Six Things to Know After Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine

Healthcare News

Six Things to Know After Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19
Dr. Joseph Mosquera
By Dr. Joseph Mosquera
Mar 17, 2021 - Updated Apr 14, 2021
A man with a mask holding his COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card in one hand and giving a thumbs up with his other hand.

As of this writing, over 100 million shots of three different vaccines have been administered to Americans. And this count is growing by nearly two million each day across the country.

However, we still have a long way to go. While the United States is seeing declining trends in hospitalizations and deaths, it’s important to remember that we have billions of people on the planet. That means that we are still in the earliest stages of the global vaccination program which will ultimately lead to the recovery and eradication of this pandemic.

But do take heart, because there is something that every one of us can do to help this vaccination program to be a success. We must get our vaccines when it is our turn. This is not the time to hold out for one vaccine over another. Every vaccine being distributed in America is safe and effective, and every person vaccinated gets us one step closer to herd immunity.

Please note if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk with your physician first. Pregnant and breastfeeding women have safely received the vaccine but the risks and benefits should be taken on a case by case basis. Not all pregnancies are the same, and all underlying conditions need to be discussed with your personal physician.

That said, here is a look at six things to know after getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

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Types of Coronavirus Vaccines Available

There are currently three vaccines available in the U.S. They are made by Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. Globally, 10 different vaccines are approved. Additionally, there are nearly 300 vaccines in development with approximately 70 of those in clinical trials already.

On April 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended temporarily pausing t the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, to study rare instances of severe blood clots

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are mRNA vaccines, requiring two doses. These vaccines must be stored at sub-freezing temperatures. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is known as a viral vector vaccine. It uses the same technology that vaccines for viruses such as Ebola use and is a one-dose vaccine versus two doses.

Each vaccine uses slightly different technology, and as time passes, we will discover that some are more effective for certain populations than others. Over time the vaccines will also need to be modified as new variants emerge, and the virus evolves.

Furthermore, safety is paramount to all else, so on occasion, there may be a pause in the distribution of certain vaccines, such as the recent pause by several countries in Europe of the AstraZeneca/Oxfordvaccine, and the recent pause in the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the U.S. after reports of rare but potentially fatal blood clots in recipients. This is to ensure safety and is not altogether unexpected. Remember, although we are more than a year into the pandemic, we’ve barely begun the worldwide vaccination program.

How long does it take to build immunity after the COVID-19 vaccine?

The consensus is that after two weeks of your Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or after 2 weeks of your second Moderna or Pfizer shot, your vaccine has reached optimal effectiveness. There is some level of protection offered by all three vaccines a bit sooner, though the level of protection may vary from person to person. Two weeks after being fully vaccinated, you will have a high level of protection.

What are the most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The most common side effects of vaccines are a sore arm (pain at the injection site), fatigue, and low-grade fever. Approximately 10-15% of people will experience these side effects.

However, for individuals who already had COVID-19, and received the vaccine soon after recovery, the severity of the symptoms increases significantly.

Why is this happening?

Some individuals who are newly recovered from COVID-19 are having significant reactions to the vaccines because their immune systems recognize the protein spikes in the vaccines (which mimic those in the virus), and a strong immune response is triggered. In other words, those who are newly recovered have a very brisk immune response to the vaccines, because their immune systems just recently battled the virus.

Because these symptoms can be extremely unpleasant, waiting 90 days after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 to get your vaccine, is advisable.

Is it safe to be around my parents if they are vaccinated, but I’m not?

In some ways, it’s safer for them, than for you. If your parents have been vaccinated they should not become seriously ill or require hospitalization, should they happen to be exposed to the coronavirus. Remember, you can still get the virus after vaccination. It just won’t make you sick, and you may have no symptoms at all. But you can be an asymptomatic spreader of the virus.

For now, until you’re all vaccinated if you do decide to spend time with your parents, everyone should wear a mask and maintain six feet from each other.

Should I stop wearing a face mask after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. The vaccines do not stop you from contracting or spreading the virus. A face mask, on the other hand, may protect you from contracting and spreading the virus. Remember, the vaccines do not prevent infection. They prevent you from getting seriously ill, and/or requiring hospitalization if you do contract coronavirus. So we should all continue wearing face masks for the foreseeable future. Masks help reduce transmission, which is critical to eventually reaching herd immunity.

Do the current COVID-19 vaccines protect against other COVID-19 strains or variants?

The information we currently have is positive, in regards to the effectiveness of our current vaccines, against the known variants (dubbed the U.K., Brazilian, and South African variants). This is subject to change in the future, and we know that modifications to vaccines will need to be made as we move forward. Fortunately, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which use mRNA technology can be slightly tweaked to be effective against emerging variants in as little as 6-8 weeks.

A Word About Current and Future Variants

There are more than 5000 different coronavirus strains. These figures are normal for a new virus which undergoes mutations from host to host creating new variants in the process. So, along with the known variants circulating, we should expect more to emerge over time. This is because every person who gets infected with the coronavirus changes the virus a little bit. Your own body’s immune response to the virus alters it, as the virus seeks ways to survive.

As the world opens up and resumes normal practices variants will be transmitted from country to country. Some may be more contagious, some may affect certain communities more severely, based on immunogenetics. That’s why it is so important to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Even if the current vaccines are not perfectly effective against the variants, they will provide some level of protection and most importantly prevent hospitalizations and death.

Will I need to get the COVID-19 vaccines every year?

The current consensus in the medical community is that we will all need booster shots. It remains to be seen how often, or how many boosters we will need. But, it’s likely that for the next 2-3 years, we will need booster shots.

Coping With Fear or Distrust of Vaccines

Communities of color and inner-city populations have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Many members of under-served communities are also fearful, or distrustful of vaccines. This fear and distrust are understandable, given some of our nation’s ugliest medical experiments in the past. But, it is critically important to get your vaccine when it is your turn. COVID-19 outcomes for communities of color have been much worse than in other communities.

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Will I need to get the COVID-19 vaccines every year?

The current consensus in the medical community is that we will all need booster shots. It remains to be seen how often, or how many boosters we will need. But, it’s likely that for the next 2-3 years, we will need booster shots.

Coping With Fear or Distrust of Vaccines

Communities of color and inner-city populations have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Many members of under-served communities are also fearful, or distrustful of vaccines. This fear and distrust are understandable, given some of our nation’s ugliest medical experiments in the past. But, it is critically important to get your vaccine when it is your turn. COVID-19 outcomes for communities of color have been much worse than in other communities.

Find Out When and Where to Get Your Vaccine

By May 1, of this year, the President has encouraged every state to allow all adults to schedule their vaccine. But many people will be eligible to receive the vaccine much sooner. To find out when you are eligible, visit your state government’s website, your local department of health website, or use the helpful Plan Your Vaccine website provided by NBC News. Once you are eligible, you can visit www.vaccinefinder.org to find a location near you, where you can get your shot(s).

Dr. Joseph Mosquera

Dr. Joseph Mosquera

Dr. Joseph Mosquera has over 35 years of experience as an integrative general practitioner in Newark, NJ. Mosquera is a graduate of Rutgers Medical School (now UMDNJ). He studied neurology at George Washington University Hospital and completed his residency and training in Internal Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center. He then went on to graduate from the University of Arizona Medical School’s Program in Integrative Medicine in 2004. Dr. Mosquera is also a Harvard Medical School Fellowship graduate in Structural Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and is certified in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy. He has served as the Clinical Director of Integrative Medicine at St. Michael’s Medical Center (Newark, NJ), an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School, an Instructor at UMDNJ in “The Art of Medicine”, and a Lecturer of Integrative Medicine at both Harvard and Georgetown University Medical Schools. He has held a Board Certification in Internal Medicine since 1984 and is licensed to practice medicine in five states (NY, NJ, MA, NH, FL). Since 2003, Dr. Mosquera has been a regular Medical/Health expert and contributor to Univision, Telemundo, as well as CNN and NBC’s the “Today Show.” He has served as a Medical and Health expert for Consumer Reports Health since 2008. He is currently a medical expert for RxSaver.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.