minimizing the side effects of the vaccine:
Make sure you continue to drink water and consume other fluids after receiving your vaccine. Keep a water bottle close by your bed or couch so it’s easily accessible. You may want to set reminder alarms on your phone as well.
Continued hydration could reduce your chances of developing headaches or becoming extra-fatigued. It may minimize the intensity or duration of other side effects, too.
Continue Avoiding Alcohol
Don’t have a celebratory drink right after getting your vaccine. Give yourself some time to recover before you pour yourself a glass of wine or mix up a cocktail.
Avoiding alcohol supports your hydration efforts. It also helps you avoid waking up dehydrated (that’s the last thing you need if you’re already experiencing side effects).
Continue Eating Healthfully
Make sure you’re eating healthfully after you receive your vaccine, too. Make sure most of your diet is made up of fruits, vegetables, and other anti-inflammatory foods. Not only is this good for your immune system, but it may help you to avoid dealing with digestive-related side effects, such as diarrhea, too.
Give yourself time to rest when your appointment is over. If possible, take time off of work the day after. That way, if you do experience side effects, you can relax and don’t have to try and push through when you’re feeling under the weather.
Remember to truly rest afterward, too. Don’t use your free time to try and clean out the garage or reorganize the pantry. Read a book, catch up on your favorite shows, or take a nap. Relax and let your immune system get to work.
Stay Hydrated, Feel Better
Of all the steps you can take to promote speedy COVID vaccine recovery, prioritizing hydration is one of the most important. When paired with healthy eating, adequate rest, and general immune support, it can help to minimize side effects and ensure you feel your best.
Keep these tips in mind as you plan to receive your vaccine. Always consult your doctor, too, if you have specific questions about what you should or shouldn’t do before or after you get your shot.
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 Adams, Katie & Anderson, Maia. States Ranked by Percentage of COVID 19 Vaccines Administered. Becker’s Hospital Review. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/states-ranked-by-percentage-of-covid-19-vaccines-administered.html
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