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July 30 2021

COVID-19 Vaccination Guide: What to Do Before, During, and After

In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, researchers have developed a number of vaccines to aid in preventing the spread of the virus. The distribution and administration of these vaccines have reached impressive numbers, with over 3.04 billion doses already given worldwide.
However, vaccination programs vastly differ per country—some reaching ideal immunization levels, while others are struggling to distribute vaccines effectively.
With COVID-19 and its variants threatening the health and safety of many and herd immunity still a long way to go, getting vaccinated as soon as possible is essential. Knowing what to do before, during, and after vaccination can help achieve the best results possible.
The infographic below will provide a detailed guide on how to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccination.


Before Receiving the Vaccine

  • Seek medical clearance for certain health conditions

People with chronic health conditions and other health concerns may need documented approval or clearance from a medical professional before receiving the vaccine. This is to ensure that there are no contraindications to getting the vaccine.
Per Department of Health (DOH), the following should seek clearance from their doctors:
  • people with autoimmune diseases
  • those with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • patients who have undergone transplants
  • cancer patients currently undergoing chemo, radio, or immunotherapy
  • persons currently on steroid medications
  • bedridden individuals
  • people in a vegetative state
  • those who have a poor prognosis with a life expectancy of 6 months or less
Individuals with allergies to food and medication or other underlying medical conditions should also consult with a healthcare professional before getting vaccinated.
  • Learn more about the vaccines and their side effects

With the number of vaccines being approved for use in current immunization drives, having a basic understanding can help allay any concerns or fears of being vaccinated.
There are several credible online resources available that discuss the different vaccines—how they work, how effective they are, the possible side effects they can cause, and so on. Having this information can help with anticipating any adverse reactions for whichever vaccine will be administered.
  • Research and register for local vaccination programs

Check government websites and credible news sources for lists of available local vaccination programs to register in.
Requirements for registration will differ from program to program. Other factors that may affect the vaccination schedule include vaccine availability and qualifications for the various priority groups. Ensure that these requirements are fulfilled to secure a schedule.
  • Get plenty of rest, eat well, and hydrate

The COVID-19 vaccine works by allowing the body to respond by building a certain level of immunity to the virus. This process will require the body to be in good physical condition to trigger a strong immune system response.
The night before the appointment, get adequate rest and drink plenty of water. Should the scheduled vaccination appointment fall during mealtime, make sure to eat before heading to the venue to get vaccinated.
  • Prepare the requirements

Generally, some requirements need to be prepared before the vaccination appointment. These will include personal protective equipment like a face mask and face shield, hand sanitizer or alcohol, a ballpen, valid ID, and proof of scheduled appointment (such as a confirmation text, email, or QR code).
Persons with comorbidities may need to bring proof of their health condition. They may present a medical certificate, prescription for medicines, hospital records such as the discharge summary or medical abstract, surgical records, and pathology reports or lab results. Certain medical conditions will need either hard copy or electronic medical clearance from their doctors.
  • Ensure that there are no conflicts with the vaccination appointment

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is critical for building protective immunity against the virus, so securing an appointment should be a top priority.
If necessary, take a leave of absence from work or delay any commitments that may conflict with the scheduled appointment. It is also recommended to have a clear schedule for the following day if side effects manifest.

During Vaccination

  • Know where the designated vaccine area is

Take note of the location where the scheduled vaccination appointment will take place. If the area is far or unfamiliar, consider planning out a route to avoid any delays. Different vaccine sites may also have different queueing procedures. Check online resources for the proper protocol to observe to save time and effort on the day itself.
  • Wear proper vaccination-friendly clothing

The COVID-19 vaccine is administered into the muscle of the upper arm. Clothes that provide easy access to the upper arm muscle, such as short-sleeved, loose, or sleeveless shirts, will make it easier for the health worker to inject the vaccine.
  • Bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is not only vital for everyday health, but it can also help lessen or prevent discomfort from the vaccine's possible side effects. Having a bottle of water on hand makes it easier to keep hydration up while waiting for the vaccine to be administered. Conversely, dehydration can cause dizziness and constipation—symptoms that can worsen side effects.

  • Accept whichever vaccine is available

COVID-19 vaccination is a top priority globally as this has been proven to lessen the severity of the virus's symptoms and prevent death. Currently, all vaccines being administered are FDA-approved and have undergone all the required testing to prove their safety and effectiveness.
The severity of the current pandemic makes vaccination critical to achieve herd immunity. It is imperative to accept whichever vaccine is available.
  • Opt for a non-dominant arm injection

Pain and swelling in the injection site are the most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. This may interfere with daily activities or tasks using the affected arm. If possible, opt for a non-dominant arm injection so that, in case of side effects, there will be less disruption to routines and other activities.
  • Avoid taking pain relievers on the day of the vaccination

While it can be daunting to expect side effects from the vaccine, it is not recommended to take over-the-counter pain relievers to prevent them. Pain relievers like ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen may affect the body's ability to develop an immune response to the virus.

After Vaccination

  • Remain at the vaccination site for observation

After receiving the vaccine, stay at the vaccination site for around 15–30 minutes or as recommended by the healthcare workers at the site. Health workers will monitor any reaction to the vaccine and provide first aid in case of severe side effects.
According to the DOH, severe side effects that occur very rarely may include itching, fainting, vomiting, difficulty breathing, wheezing, swelling of the face, and tightening of the throat. If any of these or other unusual symptoms occur, notify a health worker immediately.
  • Expect side effects

Like other vaccines, side effects can manifest. Should they occur, make sure to take note of them. This record will be useful for future health concerns and help set expectations for side effects during the second dose.
The DOH has listed the following as possible side effects after receiving the vaccine: irritation on the injected arm (such as tenderness, pain, warmth, redness, itching, or swelling), fatigue and tiredness, chills or feeling feverish, headaches, joint pain or muscle ache, and a general feeling of unwellness.
  • Continue healthy habits and personal care

Regardless if side effects occur or not, maintaining one's health is still important. Not only does this support the body while it works to build immunity, but it also helps avoid other illnesses or infections.
Eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and drinking the right amount of water aid the body in maintaining its condition. Getting enough sleep and practicing good hygiene can also strengthen the immune system even after the vaccine.
  • Avoid alcohol or tobacco consumption

Following the COVID-19 vaccination, it is advisable to stay away from alcohol or tobacco because it can lower the body's immune response and possibly interfere with the vaccine's effectiveness. Additionally, alcohol consumption may lead to dehydration and put the body under more stress.
  • Prepare for the second vaccination appointment

Most available COVID-19 vaccines will require a second dose to be fully effective. The second dose is typically administered anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks after the first dose. This schedule is usually given during the first vaccination appointment. Make sure to take note of this date.
Preparation for the second appointment includes maintaining records of any side effects experienced from the first dose and ensuring that the assigned schedule is free of any conflicting events or other appointments.
  • Stay protected by following current health protocols

Any of the COVID-19 vaccines protect against symptomatic and moderate to severe forms of the virus and, most importantly, death. However, it is still possible to contract the disease even after vaccination.
Following the current health protocols like using a mask and face shield, regularly washing or sanitizing hands, avoiding crowded places, maintaining one-meter physical distancing, and ensuring good ventilation at home or work can prevent the spread of the virus.

Don't Hesitate, Get Vaccinated

In the face of the current global health crisis, countries are racing to control and suppress the spread of the virus and its various mutations. Each qualified person can do their part in putting a stop to the COVID-19 pandemic by getting vaccinated. Not only does it protect the person receiving it, but also the people around them—bringing the world closer to herd immunity.
Reach out to Makati Medical Center for world-class healthcare services and the proper diagnosis, treatment, or management of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.