It’s all over TikTok, but does swinging your arm after the Covid vaccine actually help?

A scientist said it’s ‘harmless and looks very silly’

Now all over-18s can finally get the Covid vaccine, people all over TikTok are swinging their arm around because it apparently makes it less numb and sore. But now scientists have said this is probably just a “placebo effect”.

It seems like your entire TikTok FYP is full of people getting the Covid vaccine and then swinging their arms round in circles. They caption it things like “me right after bc I don’t want a sore arm”. But does swinging your arm like on TikTok actually make the vaccine hurt less?

There haven’t been any known controlled trials studying the effect of swinging your arm, or windmills, on helping arm pain after the Covid vaccine.

vaccine arm swinging

The Guardian spoke to a number of scientists about how effective the TikTok ‘hack’ actually is.

One said it’s silly but harmless. Beate Kampmann, professor of paediatric infection and immunity and director of the Vaccine Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “It’s harmless, looks very silly and won’t do anything.

“The sore arm does not actually happen immediately as the immune response has not yet happened, and not everyone gets it either. Let people wave their arms if it makes anyone feel better.”

Another agreed it’s not harmful, but said any positive effect is probably a placebo.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and an honorary consultant at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: “I doubt it is harmful – or helpful beyond any placebo effect, which could be substantial.”

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca told The Guardian they were “certainly not aware of it being helpful” in reducing pain after a vaccine. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson both said there wasn’t sufficient scientific evidence for them to comment.

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