How To Prepare For The Vaccine

Dear Rich Lifer,

It’s a new year, and the new year has apparently resulted in new opinions from Americans about the Covid-19 vaccine.

According to polls from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the amount of Americans who say they will get the vaccine as soon as possible has risen from 34% in December to 41% in January.

About 20 million Americans have been vaccinated for Covid since vaccine distribution first began in mid-December. The rollout of the vaccine was much slower than expected, but things seem to be picking up, with over a million Americans now being vaccinated every day.

So if you are one of the majority of people who is ready to roll up your sleeve to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, there are a few things you should know to prepare for getting the shot.

Read on where we get advice from doctors about what to expect from the vaccine and how to prepare for it….

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Getting the First Dose

In order to receive the first round of the vaccine, most people will sign up online for an appointment at a specific time. The aim of this was to keep wait times and crowds at a minimum; however, long lines are still forming at vaccine administration sites regardless.

If you are unsure if you are eligible to get a shot, reach out to your state or local health department. If you are unsure how to reach them, CNN has put together an incredibly helpful list of all the contact info for each department by state.

Remember, even if you have had Covid-19 already, it is still advised by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that you receive a vaccine. If you currently have Covid-19 or were recently exposed, wait until your mandatory isolation period ends before getting the vaccine.

Once you have determined you are eligible for a vaccine and schedule your shot, you should expect to arrive at your designated appointment time, at which point you will be asked to fill out consent forms before receiving the shot. You should make sure you bring a photo ID and some proof of your appointment.

Some places may require additional documents, such as employee badges for first responders to show they are eligible. You should not be asked to pay for the vaccine, so make sure you question any requests for payment.

After you receive the shot, you will be monitored for any type of adverse reaction for 15-30 minutes, after which you will be allowed to head home.

Gregory Huhn, vaccination coordinator for Cook County Health in Chicago, remarks that all monitoring will occur “within the line of sight of our nurses,” so that you can get assistance quickly if you feel unwell after the shot.

After getting the shot, you will receive a vaccination card that includes the lot number, name of the administered vaccine, and a reminder to get their second dose. You will need to bring this card to receive your second dose of the vaccine, so make sure you take good care of it or keep it in a safe place.

However, your vaccination data will also be recorded by the vaccine provider and stored electronically.

Julie Boom, co-chair of the Covid-19 Vaccine Task Force at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, says that you should expect the entire process to take about an hour.
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Things to Avoid Before and After the Shot

Before receiving the vaccine, the best thing to do is stay hydrated, especially if you tend to feel lightheaded when getting blood drawn or receiving shots. There are no specific foods or beverages to avoid.

Do, however, refrain from taking fever-reducing drugs before getting the shot. The CDC recommends waiting until after receiving the shot to take any type of antipyretics, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to combat potential discomfort from the shot.

Allergic reactions or side effects of the vaccine can happen hours after getting the shot, so continue to monitor yourself throughout the day and in the case of any serious side effects, seek professional medical help.

It’s worth noting that many people experience no side effects at all. In fact, according to research, “those over age 55 had less reactogenicity, because their immune systems aren’t as vigorous as those of younger individuals,” Dr. Huhn says.

Reactogenicity refers to the physical manifestation of the inflammatory response to vaccination and can include injection-site pain, redness, swelling at the injection site, or other effects like fever or headache.

Long story short, those over 55 will likely have fewer adverse reactions to the vaccine than young people, who have more robust immune systems!

What to Expect Between the First and Second Shot

Doctors strongly advise getting the second shot in the recommended time frame — 21 days later for Pfizer and 28 days later for Moderna — for the immune system to provide long-lasting protection.

While doctors also report there is likely some amount of protection from the first shot, the majority of participants in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials received two doses, so there isn’t enough data to say definitively how much protection or how long it lasts.

Vaccine scientist Dr. Peter Hotez remarks:

In looking at the Phase 1, Phase 2 data, what I saw with a single dose is some people had high levels of virus-neutralizing antibody, others were nonresponders. So the major reason for the second dose is to get everybody to respond. If you just get a single dose, you don’t really know where you stand.

The CDC also reminds us that it takes time for our bodies to build protection after any vaccine. Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University in New York, says, “The protective effect begins to be observed from two weeks after the second vaccine injection.”

She notes that it’s important to continue to wear a mask and social distance even after you’re completely vaccinated because neither vaccine is 100% effective. Late-stage trials showed Pfizer has 95% effectiveness while Moderna has 94.1%.

There is also continued research happening regarding the ability of vaccinated folks to pass on the virus without showing symptoms. Again, this research is ongoing so it’s too soon to know exactly what to expect after a completed vaccination.

With so much information continuing to come out about the vaccine we will keep bringing you the most up-to-date news so you can stay safe and informed.

To a Richer Life,

The Rich Life Roadmap Team

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