WXXI Local Stories
2:09 am
Tue November 3, 2009

Over-the-Counter Pain Drugs May Affect Vaccine Strength

Rochester, NY – What's in your medicine cabinet may affect how well your flu shot works. The University of Rochester Medical Center conducted a five-year study that finds over-the-counter pain killers --like Ibuprofen--can weaken the immune system's response to vaccines. Dr. Richard Phipps, professor of Environmental Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and of Pediatrics says it's normal for people who've taken influenza or swine flu vaccinations to experience a fever or discomfort around the injection site.

"So sometimes it's recommended that people might take, for example, Tylenol, or aspirin or Ibuprofen," Phipps says. "So our study shows that that's not a good idea because it may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccination."

Phipps says it's hard to say as to how much of an affect Tylenol or Advil has on a person's immune system.

He says only one European study reports the same findings--recommending people to steer clear of pain relievers when being vaccinated.

Phipps says people shouldn't take any commonly used anti-inflammatory or fever reducers the day before --or a few days after-- getting a flu shot. Although, he says in the case of a high fever in a child or seizures, pain relievers should be taken.

Phipps says acetaminophen--the active ingredient in Tylenol-- impacts all ages and slows the bodies' ability to produce bacteria fighting cells.