What to Expect When You Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine

As vaccine production ramps up and new products receive FDA authorization, vaccine distribution is progressing across the country. Know what to expect when it’s your turn to roll up your sleeve.

Prepare For Your Shot

You’ve been counting down the days to your appointment since sometime last spring, and the day is finally here. How best to prepare?

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, people generally should not stop taking any regular prescription medications in the days prior to vaccination, nor discontinue any over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that they take on a regular basis. But speak with your doctor to determine the right course for your individual needs.
  • The CDC discourages the use of any OTC medications in order to pre-treat potential vaccine side effects, as it’s unknown whether meds like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and antihistamines may interfere with vaccine efficacy.
  • Don’t get any other vaccines (including flu and shingles) within the two-week period before your COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Get plenty of rest and stay well hydrated in the days leading up to your shot to help your body handle any potential side effects.

Manage Side Effects

Side effects, though they can be uncomfortable, are simply your body’s natural response as it builds up protection against the COVID-19 virus. Some people will experience a range of side effects, some people won’t experience any – there is no wrong response. Your body is building immunity whether you feel it or not. Side effects may include:

  • Pain, redness, and/or swelling at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Getting plenty of rest and fluids after your shot can help alleviate many side effects, and many others can be managed with an OTC pain medication or antihistamine (which are generally deemed safe to take after your vaccination) – talk to your doctor.

Also contact your doctor if your injection site gets progressively redder or more tender after 24 hours, or if your side effects cause concern or don’t start to subside after a few days.

Life After Vaccination

After a year filled with varying degrees of stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules, the CDC has finally come out with a set of guidelines that start to lay the groundwork for a return to normal life.

They advise that all people, whether vaccinated or not, should continue protocols like masks and distancing when in public spaces – but have issued the following advice regarding behavior in private settings. According to the CDC, once you’ve received your vaccine in its prescribed single- or multi-dose form, and waited the recommended amount of time for the shot to be considered fully effective, you may:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart.
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart if everyone in the other household is at low risk for severe disease.
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 after contact with someone who has COVID-19.

It’s been a long road to this point, but with vaccine distribution in full swing there’s hope in sight. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!