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  • Writer's pictureEquilibrium Pain Management Coaching & Massage Therapy

Massage and the COVID-19 vaccine - what you need to know

There is some information in regard to receiving massage therapy that is very important for you to know. This has been put together and kindly shared by leading massage therapy educator and author on pathology texts for massage therapists, Ruth Werner.

In New Zealand the COVID-19 vaccine roll out started in February with border and MIQ workers. Currently high-risk front line workers and people living or working in high risk places are being vaccinated. In May it will be rolled out to the elderly and people with underlying health conditions who are more likely to get very sick if they catch the virus. Then from July it will be provided to the rest of the general population.

The Pfizer mRNA vaccine is a 2 dose vaccination with at least 21 days between the first and second vaccinations. The technology used in the vaccine means that it does not introduce the virus into the human body, it just introduces the code for it. This triggers an immune response, so our body produces antibodies to fight the virus. This vaccine has been shown to result in a bigger immune response than you might get with say, the annual flu vaccine. This is good because it means the immune system is doing what it should - creating a healthy and aggressive response.

It also means that you could have more side effects than you might have with other vaccines. Side effects can include pain and swelling at the injection site in your arm

(this happens with most people), headache, fever, muscle and joint aches and pains, fatigue, chills, and for some people, nausea and vomiting. It appears that symptoms are more severe after the second dose, and symptoms can last for 1-2 days after the vaccination. I have had some clients who are front line health workers who have had their either just their first or both vaccines report having had some or a number of these symptoms.

The advice for massage clients receiving the vaccine, is that you wait for at least 2 days before having a massage, just in case you have a delayed and unpleasant reaction. I would therefore HIGHLY recommend that once you know when you are booked to receive your first and second COVID-19 vaccinations, check you massage bookings and reschedule them so you have at least a gap of 2 days after the vaccine to ensure you feel better. Having a massage when your body is sore, achy, you feel feverish and generally yukky is counterproductive. Allowing your body time for it to carry out an immune response and recover is sound advice. I know that once I am scheduled for my vaccinations, I certainly won't be working on the 2 days after my jabs!

If you are having trouble re-booking your massage appointment online, please get in touch with me in advance. Ideally, the more notice I have about rescheduling massage appointments, the better as it means other clients can fill the appointments. Given that appointments are booking up a few weeks in advance at present, this would be really helpful.

If you would like more information about the vaccine, there are a number of really good resources available on the internet:

  • In this webinar presentation, Dr Nikki Turner, Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre discusses the COVID-19 vaccines. This is a great overview and while it is primarily aimed at health care professionals, it is presented in an easy to understand way and provides information on the science behind the vaccine development, how they work and the New Zealand strategy in the upcoming year.

  • The Immunisation Advisory Centre has the latest information on the vaccine and roll-out in New Zealand. It provides news updates, information on getting vaccinated and more. All the information included on the website is relevant to to New Zealand, is reliable and evidence-based. I recommend checking it out if you want to know more.

  • This webpage from the above page, covers how the Pfizer vaccine works, vaccine safety and an excellent FAQ covering questions such as - COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy and breastfeeding, COVID-19 vaccine and general anaesthetic, timeframe between doses, receiving other vaccines e.g. influenza, and is the vaccine safe and effective for people living with HIV.

  • Here, Dr Siouxie Wiles and Toby Morris explain how the Pfizer vaccine works using their usual fantastic animations and accessible science information

  • In this video, the Ministry of Health Chief Science Advisor Dr Ian Town explains how mRNA vaccine works


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