What to Expect After Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccinations continue across the country, with more states broadening the scope of individuals who can now receive them.
Health officials recommend most adults, including those with chronic illnesses, to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available in their area.
Here are some of the things you can expect after you get vaccinated.
Before you Get a Vaccine
If you are a chronic disease patient, it’s essential you speak to your doctor before getting vaccinated, as they may recommend changes in your medication and reschedule your infusion treatment to prevent possible interference with the vaccine.
Before you receive the vaccine, you will have to answer a few screening questions. Please make sure to inform healthcare personnel at the vaccination site about your chronic illness and history of allergic reactions if you have any.
Risk of Allergic Reactions
The number of people experiencing allergic reactions after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine appears minimal. As per CDC data, allergic reactions from the Pfizer-BioNTech shot affect about 11 people per million and 2.5 individuals per million experience an allergic reaction from the Moderna shot.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction usually present themselves within 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine. For this reason, there is typically a 15-minute observation period after receiving the shot. For individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions, the observation period can extend to up to 30 minutes.
Should you experience an allergic reaction later, please make sure to inform your doctor and seek emergency medical assistance when needed.
Common Side Effects
Most people report mild side effects that can include:
- Pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
Some reported feeling mild to moderate flu-like symptoms for one or two days after getting vaccinated.
Second Dose Side Effects
The COVID-19 vaccine helps your immune system create neutralizing antibodies that block the virus from entering your cells and making you sick.
The purpose of the second dose is to boost the immune system to act better and faster against the virus. This increased response also helps generate longer-lived immune cells that can respond to the coronavirus’s spike protein for an extended period.
Because your body already has antibodies from the first dose of the vaccine, it’s common to experience a more robust immune response from the second dose and more intense side effects.
To allow your body time to recover, you may want to request a day or two off work or school after getting the second dose of the vaccine.
Scheduling a Second Dose
Don’t let the fear of experiencing side effects prevent you from receiving the second vaccine dose. The dangers of not receiving the second shot far outweigh the possible discomfort you will feel a few days after getting the second vaccine.
The first shot produces short-term antibodies while the second dose will help create long-term memory cells that can protect you against COVID-19 down the road.
The wait time to receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine depends on the brand vaccine you received. The waiting period for the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is three weeks, while the Moderna vaccine’s waiting period is four weeks.
Timeline for Immunity
The first vaccine dose provides some protection against COVID-19. However, to receive optimal protection, the second dose is necessary.
In clinical trials, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed 95% effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 two weeks after the second dose.
Safety Guidelines After Vaccination
Clinical trial data show sufficient protection against COVID-19 after the second dose.
What researchers are trying to determine, however, is if a vaccinated individual can still become infected with the virus (without developing symptoms) and spread the virus to others.
For this reason, even you are fully vaccinated, you must still:
- Wear a mask when out in public
- Maintain physical distancing of at least 6-feet
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly
Additionally, please make sure to inform your doctor of any new or worsening symptoms related to your chronic illness after being vaccinated.