The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging for people living with fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body.

People with fibromyalgia often live with other chronic conditions that can increase their risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. And even a mild case of COVID-19 may cause fibromyalgia symptoms to flare up.

Fortunately, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for people with fibromyalgia. If you have fibromyalgia, getting vaccinated, and staying up to date with booster shots, is the best way to protect yourself.

People with fibromyalgia face unique challenges when they become ill. Research published in 2021 has found that, overall, fibromyalgia symptoms might get worse in people diagnosed with COVID-19.

As such, the COVID-19 vaccine may have the added benefit of helping prevent a worsening of the fibromyalgia symptoms that you may already cope with daily.

Fibromyalgia symptoms include:

Also, physical stress due to an infection can trigger a symptom flare-up. Fibromyalgia flare-ups are periods where fibromyalgia symptoms become worse than usual.

Emotional stress can also lead to a flare-up. Getting vaccinated can help provide peace of mind, which benefits your physical and mental health. When you’re fully vaccinated, you can get outside and socialize with more confidence, an important part of maintaining your mental wellness.

Some people who get the COVID-19 vaccine won’t have any side effects. When they do happen, some of the most common vaccine side effects include:

These side effects are a sign that your body’s immune is responding to the vaccine. They should go away within a few days.

Some of the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine overlap with fibromyalgia symptoms. You may feel like your fibromyalgia symptoms worsen slightly in the days after getting your vaccine.

There are currently no reports in the scientific or medical literature of fibromyalgia flare-ups following the COVID-19 vaccine.

Testimonials from individuals with fibromyalgia also contain no mention of flare-ups after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Also, a 2015 study found that fibromyalgia symptoms didn’t change after participants received the flu vaccine, which has similar side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine.

There are no specific COVID-19 vaccination recommendations for people with fibromyalgia. If you have fibromyalgia, you should follow the general recommendations for people in your age group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age 5 and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The table below shows the current COVID-19 vaccine recommendations at the time of publication.

Primary seriesFirst boosterSecond booster
Pfizer-BioNTechAges 5 to 11:
2 doses spaced 3 weeks apart

Age 12 and up:
2 doses spaced 3 to 8 weeks apart
Ages 5 to 11:
Not recommended

Ages 12 to 17:
Pfizer-BioNTech booster at least 5 months after primary series

Age 18 and up:
Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster at least 5 months after primary series
Age 50 and up:
Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster at least 4 months after first booster
ModernaAge 18 and up:
2 doses spaced 4 to 8 weeks apart
Age 18 and up:
Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster at least 5 months after primary series
Age 50 and up:
Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster at least 4 months after first booster
Johnson & JohnsonAge 18 and up: One doseAge 18 and up:
Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster at least 2 months after primary dose
Age 50 and up:
Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster at least 4 months after first booster

According to the CDC, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, both mRNA vaccines, are preferable to the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. This is because mRNA vaccines are more effective and have a better overall safety profile than the J&J vaccine.

Clinical trials found that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were 95 percent and 94.1 percent, respectively, effective at preventing COVID-19. However, these numbers have dropped with the emergence of new virus variants.

While their effectiveness at preventing infections has dropped, mRNA vaccines still prevent severe illness and hospitalization. Studies have found that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines remain very effective at preventing hospitalization due to the Omicron variant.

Research from 2021 has found that fibromyalgia itself doesn’t put you at an increased risk of severe COVID-19. However, many people with fibromyalgia have other health conditions (comorbidities) that do raise the risk for severe COVID-19.

Examples of such conditions include:

  • autoimmune diseases
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • obesity

Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine significantly reduces the likelihood of becoming severely ill with COVID-19.

It’s estimated that fibromyalgia impacts about 5 percent of the world’s population. Its cause is still unknown, although a combination of genetics and environmental triggers is believed to play a role.

Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those you may experience with fibromyalgia, including:

However, several other symptoms can indicate you may have contracted SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These include:

If you develop worrisome symptoms and think you may have COVID-19, it’s important to get tested. Both PCR and antigen tests can detect current infections.

Use the Department of Health and Human Services search tool to find community-based testing centers. You can also obtain at-home COVID-19 tests at your local pharmacy or order free home tests from the government.

Some insurance providers, including Medicare, may cover the costs of home tests or offer reimbursements. Check with your provider for specifics.

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for people with fibromyalgia. There are currently no reports of significant side effects in individuals with fibromyalgia who’ve been vaccinated. Developing COVID-19 may cause the symptoms of fibromyalgia to worsen. Getting vaccinated will help protect you from severe illness and prevent a mild case of COVID-19 from potentially triggering a fibromyalgia symptom flare.

There aren’t any specific COVID-19 vaccine guidelines for people with fibromyalgia. Overall, the CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older receive a full vaccination series and boosters.

If you have any vaccine-related questions or concerns, be sure to discuss them with a doctor.