An employee gets vaccinated for COVID-19, then they have symptoms. Is it a reaction to the vaccine or a case of COVID-19?


The CDC has updated its guidance, Post Vaccine Considerations for Workplaces, to help evaluate employees who have symptoms after receiving a COVID-19 shot.


Common side effects from the vaccine:

  • include pain in the vaccinated arm, fever, chills, tiredness, headache, nausea and muscle pain
  • are mild to moderate
  • occur within the first 3 days of vaccination, with most occurring the day after receiving the shot
  • get better within 1-2 days
  • are more frequent following the second dose, and
  • are more frequent in younger people (under age 55).


Cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell aren’t post-vaccination symptoms and could be signs of a COVID-19 infection.


Managing vaccination time

To minimize the effects of the post-vaccination period for employees and companies, the CDC suggests employers:


  • encourage employees to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and to consider scheduling their appointments 1-2 days before planned days off from work
  • stagger vaccination appointments so a lot of employees aren’t receiving their shots at the same time, and
  • offer flexible, nonpunitive sick leave options, such as paid leave, for employees with symptoms after vaccination.

For more CDC guidance on this topic, click here.