Now that millions of children aged 5 to 11 can receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, health experts are sharing the same advice they gave adults: Do not give pain relievers to children such as ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen before vaccination.
It can be tempting to avoid a difficult child by preventing the uncomfortable side effects that injections can cause, but it is not clear exactly how these drugs might affect antibody responses to the vaccine. Research on pain relievers in combination with COVID-19 vaccines is lacking.
“We do not know how these drugs could affect the effectiveness of the vaccineSay the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “However, if you are taking these medicines regularly for other reasons, you should continue to take them before getting the vaccine.”
The CDC also warns against giving antihistamines or allergy medications to your child or teen to prevent allergic reactions.
“There is data in the vaccine literature, well before COVID-19 and almost all [done] in children, this premedication with [fever-reducing drugs] like acetaminophen or ibuprofen decrease antibody response at the first dose of vaccine, ”Dr. David Cennimo, infectious disease physician and assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told Healthline in January.
Medicines such as Advil and Motrin can interfere with the body’s natural inflammatory response to a vaccine, which is manifested by the commonly reported side effects of muscle pain, fever, and headache. This response is expected and proves that your body is building defense against the vaccine by stimulating the production of antibodies.
But with anti-inflammatory drugs in your system, your body’s ability to respond to its full potential might be thwarted. Children or adolescents who regularly take pain relievers for other conditions are an exception.
“Although we have not studied the effects of over-the-counter drugs given before the COVID-19 vaccine, we do have a few smaller studies done with other vaccines as a resource,” Dr Kristina Deeter, pediatric intensivist at Renown Children’s One Nevada hospital and a pediatric intensive care medicine physician from Pediatrix Medical Group, told McClatchy News in an email.
Deeter said a 2009 study showed decreased antibody levels against childhood vaccines when Tylenol was given to 459 infants previously, but the work was “by no means robust or followed by many other studies.”
“Although we don’t have better evidence than that, currently most pediatricians advise taking Tylenol and / or Motrin after any vaccine in response to side effects, such as arm pain, but not to pretreat your child with Tylenol, ”says Deeter.
“Again, no studies have been done on the effect of drugs taken before the COVID-19 vaccine. “
However, it is okay to give your child pain relievers. after vaccination against COVID-19, but you should speak with your child’s doctor for advice on the best medications.
CDC says aspirin is not recommended for children and adolescents as a pain reliever or fever reducer because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
Reye’s syndrome is a rare but serious condition which triggers swelling of the liver and brain, mainly in children and adolescents recovering from a viral infection such as the flu or chickenpox, according to MayoClinic.
Aspirin has been linked to the disease. The first signs of Reye’s syndrome include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, and drowsiness. More serious symptoms include aggressive behavior, confusion, seizures, and weakness in the arms or legs.
Experts suggest acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) as safer alternatives for post-vaccination relief.
This story was originally published November 5, 2021 12:00 p.m.