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.
If you haven’t yet been vaccinated, what are the do’s and don’ts of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine? I’ll break it down into before your vaccination; the day of the vaccination itself; and after you receive the vaccine.
For two weeks before you’re planning 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 you get vaccinated:
- 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 vaccination site.
- 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 vaccination
- 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. 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.
After you’re vaccinated
- DO follow any instructions you’re given when you receive the vaccine…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 consider yourself fully vaccinated until two weeks after your final vaccine dose.
After You Are Fully Vaccinated
The CDC says that fully vaccinated people can resume many activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. Some of these activities are safer, others are less safe. But the agency still has some do’s and don’ts for you to keep in mind:
- DO still follow federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws about masking and distancing.
- DO watch out for symptoms of COVID-19…because even though it happens rarely, some fully vaccinated people do still get sick with the coronavirus.
- If you have symptoms, DO get tested and stay away from other people.
- DON’T ignore the rules that individual businesses or employers require about masking and distancing. This includes entering stores, restaurants, and other types of venues.
- DON’T go unmasked when riding on airplanes, buses, or trains.
I have some concerns about not wearing a mask in certain situations that the CDC might consider safe.
But whether I’m masked or unmasked, as someone who is fully vaccinated I know that I now face a much, much lower risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19. And I can’t begin to describe what a relief that is!