Preparing for Your COVID-19 Vaccine

In Michigan and around the world, people have been getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, signaling the beginning of the end of this pandemic.

Before getting vaccinated, there are things you can do to prepare. Nasir Husain, M.D., director of infection prevention at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, shares these tips.

Before your appointment, learn about the vaccine.

Read up (from reputable sources) about the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and health care systems are great places to get the facts.

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and 95 percent effective. It does not contain live virus so it cannot give you COVID-19. Rather, it contains messenger RNA (mRNA) from the genetic code of COVID-19’s spike protein. Our bodies make this protein, which then prompts our immune system to make protective antibody proteins, protecting us from COVID-19 infection. mRNA degrades rapidly and never gets near human DNA.

Eat beforehand and arrive well-rested.

Get a good night’s sleep before your appointment—it will help your immune system work to its fullest potential. Don’t arrive hungry or thirsty.

With two vaccine already available and more being approved soon, it’s important to know which vaccine you’re getting and if you need a second dose and the timeframe to get that.

Receiving both vaccinations is important to ensure full protection. At your first appointment, you may be asked to make an appointment for your second vaccination. Make sure it is a day that works for your schedule, as it’s important not to cancel.

Monitor your side effects.

After the shot, you’ll be asked to wait for 15 minutes to monitor for any allergic reaction, which is rare, but possible. You may experience side effects like injection site pain, body aches, chills and a headache, but they should go away after 24 to 48 hours. These side effects don’t mean you have an infection or are contagious. They show your body’s immune system is responding to the vaccine. You can take acetaminophen (like Tylenol) to ease symptoms, but do not take it before your vaccination. Take Tylenol only if you have side effects. Avoid NSAIDS (like Motrin or Advil), as they may blunt the immune response.

Keep your vaccine record card.

At your appointment, you will receive a vaccination card. Keep this card with you—or take a picture of it—so you don’t forget when you were vaccinated and the type of vaccine you received. Bring the card to your second-dose appointment. This card may also be important in the future to show before going into public places, such as before getting on an airplane.

Continue to follow CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19

After your first vaccination, you are still susceptible to contracting COVID-19. It will take about two weeks after your second vaccination to build full immunity.

“The vaccine is 95 percent effective, but there’s still a five percent chance you could get it, so it’s very important to continue masking, social distancing and practicing hand hygiene,” said Dr. Husain.

When a large portion of the population has been vaccinated, we will be able to go back to life the way it was. “Getting vaccinated is vitally important to protect you, your family and the community,” says Dr. Husain. “The sooner most of us are vaccinated, the sooner this pandemic will be resolved.”

For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine, visit

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