My Experience with the COVID-19 Vaccine
A couple of months ago, we finally received the announcement that healthcare workers were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It was a mad rush to get an appointment scheduled before they were all taken, and you had to wait. I did not know where to go, how to sign up, or who to talk to. It took me some significant stumbling through different web pages to even find what I was looking for. Thankfully, someone sent me to a specific government agency website that would help set me up with a hospital to get my first shot. The only appointment I could find took 30-minutes to get to, but with the difficulty I already had with scheduling, I seized the opportunity. At the time, the internet was about your only option for signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine. Scheduling may be easier by now, and it still requires the internet.
Advice for Getting an Appointment:
- Talk to your doctor to see if getting the vaccine is right for you. They may even have advice on where to find a vaccine.
- Ask for help from a friend or family member if you are struggling with navigating the process.
- Join a wait list if you can’t find an appointment. If someone does not show up to their appointment that day, they may call you for a drop-in, so they do not waste the dose.
- Hospitals are not the only resource for vaccines. More and more pharmacies, including ones at grocery stores, are receiving their supply of the vaccine and scheduling appointments.
Once I made it to my appointment, there were signs everywhere with where to go, where to park, and who was allowed where. This may not be the experience everywhere, and it showed how organized this location was. There was a specific part of the hospital that they had designated for their vaccine clinic. I entered and immediately received a temperature check and an additional mask as they were requiring us to wear surgical masks instead of cloth masks. Then I got in line at the check-in. At the first appointment, there is paperwork to fill out, which took me about 10 minutes to make sure I knew what I was signing. Then I went into a room full of chairs and two stations with nurses. It was a quick wait-time, and I was in the chair rolling up my left sleeve. I closed my eyes and didn’t feel a thing. She was very good at her job. My next step was to move to the bank of chairs for my 15-minute required wait time. They do this to ensure you don’t have any immediate adverse reactions, or if you do, they are there to help you. During my 15-minute wait, I signed up for the CDC symptom tracking program and signed up for my next vaccine. They had specific dates that were available for me to choose from to optimize my immunity window. After the 15-minutes was up, I was out the door and on my way home.
First appointment advice:
- Bring a government issued ID
- Arrive early
- Be prepared to wait
- Drink plenty of water before and after
- Wear a short-sleeve shirt
- If you are afraid of needles or squeamish, let the nurse or doctor administering the vaccine know. They will guide you through the process to make it easy.
- If you can’t sign up for your second appointment after you get your first dose, make sure you know the target dates for your second appointment.
After I got home, I was on high alert for any reactions that might have occurred from the vaccine. At most, I was very sore for several days. Supporting my immune system was my focus during this time. I drank extra water, ate veggies that were the colors of the rainbow, and avoided alcohol and dessert. I also took a break from lifting weights because my arm was sore enough that I did not want to make it worse. Instead, I went on walks in order to keep my blood flowing. After the second dose, my arm was again sore, and I also had mild-to-moderate fatigue with chills. The additional reactions went away in approximately 6 hours and all it left me with was a sore arm.
Vaccine Reaction Advice:
- Support your immune system. It is doing a lot of work! Check with your provider about supplementing with vitamin D and C.
- Allow yourself to rest and recuperate as needed.
- Communicate with your family, friends, and coworkers that you may be less peppy than usual.
- Be aware of the possible reactions and prepared with anything you need to mitigate them, but don’t be afraid of them.
- If you have a concern about a reaction, call the location you received your vaccine or your physician.
- If you have a reaction that becomes an emergency call 911 immediately.
Now here I am, fully vaccinated and ready for this pandemic to be over. Together we can protect each other, end this, and move forward.