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Arexvy side effects and how to avoid them

Arexvy side effects are typically mild, but you should still be aware of the potential serious side effects when getting any vaccine

Key takeaways

  • Arexvy is a vaccine for adults over 60 to prevent RSV, a virus that can cause severe respiratory issues. 

  • Common side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, and headaches, typically as the body builds immunity.

  • Serious side effects are rare but may include allergic reactions, with symptoms like rash and trouble breathing. 

  • The FDA considers Arexvy safe, although reporting systems like VAERS continue to monitor its safety.

Arexvy is a vaccine developed to prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in older adults, specifically those who are 60 years of age and older. In this age group, there may be a higher risk of problems from an RSV infection, including pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Arexvy works by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies against RSV, which leads to a stronger immune response against the virus.

Like other vaccines, Arexvy may cause side effects, such as injection site pain and swelling. While these side effects are typically mild and temporary, there are also potential risks of more severe reactions, and it’s important to report any unusual or concerning symptoms to a healthcare provider. 

Read on to learn more about the potential side effects of Arexvy and how to manage them. 

Common side effects of Arexvy

Arexvy has been associated with a range of side effects. While most of these are not severe, it is common for people to experience certain reactions following the vaccination.

  • Injection site pain, redness, and swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Joint pain

These side effects are typically part of the body’s natural response as it builds immunity against the virus. Healthcare professionals recommend monitoring for side effects that persist or worsen following the administration of Arexvy.

Serious side effects of Arexvy

Arexvy may cause several serious side effects, although these are less common. Individuals should seek immediate medical attention if they experience any of the following:

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to Arexvy can occur, with symptoms like hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and a drop in blood pressure. It is important to seek immediate medical help if any signs of an allergic reaction develop following vaccination. 


Fainting, also known as syncope, is a temporary loss of consciousness typically caused by a psychogenic response or a reaction driven by emotional stress, anxiety, or fear. Some individuals may experience fainting episodes after receiving the Arexvy vaccine. Those who faint after vaccination should be carefully monitored and assessed by healthcare professionals.

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a heart condition characterized by an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can lead to poor blood flow and other problems. People who received Arexvy or a placebo were monitored for serious side effects six months after administration. Results found that 13 people reported experiencing atrial fibrillation. In comparison, 15 cases of AFib were reported in the placebo group. Atrial fibrillation occurred at a comparable frequency regardless of whether participants received Arexvy or a placebo.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves, which can lead to muscle weakness and paralysis. After getting the Arexvy vaccine, a person in Japan developed GBS nine days later. This single report doesn’t mean the vaccine caused the syndrome, but it does raise questions that need more research.

Inflammation in the brain and spinal cord

Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, is a serious condition where inflammation occurs in the brain and spinal cord, often after an infection or, in rare cases, a vaccination. There were two people in South Africa who developed ADEM after getting the Arexvy vaccine, with symptoms starting seven and 22 days after vaccination. One person died while the other survived. Both people had also received a flu vaccine at the same time, which made it difficult to determine which vaccine might have been linked to the adverse event. 

Are there any reports of death?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) label, 49 individuals (0.4%) out of a total of 12,467 participants who were given Arexvy died from any cause. Interestingly, a slightly higher number of deaths were reported in the placebo group, with 58 participants (0.5%) out of 12,499 individuals passing away. The causes of death varied and reflected the types of health issues commonly seen in adult and older adult groups, which is the population that was studied. Therefore, the data does not show the vaccine caused these deaths, which may have occurred by chance and may not be related to the vaccine.

How soon do Arexvy side effects start?

After receiving the Arexvy vaccine, individuals may begin to notice side effects relatively quickly, often within the first few hours to a couple of days post-vaccination. However, the onset of these reactions varies from person to person. While some may experience side effects soon after the vaccination, others might not notice symptoms for several days. 

How long do Arexvy side effects last?

Many common side effects, like fatigue, headaches, and fever, are short-lived. These reactions are often a sign of the immune system activating and generally subside without the need for medical intervention. The time frame for these symptoms to resolve can vary, but they typically go away within a few days after receiving the vaccine. Consult a healthcare provider if side effects persist or worsen.

What are the long-term side effects of Arexvy?

According to the available data from clinical trials, the Arexvy vaccine has no known long-term side effects. However, researchers are continuing to monitor and study potential long-term side effects.

Arexvy interactions

In people who take immunosuppressive drugs, vaccines might not generate the desired immune response. This is due to the suppression of the immune system, which can prevent the body from creating enough antibodies to protect against an RSV infection. 

Examples of immunosuppressants include:

  • Imuran (azathioprine)
  • Neoral (cyclosporine)
  • Prograf (tacrolimus)
  • CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil)
  • Rapamune (sirolimus)
  • Orencia (abatacept)
  • Rituxan (rituximab)
  • Humira (adalimumab)
  • Remicade (infliximab)

If you are on an immunosuppressive treatment plan, a healthcare provider will evaluate the potential benefits and risks of administering Arexvy. They may also delay vaccination until the end of treatment or adjust the medication plan to prevent potential drug interactions. 

Before receiving the Arexvy vaccine, tell a healthcare provider about any medications you take, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal supplements.

Safety measures while using Arexvy

Various safety measures should be considered before getting an Arexvy vaccination. Some individuals may need to consult their healthcare provider before receiving Arexvy.

People with weakened immune systems could have reduced immune responses to the vaccine. If you have existing health conditions, it’s recommended to seek medical advice to understand the potential effects of Arexvy on your health.

According to the prescribing information, Arexvy is not recommended for those who have experienced a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine. This group includes individuals who have had an anaphylactic reaction, which is a serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction characterized by symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, rapid heartbeat, and a drop in blood pressure.

Arexvy is not FDA-approved for individuals younger than 60, including women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

People interested in getting the vaccine should check the latest updates on the FDA website for any new information regarding recalls or boxed warnings. As of now, there are no such warnings for Arexvy.

How to avoid Arexvy side effects

To minimize or avoid common side effects, consider the following steps: 

  • Schedule your vaccination for a time when you can rest afterward. This is because fatigue or tiredness is a common side effect. 
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water before and after vaccination may help diminish side effects like headaches. 
  • Wear comfortable clothing that allows easy access to the arm to minimize discomfort at the injection site. 
  • Inform your healthcare provider ahead of time if you tend to faint with injections so they can take precautions.

A healthcare professional can provide guidance based on your overall condition. Before receiving the vaccine, contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions about side effects.

How to treat side effects of Arexvy

Managing the side effects of Arexvy involves both over-the-counter remedies and practical methods to alleviate discomfort. For mild reactions such as fatigue or headaches, you may consider using Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) and following the recommended dosage. To reduce fever, it’s often helpful to stay hydrated and rest. 

You can treat injection site reactions by applying cold compresses to reduce pain and swelling in the upper arm. Engaging in gentle movements may also help relieve muscle aches or joint pain. It’s important to monitor your symptoms closely. You can manage mild allergic reactions with antihistamines; however, medical attention is necessary if symptoms persist or worsen.

Do not take over-the-counter remedies to prevent side effects without guidance from a healthcare provider.  

Bottom line: Is Arexvy safe?

Arexvy is an intramuscular RSV vaccine given as a single dose to older adults over 60. It was approved and deemed safe and effective by the FDA. Most side effects include pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headache, which are generally mild and temporary. However, severe side effects, including allergic reactions, are possible. Reach out to a healthcare provider if side effects persist and become bothersome. 

To further ensure safety, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) monitors any unexpected side effects post-approval. This system allows healthcare providers and patients to report adverse effects, providing ongoing surveillance of vaccine safety.

RELATED: Is Arexvy covered by Medicare?