Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is incredibly important to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting this devastating disease. It’s also absolutely critical for getting this pandemic under control…so we can begin to live more normal lives again.
Right now, many people around the country are eager to get vaccination appointments, so we may need to be patient. As vaccine production continues, it will get easier and easier for vaccination sites to meet this demand, and eventually we will all get our chance.
Once you do get an appointment, what are the do’s and don’ts of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine? I’ll break it down into before your appointment; the day of the appointment itself; and after the appointment.
Before Your Appointment
For two weeks before you’re scheduled to get the vaccine:
- DON’T get any other vaccinations, like a flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we don’t know how these vaccines will interact with each other.
For 24 hours before the appointment:
- DO take good care of yourself! Get good rest. Drink a lot of water. Eat a good meal before you go. This may help you feel better if you get any side effects from the vaccination.
- DO confirm your transportation to your appointment.
- DON’T take any pain relievers, like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen. We don’t know whether this might make the vaccines less effective.
At Your Appointment
- DO bring a mask, your photo ID, your appointment confirmation number (if you have one), and either your insurance card or your red, white, and blue Medicare card (ages 65+).
- DO be patient if there’s a line (and there very well may be). You might want to bring a book to read or something else to pass the time.
- DO be prepared to stick around for about 15 minutes after you receive the vaccine. This is so the people giving the shots can make sure you’re okay and not having any kind of a negative reaction.
- DO make sure you schedule your second vaccination (if you’re receiving a two-dose vaccine), and write it down in your calendar.
- DON’T leave empty handed!
You should receive a vaccination card or a printout that says which vaccine you received, and when and where you received it. This will serve as verification that you’ve received the vaccine.
You should also receive a fact sheet with some instructions about what to expect and what to watch out for.
After Your Appointment
- DO follow any instructions you’re given at your vaccination appointment…which will probably include what negative reactions to the vaccine you should watch out for.
- DO be prepared for some side effects. Not everyone has them, but if you get them, they can be strong. The CDC says you could experience pain and/or swelling at the spot where you got the injection; fever; headaches; chills; aches; or tiredness. You could even feel absolutely lousy, like you’ve got the flu…but it should only last a day or two. If you do get symptoms like these, it does NOT mean you’ve caught COVID-19. It means your body is building a strong immune response. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine because the vaccine doesn’t contain any coronavirus.
- DON’T miss your appointment for your second shot, if yours is a two-dose vaccine. This is important to make sure you get the maximum protection that the vaccine can offer.
- DON’T stop following COVID-19 precautions.
The CDC recommends that, with certain exceptions, you DO continue to wear a mask, wash your hands often, and stay at least six feet away from anyone that you don’t live with.
- We know the vaccines are very effective against people becoming sick with COVID, but we aren’t sure yet how well they protect you from catching and spreading the coronavirus without getting symptoms yourself.
- We don’t know how long immunity against the virus lasts.
- There are many new variants of the virus being passed around, and the vaccine may not be equally effective against all of them.
- A very small percentage of people still get COVID-19 in spite of being vaccinated.
Just the same, you DO get to experience some of the freedoms and social interactions you’ve probably been missing! The CDC says:
- It’s safe to gather together indoors, unmasked, with other people who’ve been fully vaccinated.
- You can enter a single household of unvaccinated people without wearing a mask — as long as they are at low risk for COVID-19 complications.
- If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you don’t need to get tested or self-quarantine — unless you live in a group setting, like a group home.
And in spite of the need to keep following many precautions, DO know that you are getting powerful protection. These vaccines are extremely effective in preventing the horrible potential health risks and complications that this virus can cause.