Do's and Don'ts When Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine
Photo: Northwestern Medicine

Recent polls demonstrate that a greater percentage of Americans (~60%) intend to be Covid-19 vaccinated, but the number is still lower than the 80-plus percentage of vaccine coverage likely necessary to achieve herd immunity. If the U.S. could achieve herd immunity, as we have for other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and polio, we could not only find our way out of this pandemic but have the potential to sustain our newfound ‘normal.’

With that in mind, here are some Do’s and Don’ts that you could consider when you’re ready for your Covid-19 vaccination.

DO:

Plan for side effects

Congratulate yourself on deciding to get vaccinated. Widespread Covid-19 vaccination and continued strict implementation of public health interventions, such as masking and social distancing, represent the country’s greatest hope of continuing the downward trend in new cases and avoiding yet another surge.

Accept whichever vaccine is available

Avoid "vaccine shopping" and take whichever vaccine you are offered. You may have a preconceived notion that one vaccine is superior to the others, but in truth, all three are helping us put an end to this pandemic.

Wear a mask or face covering

Your vaccine provider will likely require you to wear a mask, but wear one even if they don't. Masks are still proven to slow the spread of COVID-19 viral particles, and you'll be in relatively close quarters with strangers -- and you're not vaccinated yet, according to CNET.

Schedule your second shot, if needed

Consider scheduling your vaccinations at a time when you have some flexibility in your work day and/or family responsibilities. Following vaccination with the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, 6-8 out of 10 people will experience mild to moderate arm pain at the site of injection.

Do's and Don'ts When Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine
Photo: Forbes

Wait in the clinic for 15 minutes

Most vaccine providers will require you to hang around for 15 minutes after getting vaccinated to watch for any immediate and severe side effects. Even if you feel fine, wait just in case.

Check with your doctor beforehand about health conditions and medications

Have conversations with your doctor if you have concerns about whether your pre-existing medical problems or the medications you take, could impact the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine. The trials testing both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines enrolled volunteers with stable medical conditions, and the vaccines were shown to be safe and effective, reported Forbes.

However, the trials did not include volunteers possessing every medical condition and did not include volunteers taking certain types of medications that could suppress their immune systems. The CDC addresses a variety of questions about who can and should be vaccinated, but you should also talk to your doctor or local health department if you have questions.

Wear a short-sleeve shirt to make it easier

The shot goes in your shoulder, so wear a loose, short-sleeve shirt to make it easy on the provider and comfortable for you.

Reschedule if you have known exposure or symptoms

If you're due to get the vaccine but start showing symptoms or are notified that you've been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, follow the current CDC guidelines for quarantine and self-isolation. Reschedule your appointment for sometime after you satisfy those CDC guidelines.

Log your vaccination with the new CDC tool

Get set up with V-safe, the CDC's "after vaccination health checker" tool. Sign up online and log the day and time of your vaccine, as well as the type of vaccine you got. The tool will also ask for your name, age, biological sex, and some other basic information.

Once you're set-up, you can report any side effects you experience after getting the vaccine. Someone from the CDC may contact you if they think your report requires follow-up (such as in the case of severe symptoms).

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DO NOT:

Medicate yourself prior to vaccination

Although using these medications at the time of vaccination may take the edge off, there are studies that suggest those medications can make the vaccine less effective. If you do have a reaction, it is ok to consider taking a dose of acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (i.e., Advil, Motrin), but check with your doctor first.

Post a selfie with your vaccine card

We're glad you're proud of your COVID-19 vaccine, but showing off your vaccine card could be an invitation for scammers. Because the record cards have personal information such as your full name, birth date, and the location where you received your vaccine, posting a photo makes you vulnerable to identity theft.

That's not all: Some experts think scammers may copy COVID-19 vaccine cards to pretend that they're vaccinated. This trend will only increase if public places and transportation modes start requiring people to show some sort of proof of vaccination (like Israel's green pass).

Lose or throw away your vaccine card

If you need a second shot, you'll have to show your provider the timestamp on your vaccine card -- so that's one reason to keep it handy. Additionally, public places and transportation (including airlines) may start requiring some form of COVID-19 vaccine documentation for safety.

Get other vaccines at the same time

Mix and match your Covid-19 vaccines. You should receive the same vaccine for all required doses made by the same manufacturer. Although the two vaccines that are currently under EUA are very similar, there are differences in the individual ingredients of each vaccine formulation and mixing has not been demonstrated to be safe or effective. If there is some reason your 2nd dose is not immediately available, it’s okay to delay your second dose until you can receive the same vaccine.

Toss your mask and stop social distancing afterward

Stop wearing a mask and practicing physical and social distancing once you’re vaccinated. Until a significantly large portion of the population is vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved, it’s important for everyone to show solidarity for public health measures. Additionally, while the data shows that vaccines prevent disease, it’s not clear if you might still get infected or potentially spread the virus, even if you don’t get symptoms.

Do's and Don'ts When Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine
Photo: Novant Health

Delay being vaccinated

Because you believe one vaccine is superior to another and you intend to wait for that specific vaccine. All vaccines which receive an EUA or full license from the FDA have to meet the same standards for safety and efficacy.

To extinguish widespread virus transmission in the U.S., and reduce the impact of newly circulating virus variants, we must vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Vaccine developers, and their partners, worked at unprecedented speed to make safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines available. Now it’s our turn to roll up our sleeves and help bring this pandemic to an end.

Hesitate to report side effects

Hesitate to report a vaccine reaction through the systems that the government and the vaccine sponsors have established, such as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. The reactions that people experience following vaccination may or may not be related to the vaccine, but it is still important to collect this information so it can be analyzed. Vaccine safety information will help vaccine developers and doctors provide better information to their patients.

How do I get my Covid-19 vaccination certificate?

You can download a provisional vaccination certificate after you have got the first vaccine shot, reported India Today. The certificate will contain name, date of birth, beneficiary reference ID, photo, vaccine name, hospital name, date and other details. You can download the vaccination certificate from the Co-WIN portal (cowin.gov.in) or the Aarogya Setu app.

On completion of second dose, you will receive a message for completion of vaccination schedule. The message will include a link to download digital certificate of vaccination. This certificate can also be saved in the DigiLocker mobile app, a platform to store e-copies of vital documents like driving license, Aadhaar card.

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