Now that the general public (anyone 16 and older) can get the COVID-19 vaccine, here is information on what to expect, what you can do after you get the shot and how to manage side effects.
Before you’re vaccinated
Determine where you want to get vaccinated. NNS has compiled a list of places around Milwaukee that are providing the vaccine. Keep an eye out for special community efforts like clinics and vaccination drives.
Learn about the vaccine
Find out which vaccine is right for you. Your vaccinator should provide you with a fact sheet for the shot you are receiving.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are delivered in two shots separated by three and four weeks, respectively, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is delivered in one shot. (Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services told vaccine providers to stop administering the vaccine Tuesday after federal health agencies recommended “pausing” its use safter six people experienced a rare blood clotting disorder.)
Familiarize yourself with common side effects you may experience. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a list of possible side effects from the vaccine. It is not recommended to take medication before the vaccine to try to prevent side effects.
The most common side effects are fatigue, sore arm, headaches, muscle pain, chills and other flu-like symptoms.
Be sure to review the list of ingredients in the vaccine to make sure you are not allergic to its contents.
Ingredients are listed in the fact sheets for each vaccine.
When you get your shot
When you arrive to receive your vaccine, you’ll have to register and fill out any forms that weren’t sent to you before your appointment.
Medical staff on site will conduct a medical history to make sure that the vaccine is safe to administer. This will include questions about allergies, chronic conditions and any previous illness with COVID-19.
Dr. Allison Kos, chief medical officer for Progressive Community Health Centers, urged anyone who has questions about the vaccine to ask nursing staff during the visit. She said staff can talk through fears, questions about side effects and information about the vaccine itself.
You’ll be kept for 15 to 30 minutes after receiving your vaccine to monitor any reactions or side effects. If you have allergies, you will likely be kept for 30 minutes. If you begin feeling differently after receiving the vaccine, make sure to alert medical staff.
After you’re vaccinated
The vaccine won’t be fully effective until two weeks after your second dose (or your only dose if it’s Johnson & Johnson.)
The CDC still recommends masking and social distancing for those who have received the vaccine, particularly in public settings and around people at risk for severe illness. You should continue to avoid medium to large-sized gatherings.
Those who are fully vaccinated can:
- Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without a mask or social distancing
- Gather with unvaccinated people from one other household without a mask, unless they are at risk for illness
- Travel domestically while following guidelines
Kos said it’s really about personal protection for yourself and those who live in your household.
“Most people can relate to, ‘I finally get to go to my mom’s house’ or ‘I get to see my best friend again,’” Kos said.
After getting the shot, you may experience side effects. Kos recommends contacting your health care provider for tips on managing symptoms.
She also recommends simple methods for addressing side effects, such as staying hydrated, icing sore arms and taking Tylenol or similar over-the-counter pain relief medication unless a medical condition prevents you from doing so.
The CDC is asking those who receive the shot to sign up for v-safe, an online service that allows recipients to report side effects through their phone and provides reminders for second-dose appointments. V-safe cannot be used to schedule vaccine appointments.
To register, click here. You’ll need some basic information, including your name, mobile number and the vaccine you received.
In case you missed it: Here’s a list of places to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Milwaukee