Pfizer first vaccine dose & migraine?
April 22, 2021 12:41 PM   Subscribe

I am 42 and got the first Pfizer vaccine dose on 4/12. I was fine for 4 days, then on 4/17 I got a migraine during the night. The next day the migraine recurred with vomiting, chills, and a fever. I then felt better, but two days this week I have gotten a migraine when I have gone to work. I usually have about one migraine a month around my period, but this is the wrong time for that. My migraines usually don't recur for multiple days in a row- the only time this has happened before is with severe food poisoning. I have been taking ibuprofen and Tylenol, as well as my regular allergy med and Lexapro, and a dose of Nyquil at night. I'm getting scared that I don't know how much longer this is going to last, and I'm worried about my second vaccine. (I will be getting the 2nd vaccine unless my doctor says not to.) I guess I'm worried that the vaccine has really messed up my migraine equilibrium somehow. Has this happened to you? Did it get better? Or have you seen this in others? Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening with the 2nd dose? I'm aware that I'm having a lot of feelings about the pandemic, resuming normal life, and grieving my cat's unexpected death. I also feel very guilty about missing work - the library I work at has just reopened to the public and things are stressful. Thank you for any suggestions.
posted by lizard music to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Your migraines are usually linked to your periods? Dr. Jen Gunter: The COVID-19 vaccine and menstrual irregularities / Exploring potential mechanisms.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:47 PM on April 22, 2021 [6 favorites]

I just got my 1st dose (of Moderna) yesterday, so I'm basically waiting for my headache and misery to set in, because I'd be surprised if I don't get it. I'm prone to headaches of all sorts, not just migraines, I've been dealing with some long-haul symptoms from having Covid last December, have other health issues. I've heard of people missing up to a week of work from the vaccine, while others have no symptoms other than a slightly tender arm. It's gonna be one of those your-mileage-may-vary sorts of things, and whether or not you had Covid doesn't seem to indicate how you will react to the first shot, and neither that or your reaction to the first shot seem to indicate how you react to the second.

The frustration is real - but honestly, this is a guessing game at this point. Just like whether or not we'll need booster shots in six months or a year. Our best-case scenario was if we'd hit herd immunity prior to the virus mutating... and we missed that opportunity long ago. Every single careless act moves us farther from that best case... but all we can do is keep going until we somehow hit whatever unknown amount of effort is "enough".
posted by stormyteal at 1:01 PM on April 22, 2021

Best answer: I had a similar reaction to my first dose of Pfizer (migraine, nausea, bad vertigo) for almost the entire three weeks between shots. I had no side effects from the second dose (three weeks ago) and have been totally fine since then. I was worried about the vertigo ‘sticking’ since I do experience it intermittently but it doesn’t seem any different now than pre-vaccine. Good luck!
posted by stellaluna at 1:13 PM on April 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Unfortunately, no one knows the answer to whether your migraine is linked to your vaccine dose. Please complete a VAERS report to help answer this question for others in the future though.
posted by latkes at 1:15 PM on April 22, 2021 [13 favorites]

I am prone to headaches but only occasional migraines (maybe once or twice a year). I got my first Pfizer on 3/16 and was fine. On 3/24 I had a low grade headache, I vomited the morning of 3/25 and the headache turned into a migraine. Got my second dose on 4/6, had expected 2nd day symptoms, and then had another bout of nausea and a little headache on 4/15. But also, I am pregnant (2nd trimester, no more regular nausea) and having typical pregnancy indigestion, and was blaming the headaches and puking on that rather than the vaccine. Until I just typed that out and realized the two times I've felt the worst in this pregnancy were both exactly 9 days after a dose. So, who knows?

Dear Pandemic has more on vaccines and menstruation cycles. TLDR: We don't know, but enough people are talking about it that researchers are looking into it.
posted by natabat at 1:19 PM on April 22, 2021

I'm also 42 and I get pre-menstrual migraines sometimes; I got my first Monderna shot a few days before you, and this past week I experienced some symptoms that felt like pre-menstrual migraine, but also some other stuff ( a bit of nausea and lot of fatigue). It does happen to be a pre-mentrual time for me, but the symptoms definitely felt different and more intense this time for me.
posted by bearette at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2021

Best answer: This does not help you personally, but you can report an adverse event to the CDC. This includes things even if you're not sure it was related to the vaccine; collecting these helps identify and perhaps mitigate rare side effects that are tough to separate from background noise.
posted by mark k at 1:30 PM on April 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I got migraines after my first Moderna shot, but not after my second. I've heard similar things from a couple migraineur friends.

It got better.
posted by medusa at 1:30 PM on April 22, 2021

I got a wicked 5 day long migraine after my 2nd. My neurologist had to call in a steroid pack to help break it.
posted by heathrowga at 1:56 PM on April 22, 2021

I had more migraines than usual between my two Moderna shots. They haven’t been severe, but certainly more migraine days than usual. Too soon to say about after the second, I just got that earlier this week. Mine are usually premenstrual and I figure there’s a decent possibility it’s related, given the anecdotal stories among friends and the internet about menstrual cycle effects.
posted by Stacey at 2:12 PM on April 22, 2021

I was part of a group of about 30 people who vaxxed together. We got our 2nd dose yesterday.

4 of them reported headaches the day after the first dose but not four days later like you.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:13 PM on April 22, 2021

A friend of mine experienced their side effect (headache, aches, fatigue) at the 8th day post-vaccine.
posted by dum spiro spero at 2:44 PM on April 22, 2021

I had a migraine 2 days after my second. I was also tired and achy.
posted by kathrynm at 3:49 PM on April 22, 2021

Best answer: I have atypical migraines - usually without pain or with low pain and plus other visual or verbal symptoms. I had my first full-on migraine with vomiting the day after my first Pfizer dose - ended up in the er because I could not stand up, walk, or talk fully coherently. 9 days in, I have a low grade headache with the typical atypical migraine tension behind my eyes, dizziness, and I feel like someone took the caffeine out of my coffee.

Hoping this goes away soon and that dose 2 doesn't kick off a whole new round.
posted by RoadScholar at 5:09 PM on April 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had no idea this could be a thing until reading this ask, but three days after getting the second Pfizer shot, I got vertigo badly enough that I couldn't really walk all that well, and then a pretty bad word-finding problem (anomic aphasia), both of which got me hospitalized for a day and got me a whole bunch of brain scans. (I have existing brain damage so they were being extra-cautious.) Then when I got out of the hospital, I had a severe migraine with pain, throbbing, light sensitivity, nausea, exhaustion, everything; the pain went away after a day but everything else took an entire week to clear up. (FWIW, I am 39 and my period was about a week and a half late after the second shot and seemed a little heavier than usual.)

Also, before that, I didn't get migraines. Ever. I occasionally have small headaches a few times a month that the neurologist I have now seen says are probably very small migraines but I have never in my life had a full-blown migraine. I literally had no idea what was happening to me and had to call my doctor and she said, yep, migraine. So I spent a week being terrified it was never going to go away. It did clear up eventually, though, and the neurologist said he thought it was all stress.

I hope you feel better soon!

Also I'd like to thank everyone else for answering this because I had no idea this was the sort of thing VAERS actually cares about -- I thought they only wanted things that were for sure vaccine-linked -- so now I have reported this.
posted by sineala at 6:12 AM on April 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm 43 and get migraines. I had a 24 hour migraine about 7 hours after the shot (Pfizer) and fatigue. Then really bad PMS symptoms 2 weeks later. My period came 2 days early, was shorter than normal, and came with a wicked visual migraine and head pain.

I've also been under a ton of stress, so I'm not too pressed. I'm hoping shot 2 (this Sunday) goes easy on me.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:39 AM on April 23, 2021

I had a full day of feeling like garbage after my first Pfizer shot. Then I was fine. After my second shot, I felt like mild garbage, but the side effect that keeps persisting is a slightly elevated temp and a headache like...every day. I don't want to call it a fever (my normal body temp is low, so one degree up still isn't a fever, but it feels like a fever, if that makes sense) and the headache is mild, not a migraine. But it is annoying and it saps my will to take care of myself as well as I should.

I signed up for the reporting app and every day when the text comes I just punch in the same thing, feverish, mild headache. When it stops, I will stop reporting it. I trust eventually it will stop. An acquaintance had "real" fevers for two weeks after their Moderna second shot, and it has only been one week for me of this.
posted by 41swans at 8:06 AM on April 23, 2021

I too had no idea that covid vaccination and migraines might be a thing until I read this question. I felt fine after my first Pfizer shot except for a sore arm and stiff neck. After the second shot, I had 1 day of feeling like crap with fatigue and body aches and then was fine until 5 days later, when I had a full-blown migraine (throbbing headache, light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, the works). I had never had a migraine in my life until this. I'm heading to the VAERS site now to fill out a report; I hope you feel better soon.
posted by purplemonkie at 4:29 PM on April 24, 2021

Update! I got my second dose on Sunday. I was really nervous that it was going to be a doozy! I felt fine until almost exactly 24 hours later -- I didn't get a migraine, though! Just really unpleasant body aches that lasted about 8 hours. They're all gone now.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:00 PM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi, I just wanted to follow up: got my 2nd dose 2 days ago, felt feverish and headachey yesterday, but have been doing fine today, and haven't experienced any migraines in five days. Thanks to everyone who responded to this question, but especially those who said some people with migraines have had an easier time with the second vaccine dose; that seems like it is my experience and it was reassurimg to know that it was possible.
posted by lizard music at 3:10 PM on May 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

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