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Everything You Need to Know When Getting the Covid-19 Vaccine

via Roger Starnes Sr on Unsplash

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Disclaimer: All information about the Covid-19 Vaccines is according to cdc.gov. Check out their website to get more information. 


So, as of this month, everyone in the United States over the age of 16 is eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine! I am so excited that more people have access and are getting vaccinated. I am not here to convince you to get the vaccine, even though you probably should and not risk spreading a potentially deadly virus, but instead I want to help you know the differences between the vaccines if you are getting vaccinated and have a choice! 


Pfizer-BioNTech 

The Pfizer-BioNTech or Pfizer vaccine is a shot you get twice in the muscle of your upper arm. You will receive the shots 3 weeks or 21 days apart and you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your second shot. Individuals 16 and older can receive this vaccine, however, it is recommended you do not receive it if you’ve had a past allergic reaction to any of the ingredients or have an allergic reaction after you’ve been administered your first dose. There are also side effects to be aware of when you get the Pfizer vaccine. Possible side effects in the arm where you get the shot include pain, redness, and swelling. Other side effects include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, and a fever. Based on evidence from clinical trials, the vaccine was “95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of a previous infection.”


Moderna 

The Moderna Vaccine, like the Pfizer, is given in two shots in the muscle of the upper arm. However, unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the shots are given 4 weeks or 28 days apart and you must be 18 or older to get it. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting your second shots and, just like the Pfizer vaccine, you will want to be careful of any allergic reactions. The location where you get your vaccine will most likely make you wait 15 minutes before leaving to check for any immediate allergic reactions. The possible side effects are the same as the Pfizer vaccine and based on evidence from clinical trials, “the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected.”


Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen

The Johnson & Johnson’s Jassen or J&J vaccine is different from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as it is only one shot. It is also given in the muscle of the upper of the arm and, like the Moderna Vaccine, is only available to those who are 18 and older. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your shot and like the other two, if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, it is recommended you do not receive it. The J&J vaccine also has the same possible side effects as the other two vaccines such as muscle soreness, nausea, fever, etc. According to clinical trials, “the J&J/Janssen vaccine was 66.3% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who had no evidence of prior infection 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine. People had the most protection 2 weeks after getting vaccinated.” The J&J is also reported as having high efficiency at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick. 


So, those are the different types of vaccines you can receive for the Covid-19 virus. You may know that recently the J&J vaccine was not being administered for a short period of time. Its use was paused due to an increased risk of a rare adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Reports of TTS have nearly all been in adult women younger than 50 and involve blood clots with low platelets. However, since the J&J vaccine’s known & possible benefits outweigh its possible risk, it is still being used. Additionally, the chances of developing this condition are 7 in 1 million for vaccinated women. The CDC’s recommended use of the vaccines resumed at the end of April, but there is a warning for women under 50 to be aware of the risk when receiving this vaccine. For three weeks after receiving the vaccine, the CDC advises you to be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot which include chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain and easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site. 


Okay so, you’ve got the vaccine and celebrated being vaccinated but now what? Side effects. The side effects of the vaccine if you experience them are not fun. From my family and mine’s experience, both shots of the two-dose vaccines -- and the shot of J&J -- result in a sore arm. However, after the second shot or after getting the single shot J&J, we all felt horrible the next day. This ranges from person to person but my mom was unable to move her arm and so was I. She also developed a fever and, even though I did not get a fever, I was very nauseous and unable to get out of bed the day after I was vaccinated. So, even if you think you may not see any side effects, here are some tips for easing the aftermath of your vaccination. 


Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and if you are experiencing serious side effects I suggest contacting a medical professional. 


1. Don’t plan anything for the next day

Keep your schedule as clear as possible after getting vaccinated. Because you might feel either sick, really sore, or both, it’s just best to save yourself the pain or trouble of having to cancel a lunch date or call out of work. Trust me. As somebody who was fortunate to not have work the next day, I was grateful for just having the day to rest and not have to worry about any other obligations. 


2. Move your arm after getting the shot 

This is one you might have heard a lot and it is something that I definitely heard when getting vaccinated. Because the shot goes into the muscle of your upper arm, that arm is likely to be sore after getting your shot. Really sore. I don’t know how medically sound this advice is but it doesn’t hurt to try it. When you are waiting the 15 minutes after getting your shot, or even if for some reason you don’t have to wait, move your arm around. Flap your arms like chicken wings or do some arm circles to prevent soreness. 


3. Be prepared with supplies

One of the worst things, when you aren’t feeling well, is when you have no sick supplies in your house. Even if you aren’t expecting it, you should always be stocked up with things like medicine, a thermometer, and some easy-to-handle food for your belly. So, on the off chances you feel nauseated the entire day or get a fever, make sure you have the necessary tools to take care of yourself.



4. Take a bath 

Another tip for reducing soreness is taking a bath. This trick has been tried and true since my days of playing for my recreational softball as a child and I am sure it is a staple in other families as well. Taking a bath will relax your muscles and for an extra kick, throw in some Epsom salt to really alleviate that soreness. 


5. Stay Hydrated

Since one of the side effects is a possible fever, it is important to stay hydrated. We all know, when we get sick that is one of the first things a doctor will say to us is to stay hydrated and the same holds true in this case as well. Getting sick means we want nothing more than to just lie in bed all day and not move but keep your water bottle deck to keep your body nourished. 


You can also find more tips from the CDC here. 

Featured Image via Hakan Nural

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