June 24, 2021
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In the US, people are recommended not to wait for (or avoid) a specific shot. Rather, people should get vaccinated as soon as possible with whichever vaccine is available to them.
Right now, vaccines are in high demand. More doses are on the way, but it might be a while before you can secure an appointment. While you wait, there are some steps that you can take to ensure that you’re fully prepared when it’s your turn to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Here is what you should (and should not) do before, during, and after your vaccination appointment.
Before your appointment
Avoid taking steroids. Kathryn A. Boling, MD, a family medicine specialist at Mercy Medical Center, advises people to avoid taking steroids a week before vaccination. “You don’t want to start steroids the week before you’re vaccinated or immediately after you are vaccinated because steroids suppress inflammation a lot,” says Boling. “The anti-inflammatory effect could interfere with your body’s ability to mount a good reaction to the vaccine and for you to become protected.”
Boling adds that you should inform your doctor if you have an upcoming vaccine appointment or were vaccinated a week before. By having this information, they can avoid prescribing you a steroid or any medication that could suppress your immune response.
The day of our appointment
Don’t take pain relievers
Experts agree that you should not take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen right before you get your COVID shot. These medications could decrease the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug, which thwarts the vaccine’s effort to train the immune system to react to a virus by increasing inflammation. When people have side effects after the shot (such as arm pain, chills, and muscle pain) it’s because the immune system is learning to make antibodies specific to the virus or viral features.
“You don’t want to slow down or stunt that process by taking something like ibuprofen beforehand,” says Boling.
Water is not only important for everyday health, but it can help manage or even prevent any vaccine discomfort. Boling says that if you are dehydrated, you may experience dizziness and constipation which would compound any mild side effects you might have from the vaccine.
Wear proper clothing
When you go to your appointment, make sure that you’re properly dressed for the occasion. That means wearing something that gives the person giving you the shot easy access to your upper arm area.
Use your non-dominant arm for vaccination
A common side effect of any vaccination is arm pain. If given a choice, you should use your non-dominant arm for the injection because then if you feel any side-effects or discomfort from the injection, at least it wouldn’t interfere with your everyday activities.
After you get vaccinated
The aftercare for your COVID vaccine day includes more than just dealing with any mild side effects you might experience.
While you may want to commemorate your COVID shot with an alcoholic shot, Boling says that it’s better to delay the celebration by a day.
“I wouldn’t drink alcohol the very first day that you’re vaccinated only because that may interfere with your ability even to know if you have any side effects,” says Boling. “I don’t think there have been any studies that say you can’t, but I would recommend to my patients not to drink alcohol the same day they’re vaccinated.”
Use over-the-counter pain relievers if needed
Any side effects of the vaccine you might experience will be temporary; you do not need to do anything specific to treat them unless they are especially bothersome.
While you should not take a pain reliever right before you get vaccinated, if you’re feeling arm pain, soreness, or discomfort after the shot, experts say that it’s likely safe to take a Tylenol or ibuprofen. Ice packs can also help.
Keep following CDC guidelines
Vaccinated people should continue to wear masks outside and in public spaces because there is still a risk of spreading the virus to others.
Masking and social distancing are still necessary, as we don’t know for sure if you’re completely protected or if you’re just protected from symptomatic disease when you get the vaccine.
Mask-wearing and other CDC guidelines are still necessary because of the circulating COVID-19 strains. And we cannot assure that the current vaccines are effective against all variants of virus.
Additionally, people with obesity and those who are older should also continue to exercise caution after they are vaccinated. Boling says that historically, obesity and age are both factors that can make it harder for the body to mount a robust immune response and become fully immune.
Source: Very Well Health
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