COVID-19 vaccine pop up clinic in Newburg neighborhood by UofL Health

(WDRB file photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, doctors are making sure they're aware of potential side effects. 

Most people have heard of symptoms such as sore arms or a brief onset of flu-like symptoms, but doctors are also making sure people know about the potentially swollen lymph nodes. 

“After somebody receives the vaccine, the body’s job is to respond to that and one of the ways it does that is by the lymph nodes swelling. So this is a normal and a recorded side effect of the COVID vaccine," said Dr. Laila Agrawal, a medical oncologist with Norton Healthcare.

Agrawal said she's seeing women come in for mammograms, worried about a new lump that's developed under their armpit. 

“Of course with breast cancer awareness, women may be concerned that a swollen lymph node under the armpit may be a sign of cancer, said Agrawal. "And while it can be, this actually can happen as a normal issue after the COVID vaccine.”

According to Agrawal, “Other vaccines can also cause swelling in the lymph nodes but the rates are reported to be higher with the COVID vaccine."

She said swollen lymph nodes have been reported with both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and can occur in men and women.

Agrawal said if swelling occurs from the vaccine, it appears in the same arm where people received the vaccine. In fact, she said it happened to her.

“When I got my COVID vaccine I actually got a swollen lymph node under my armpit. So a couple days, just right about three days after the vaccine, I got a tender, swollen lymph node under my armpit but I knew it was just my body working and trying to develop immunity against COVID," said Agrawal. 

Agrawal said she got her second vaccine dose in her other arm and developed a swollen lymph node on that side of her neck for a few days. Again, it went away on its own. 

She said if patients have a swollen lymph node that doesn't go away after a few days or grows, they need to call a doctor.

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