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The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to anyone in the community who is 16 years old and up. Many are asking what to expect when they get vaccinated. Here’s a quick overview of how to prepare and what to expect during and after your vaccine appointment.

Before You Arrive for Your Vaccine Appointment

Once you have made your appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, you can prepare the same way you would for any other vaccine. There is no need to worry about fasting or drinking water before your visit. It is recommended that you DO NOT take pain relievers BEFORE receiving your vaccine, because it may decrease its effectiveness. If you experience any pain or side effects after receiving your vaccine, you can take those medications then.

Safety for those who are receiving and giving the vaccines is a top priority. You should wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth during your entire appointment. Practice safe physical distancing at your vaccine distribution site by staying 6 feet away from others at all possible times.

Unless you require a support person for medical reasons, you should not bring any additional people to your scheduled appointment in order to make physical distancing more effective.

If you have identification, please bring it with you to help the vaccine site keep an accurate record of your visit.

 You will not need to pay for the vaccine.

During the Vaccination Process

When you arrive for your appointment, you will be greeted by a member of the vaccine team who will ask a few basic questions about you and your health. They may ask whether you have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms or if you have ever had reactions to vaccines in the past.

Once you have answered the health questions, you will receive your vaccine in whichever arm you choose. You can expect some pain where the COVID-19 vaccine is injected, but it is no worse than the pain you would typically experience with other vaccines.

After receiving the vaccine, you will be asked to wait 15 minutes before leaving the appointment so that staff can monitor for you any immediate severe side effects, which are very rare. Including this wait period, the total process should take about 20-30 minutes. But sometimes it can take longer depending on how busy the vaccine site is that day.

You will receive an immunization card after receiving your first vaccine shot. Bring the card with you when you get your second shot so that you have one complete record of your vaccination. Please keep this card in a safe place.

After Getting the Vaccine

Depending on where you receive your first shot, you will either make your second appointment immediately or you will be sent information about your second appointment soon after. Remember to bring your vaccination card to the second appointment so staff can accurately record information about your visits and you have a complete record of your vaccination.

You may experience mild side effects after receiving the vaccine, but they are not serious and should go away within a few days. Find out more information about potential side effects.

It is not yet clear how long the vaccine will provide protection against COVID-19. Even after getting your vaccine, you are asked to continue to take precautions while you are in public places by wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing. You can help stop the spread of the virus by remaining 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you, washing and sanitizing your hands frequently, and avoiding touching your face.

Once you’re fully vaccinated (2 weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or 2 weeks after the single-dose J&J vaccine), you can follow the CDC’s latest guidelines for visiting fully vaccinated people and unvaccinated people while indoors.