Pre-treatment before vaccine

Ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) before vaccination…

It’s recommended that you do not take either of these before vaccination. Pre-treating MAY reduce the your immune response to the vaccine (specifically the ability of B cells to mount an immune response).

“May” is the key word here.

In 2016, scientists conducted a systematic review. They basically took all the studies ever done on this topic (there were 20 total) to try and see whether pre-treatment of Ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen impacted immune response.

Their conclusions?

  • Results are too mixed to come to a conclusion. In other words, 4 studies showed that the medications decreased immune response. Some studies showed pre-treatment increased immune response. And the rest of the studies showed no impact. The authors stated “Thus, at this time, there is no clear answer as to whether [ibuprofen or acetaminophen] blunts the immune response to a degree that could result in vaccine failure.”
  • You CAN take ibuprofen or acetaminophen after vaccination. In all studies that reported a negative effect on antibody response, the medications were given as pre-treatment. Interestingly, this effect was not seen when given only 4 hours after immunization.
  • All reported decreases in antibody response occurred only with the first shot, with little to no impact observed following booster shot.

Bottom line: We don’t really know whether ibuprofen/acetaminophen impacts immune response. But, the shot just doesn’t hurt that bad. So, if you do decide to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen, take it a few hours after instead of pre-treatment, just to be careful.

As always, this page is for educational purposes only. It’s always best to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medication (or stopping any medications) and if you’re having adverse reactions to the vaccination.

Love, YLE

Systematic review:

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