COVID-19 vaccine: Should you get a shot ahead of surgery? Timing is everything
February 28, 2021
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Many of the 2.2 million Ohioans now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine also wonder how to time the shot with upcoming medical procedures.
Some hospital systems are urging patients to get vaccinated first, and others suggest waiting, but all recommend a consult with the caregiver first.
The chief caution, providers said, is not the vaccine itself but the potential for a recipient to experience a fever after vaccination. Elevated body temperature after vaccination indicates that the body’s immune system is learning to fight off the new coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a vaccine-triggered fever generally subsides in a day or two.
But running a fever in the day ahead of surgery or a procedure can force a provider to postpone or cancel the procedure, said Dr. Marc Orlando at the MayfieldBrain & Spine practice. Earlier in February, the practice had to send a patient home ahead of a procedure because of the patient’s complaints of muscle aches and chills.
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“I’m living proof of the effect,” Orlando said. “I just got my vaccination, and I told a friend I felt like a small truck, not a large truck, hit me last night.”
It’s hard for a provider to determine whether a fevered patient is responding to a vaccination or is fighting off an infection, Orlando said, and that uncertainty means providers will be cautious about proceeding.
UC Health, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and other hospital systems in the Cincinnati area have encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. Guy Karrick, spokesman forSt. Elizabeth said, “The answer is yes, you should get the vaccine if you are facing an upcoming surgery. However, you should talk to your doctor about the appropriate timing.”
Karrick said vaccine doses can ideally be spaced at least 72 hours ahead of surgery to avoid any fever that would mean canceling the surgery.
Orthopedic surgeon David Argo at the Beacon Orthopedics practice said he’s told 50 patients already that they should make sure to get a vaccination at least three days before any surgery or procedure. “There’s no contraindication for the vaccine, so it’s an inconvenience more than anything else, but we don’t want to operate on people who have a fever,” he said. Published 10:04 p.m. ET Feb. 15, 2021