More than 700,000 people in Indiana have gotten at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Doctors say there are things you should and should not do before and after you get the shot. Doctors with Beacon Health System explain those in this Eye on Health report.
DO get your vaccine when it’s your turn.
Dr. Dale Patterson, Memorial Hospital Vice President of Medical Affairs, says, “We really want to encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible to sign up and get their shot. That’s the best way we can keep from spreading the virus throughout our community.” He says, “It is going to take some time, but we will get vaccines for everyone. But we do want to follow the priorities so the people who are most likely to end up in the hospital or die from COVID have the opportunity to get their shots before people who are less likely to have those complications.”
DO be patient when trying to register.
Dr. Patterson explains, “Registration has been difficult and it’s getting better, but we’re asking people to be patient and try again if you can’t get in right away when you’re eligible. Log onto the state’s website and be patient and try to go through that process. If there isn’t anything available when you first login, try later that day or the next day. They’re working through it and more appointments are becoming available every day. As more vaccine becomes available, it’ll be easier logging on and getting an appointment.”
DO mention your allergies.
Dr. Michelle Bache, Elkhart General Vice President of Medical Affairs says, “There is a small subset of patients who have had a significant allergic reaction to the vaccine. We haven’t seen that locally, but worldwide there have been a few instances of that. So, if you’re someone who has had an anaphylactic reaction in the past – we would want to know about it.”
DO get vaccinated even if you have had COVID.
Dr. Bache says, “That’s because we’re not really sure how long immunity from infection lasts. We think it provides some protection for up to 90 days, but beyond that, it’s not really clear. So, we want to make sure everybody has some sustained immunity.”
DO stick to the schedule for your second dose.
“There is a little bit of wiggle room there, but really the guideline is if you received the Pfizer vaccine, it should be given in 21 days plus or minus a couple days, and then for the Moderna it’s 28. If you absolutely can’t make that and it has to be pushed out because of weather or travel or something like that, it’s okay. You should still absolutely get the vaccine, but it’s best if you do it within the recommended time frame, says Dr. Bache. She adds, “The boost that you get from the second vaccine is really significant. So yes, while one vaccine will provide some immunity, you really do get a significant boost from the second dose.”
DO NOT get the shot if you currently have COVID or are waiting for test results.
Dr. Patterson explains, “A couple reasons we do that is one – you don’t want to get other people sick if you have COVID. You don’t want to show up at a vaccination site and get other people sick. And you also don’t want to get an immunization when you’re sick yourself. It’s just not a good time to get immunized, and if you have a fever and you show up, you won’t be able to get vaccinated.”
DO NOT get vaccinated if you have had the flu shot, or any other shot in the past two weeks.
“We don’t know that if you get a different vaccine and your immune system is already working, and then you get the COVID vaccine, it may not work as well, and you may not get the same effect. So, just to be safe and make sure we’re getting the full effect of the COVID vaccine, we want to split the timing and not do anything else within two weeks,” says Dr. Patterson.
DO NOT take painkillers before your second dose, take it after your vaccine.
Dr. Bache says, “The painkillers like Tylenol and ibuprofen – they sometimes can decrease the immune response somewhat. So, before you get the vaccine, we recommend that you not take those. Afterwards, especially if you’re pregnant or develop a fever after the second shot, it’s absolutely appropriate to take some Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain.”
DO NOT believe all you hear about or read in social media. Misinformation is everywhere. The most reliable sources include the CDC and state and local Departments of Health.
Dr. Patterson, “There are a lot of things that have absolutely no evidence and no truth to them. There’s no evidence the vaccine causes infertility. There’s no evidence it causes a lot of the long-term side effects that people are claiming. We do know it causes sore arms. It causes some fatigue, some muscle aches for some people a day or two after. There is the allergic reactions that are potential, but we now know that’s even a smaller risk than what we thought it was when it started.” He explains further, “With the millions of people that have been vaccinated, we’ve had less than 100 people in the country that have had a severe allergic reaction. So, we know that this is a very safe vaccine. We do want people to pay attention to side effects and, as we discussed, taking medication if they don’t feel well. But don’t let social media scare you away from getting the vaccine. The risk of getting the disease is much higher than the risk of getting the vaccine.”
AND A FINAL REMINDER: DO keep wearing your face mask, social distancing, avoiding crowds and practicing good hand hygiene.
Dr. Bache says, “We are confident that the vaccine does help prevent infection. It’s not 100% but it’s good – it’s 95%. But there are still 5% of people that, despite having the vaccine, may go on to get the infection. We also don’t know – just because you clinically don’t become infected yourself – could you be carrying the virus and shed it to other people.”
She further explains, “Hopefully the shot is going to allow us to do some more things safely. It’s not going to allow us to get rid of our masks unfortunately. We have a long way to go before we reach the herd immunity we’re all looking for. We need 70% of the population to either have some sort of immunity through infection or immunization, and we’re a long way from that. So, it’s going to require all of the tools in our toolbox to beat this pandemic – immunization, masking, and social distancing, and hygiene, limited gatherings – all of those things are going to continue to be important through much of 2021.”