After toiling through a pandemic full of loss, grief and worry, making an appointment for that first vaccine can be an emotional experience. Whether it’s for the safety of loved ones, getting back to work or just being able to hug friends and family, there are a myriad of reasons the COVID-19 vaccine feels like a step toward normalcy.
Tryon Medical Partners’ Dr. Tina Kennelly called it “a feeling of hope.” As director of research, Dr. Kennelly helped with COVID-19 vaccine trials right here in Charlotte that resulted in the highly effective vaccines being delivered today. As she encourages patients to get this life-saving vaccine when their turn comes available, she remembers the emotions that came along with getting the vaccine herself.
When your spot comes up to get the shot, here are seven things Tryon shares to help you be prepared.
1. Get the Vaccine Wherever You Can
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has created a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan that includes five groups. When the vaccine is available for your group, don’t hesitate to make an appointment wherever you find the vaccine is available. Between county health offices, mass vaccination events and now pharmacies, find the local vaccine provider near you and make an appointment.
2. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Similar to when you get a flu shot, the COVID-19 vaccine is given in the upper arm. Especially if you’re getting the vaccine at a drive-through event, you’ll want to dress warmly, but wear layers so your provider can easily access your upper arm.
3. Wear a Mask and Practice Social Distancing
The steps we’ve come to know well to prevent COVID-19 are still necessary. Wear a mask and practice social distancing throughout your vaccine appointment — and after. While the vaccines are highly effective, that effectiveness is not fully reached until at least two weeks after your second shot. And, even at 95% effectiveness, some people will still contact COVID-19. Masks and social distancing will be necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until far more people have been vaccinated.
4. Know You May Experience Side Effects
Just like when getting a flu shot, the COVID-19 vaccine can make your arm sore. You may also experience low-grade fever, achiness and joint stiffness for a day or two. These side effects are completely normal and don’t mean you’re getting sick. In fact, this is a good thing because it means your immune system is working to create antibodies that will later help fight off the virus if you are exposed.
5. Before Your Appointment, Do Not Take Acetaminophen
Acetaminophen or NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can be purchased over-the-counter to reduce pain, inflammation and fever. While side effects can be helped by taking medications like this after your appointment, it is best to not take them before unless they are part of your ongoing regime, like for chronic pain. Not enough information is currently available to know if these medications could impact your antibody production.
6. You’ll Need To Wait 15 Minutes After Your Vaccine
Your vaccine provider will ask you to wait on-site for at least 15 minutes to assure you have no adverse reactions. While reactions are rare, this is a safety precaution. If you have had adverse reactions to vaccines in the past, bring this to your provider’s attention.
7. Schedule Your Next Appointment
If you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, our vaccine provider should go ahead and schedule the appointment for your second dose before you leave. The full vaccine effectiveness of 94-95% is only achieved several weeks after the second dose has been administered. By keeping these seven tips in mind for your COVID-19 vaccine appointment, you’ll be ready for the shot, and will be armed with another layer of protection for you and your loved ones. For additional questions about the vaccine, learn more through Tryon’s COVID-19 resources and continue staying healthy by scheduling your wellness visits and seeing providers for your ongoing medical needs.