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Nearly 130 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the US with millions of more Americans receiving a dose each day. The highly coveted vaccine understandably comes with a lot of questions. Here are four things that you should know about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Understanding the Differences Between the Shots
As of the middle of March, there are three vaccines that have been approved for use in the US. The first vaccine to receive approval was the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Shortly after this approval in December of 2020, the Moderna vaccine was approved for use in Americans. At the end of February, the Johnson & Johnson version became the third vaccine to be approved in the country.
While the vaccines are roughly the same when it comes to effectiveness in preventing serious illness or death, there is one major difference between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the other two. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is only one dose while the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is administered in two separate doses.
While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine demonstrated a slightly less level of efficacy in preventing the virus, it should be noted that it was the only shot of the three that has been tested against the newly emerging variants. Those who receive the first dose of the Moderna vaccine should receive the second shot roughly 28 days later. Conversely, those receiving the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are recommended to get the second dose at the 21-day mark.
Health officials caution people that they should not get hung up on the differences between the three vaccines. It is most important to simply accept the first vaccine that is available to you. Because the differences are negligible, it is most crucial to be protected in whatever way that you can.
Where You Can Receive Your Vaccine
There are a number of places that you can get your vaccine. During the early days of the rollout, most vaccines were only available through a private healthcare provider. However, as the distribution has continued to ramp up exponentially, there are more options than ever before.
Pharmacies are some of the leading providers of the vaccine. This is a good choice because the pharmacy technician immunization training will give you confidence in the distribution process of the vaccine. Many localities have also set up mass vaccination clinics designed to get people in and out quickly. Some of these mass vaccination sites will also allow you to volunteer in exchange for getting your shot prior to your phase opening up.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
Depending on what type of venue that you go to for your shot, you may either get the shot from your vehicle or you may be expected to enter a physical waiting area. You will be expected to wear your mask and practice recommended social distancing protocols throughout the entirety of your appointment.
If you are getting one of the two-dose vaccines, be sure to ask the provider how to best schedule your second appointment. Some clinics will automatically schedule you for the second dose when you receive the first while others will ask you to make an appointment on your own later.
Because of the remote possibility of an adverse reaction to the shot, most places will monitor you for at least 15 minutes after the shot before releasing you to leave. You will also receive an official copy of your vaccination card after receiving your immunization. Be sure to keep this in a safe place.
Potential Side Effects
While serious reactions to the shot are extremely rare, many people report a variety of mild to moderate side effects. For most individuals, these side effects are more pronounced after the second dose of the shot.
Some of the most common side effects include mild pain at the site of injection, fatigue, fever, headache, and nausea. Most people report that the side effects kick in a few hours after the shot. The effects have usually waned within 24-48 hours after receiving the vaccine.
All of this information should give you peace of mind as you head off to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Understanding more about the great safety and effectiveness of this vaccine should reassure you about the overall process.