How to make the vaccination process as effective as possible

Americans could soon have access to a third coronavirus vaccine
There are some things you should know before you get your COVID-19 vaccination.
Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 1:53 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Wednesday, Food and Drug Administration scientists confirmed that overall the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe cases of the virus, and about 85% effective against the most serious illness. The agency believes the J&J shot is safe, and working to determine if it can be granted emergency use authorization.

If the FDA gives its final approval, more Americans will be able to sign up for a vaccination. It comes as Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announces Phase 1C to begin at regional vaccine centers on March 1.

Since more people will be able to sign up, Baptist Health released some tips to make the process as effective as possible.

Before Your Vaccination

  • Don’t premedicate: Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen before your vaccination could lessen your immune response. Most people have not reported any of the common side effects—such as chills, aches, fever and nausea—until six hours after injection. Wait until you need it to take a pain reliever.
  • Do eat and drink as normal: Fasting can make you feel woozy or lightheaded, and could lead to passing out, but a heavy meal immediately before your appointment could cause issues if you have a serious reaction and need medical treatment. Don’t plan to eat after your vaccination until you have left the clinic.
  • Don’t wear a long-sleeved shirt: You will get the shot in your upper arm, so make sure your vaccinator can easily get to the vaccination site. If you’re cold, you could wear a removable sweater or jacket on over of a sleeveless or short-sleeved shirt.
  • Do reschedule if you’re sick: If you have fever, vomiting diarrhea or are quarantining from COVID-19 or another illness, you will want to reschedule your vaccination for your own protection and the protection of others in the vaccine clinic.

During Your Appointment

  • Do Talk to Your Vaccinator: The person administering your vaccine needs to know if you have had a serious reaction to a vaccine or injection in the past. In some cases, you might be asked to wait longer in the clinic following your shot. Your vaccinator can also help if you’re on blood thinners, afraid of needles or just don’t like shots.
  • Do sit and relax: Your injection site will be sorer if your muscles are tense during the shot. Sitting helps with this and can prevent a fall should you get dizzy.
  • Don’t massage the injection site: Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are delicate. While you may have been encouraged to massage your arms following other vaccinations, studies have not been done on the effect on these vaccines. You could wave or move your arm after the shot, but don’t worry—the vaccine will get where it needs to be on its own.
  • Don’t leave after your vaccination: You will want to wait at least 15 minutes after your shot to allow the clinic staff to watch for any signs that you might need medical treatment. If you’re feeling dizzy, lightheaded, sweating, weak or nauseated let the staff know. Those are signs you might pass out. Itching, redness or hives, swelling of lips, face or throat (although rare) are among the signs that you might need medical treatment.

After Your Shot

  • Do follow up with your second dose: Both Pfizer and Moderna require a second shot for your body to develop the antibodies you need. Additionally, these vaccines are time-sensitive and drawn up for each appointment, so if you skip your booster appointment you are potentially wasting a dose of vaccine.
  • Don’t fear side effects: You may develop aches, fever or nausea several hours after your shot, particularly your second dose. While uncomfortable, these reactions show your body is going to work as it should. Don’t worry if you have no side effects, either. If you received both shots, you have received adequate protection.
  • Do continue to wear your mask: It will take several weeks after both doses for your immune system to build maximum protection. Studies have not yet been done to determine if you can pass the virus asymptomatically after your vaccination. Wearing facial coverings, social distancing and sanitizing are still important ways to keep yourself and others safe from the virus.
  • Do hold off on other vaccines: Out of abundance of caution, it is best to wait 14 days before scheduling other vaccinations, as studies have not been done on potential interactions.

If you have any specific medical concerns or allergies to vaccine components, your primary care provider can help determine the best guidance for your situation.

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