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  • COVID-19
  • Contraindications & Precautions

A vaccine recipient reported experiencing a red, itchy, swollen rash that developed several days after vaccination around the injection site of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose. It resolved after a few days. Is that a concern? Should this alter our plans for future mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses?

This condition is not rare and is sometimes referred to as “COVID arm”. Future doses should be given as recommended. Individuals with only a delayed-onset local reaction (e.g., redness, induration, itching) around the injection site area after an mRNA vaccine dose do not have a contraindication or precaution to subsequent doses. Consider administering the next dose in the opposite arm, if possible.

These delayed-onset local reactions are sometimes quite large but are self-limited. It is not known whether individuals who experienced a delayed-onset injection site reaction after one dose will experience a similar reaction after future doses. These reactions are not believed to represent an increased risk for anaphylaxis after future doses.

Patients who experience “COVID arm” may take an antihistamine if it is itchy or a pain medication, such as acetaminophen or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), if it is painful.

Last reviewed: October 26, 2023

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