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What to expect when getting a COVID-19 vaccine

Last Modified: February 02, 2021

Family Medicine

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to more individuals, we continue to get questions regarding the process. Michelle Collins-Austin, MD, PPG – Family Medicine, walks us through the vaccination, from check in to observation.

 You will need to wear a mask when you come to receive your vaccination. Social distancing is practiced throughout the facility and we use all available tools and methods to stop the spread of the virus. If you need assistance walking, pushing your wheelchair or checking in, you can bring someone with you.

You will receive the vaccine in the upper aspect of the arm of your choice. You can anticipate mild tenderness and swelling after receiving the vaccine. To minimize the side effects of localized pain and swelling, apply cool compresses 2-3 times a day. Use the arm frequently throughout the day and exercise, as tolerated, to allow the vaccine to continue to move throughout the muscles. After 24-48 hours, you should only experience minimal discomfort at the injection site.

COVID vaccine

The available COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines, so they do not contain live virus, therefore you cannot get COVID-19 from receiving the vaccine.

You may experience fever, chills, fatigue or headache. You can manage these mild side effects with rest, hydrating with water and using over-the-counter pain medication, as needed to reduce discomfort.

Your risk of allergic reaction depends on whether or not you’ve had a previous reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine. We monitor patients for 15 minutes after they receive the vaccine. You should seek medical attention if redness or tenderness increases after 24 hours, or if you have side effects that are concerning to you or that last longer than three days.

If you have a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC does not recommend getting the second dose. Consult your healthcare provider with questions.

After receiving the vaccine, you are clear to go about your normal activity, but use caution for the first 1-2 days. Following immunization, it’s important that you continue to use all tools available to stop the spread of the virus, including hand washing, avoiding large crowds, mask wearing and social distancing.

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