Headaches are a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccination. Migraines, a condition that can cause severe, recurring headaches combined with nausea and sensitivity to light and noise, can be a common headache after a COVID-19 vaccination.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and can protect a person from complications from COVID-19 and help protect the wider community. Some people experience several mild, temporary side effects after vaccination. These side effects are common signs that the immune system is strengthening its defenses against the coronavirus infection.
Headaches are a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccination. Some people with migraines may experience a temporary worsening of their condition after receiving the vaccine. A person can make sure they are well hydrated before vaccination to improve their wellbeing.
Read on to learn more about the link between COVID-19 vaccines and migraines.
Stay up to date with the current COVID-19 outbreak with live updates and visit our Coronavirus Hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.
Rigorous testing and protective measures have ensured that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. However, any form of medication can cause side effects, including vaccines.
Headaches are a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccination. Data from the ZOE COVID study suggests that around 10% of people experience headache or fatigue after receiving the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. They also state that 25-42% of the people in the original Pfizer BioNTech vaccine study had headaches.
A migraine is an intense pulsating or throbbing pain in the head that lasts for up to 72 hours without treatment. Other symptoms may also occur, including nausea and sensitivity to light.
Learn the difference between migraines and headaches here.
Although there is little research in this area, people who have migraine headaches might get one after vaccination against COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1% of 18- to 55-year-olds had severe headaches after the first Pfizer BioNTech vaccine dose and 3% after the second.
Migraine headaches can be painful and debilitating, but the symptoms should pass. The American Migraine Foundation states that COVID-19 can be life-threatening for people with migraine headaches and poses a greater risk than vaccination.
Learn more about migraines as a symptom of COVID-19 here.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.
Some common triggers for people with migraines are:
- biological changes, such as hormonal changes
- strong or flashing lights
- Weather changes
- certain foods and drinks
The triggers of migraine episodes vary from person to person. Identifying the factors that cause migraine headaches is an important step in preventing them. Using a journal to record the context of each episode can help people identify potential triggers.
Read more about migraine triggers here.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination can have side effects that include:
These side effects should go away on their own within a few days. In very rare cases, the COVID-19 vaccination can cause more serious reactions in some people. For example, it can cause a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis. This can happen in people who are allergic to any of the substances in the vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine typically causes side effects that occur within 24 hours of the injection. About 72% of patients report pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site after the first dose and 69% after the second dose. This side effect can occur immediately after vaccination.
After a few hours, other symptoms such as tiredness and fever may appear. People can experience these symptoms with different onset and duration. However, data from the ZOE COVID study suggest that symptoms typically peak within 24 hours of vaccination and last for up to 48 hours in total.
The CDC also states that symptoms are typically more intense after the second dose of vaccine than after the first.
Find out here how COVID-19 can develop.
The Foods and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the COVID-19 vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen in the United States. Any type of vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, serious illness, and death from the new coronavirus.
The lack of research on the links between COVID-19 vaccines and migraines makes it unclear whether certain types of vaccines are more likely to cause migraine headaches. Headache is a common side effect of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen vaccines.
Stress is a common trigger for episodes in people with migraines. Getting the vaccine can be stressful for some people, which, regardless of the type of vaccine, can trigger migraine headaches.
A Guide to Different COVID-19 Vaccines
There is no cure for migraine headaches, but treatments are aimed at preventing episodes or reducing symptoms during the episodes. Some doctors may recommend erenumab for preventing migraine headaches.
Medications used to treat other conditions can also help people with migraine headaches, such as epilepsy medications. People with chronic migraine headaches can also get botox to treat the condition. Recognizing and avoiding triggers is another method of treating chronic migraine headaches.
Learn 15 Natural and Home Remedies for Migraine Relief Here.
Will migraine drugs affect the COVID-19 vaccine?
The American Migraine Foundation states that there is currently no evidence that migraine medication is interfering with the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. They also recommend avoiding over-the-counter medications before vaccination to avoid side effects like ibuprofen.
Many types of migraine headaches can cause different symptoms. Some common migraine headache symptoms that people experience include:
- moderate to severe headache on one or both sides of the head
- throbbing, throbbing, or pulsating headache
- Pain that worsens with movement
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light, sounds, or smells
- Difficulty concentrating or doing daily tasks
- Aura, a collection of visual disturbances that may occur before an episode
Find out about different types of headache here.
All vaccines can have side effects. These are typically a sign that the immune system is building up its defenses against a possible infection. The side effects of different vaccines can be similar.
For example, headaches are a common side effect of the flu shot. Vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) can also cause headaches. These side effects can trigger an episode in people with chronic migraine headaches.
Find out what vaccines are and how they work here.
The COVID-19 vaccine can cause mild, transient symptoms, including headaches. Some people may experience migraine headaches after vaccination. However, other side effects are more common, such as pain at the injection site.
People with a history of migraines may have an episode after vaccination. However, the risks of COVID-19 can be life threatening; Therefore, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of these side effects.