Vaccination can be scary for some people, but it is a potent tool to help us fight COVID-19 infection effectively and end the pandemic.
By now, several people across the globe have got their first COVID-19 shot. You may have come across their pictures on various social media with the COVID-19 vaccination cards. Have those posts excited you and caused you to wait for your turn even more, or are you still ill at ease as you don’t know what to expect?
Well, most of your worries about whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine can be easily put at ease by spending time researching online and talking to others about their experiences.
Keep reading this blog if you really wish to know how you can prepare yourself for the COVID-19 vaccination and what outcomes to expect.
How Should You Prepare Yourself for The COVID-19 Shot?
Are you thinking of taking any painkillers or any other medication before your vaccination? Do you need to pre-medicate yourself to avoid any allergic reactions, fevers, or chills?
The simple answer to this question is – No. COVID-19 vaccine is no different than any other vaccine. You don’t need to do anything to prepare yourself to manage side effects. Rather, you would track them after getting vaccinated.
In advance, you can do one thing. Just talk to your healthcare provider about any possible allergies or interactions.
If you’re about to get your first dose, there’s nothing that you need to do beforehand. However, there are certain precautions that you should take with any injection, including the COVID-19 vaccine. For instance, if you are taking any blood thinner, inform your doctor that you are getting an injection and do everything necessary to avoid extra bleeding from the injection.
In general, review your health condition and medications with your primary care provider and ensure they are not going to tamper with your ability to get an injection.
What Happens When You Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?
By far, three COVID-19 vaccines are authorized in the United States: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have high safety and efficacy and are considered no less than scientific achievement. But many people still wonder what exactly they did to combat COVID-19. To clear this ambiguity, let us discuss what happens after the COVID-19 shot gets injected into your arm.
1 minute after COVID-19 Vaccination
Pick an arm, roll up your sleeve, and answer a few questions – and congrats, the shot goes in! You’ve got your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. So, what happens soon after the vaccination?
Apart from sugar, salt, and fat coating, the most important ingredient in the vaccine is the mRNA, which is a small instruction manual for your cells for use to make the spike protein of the SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19 virus). Studies reveal that the coronavirus makes use of its spike protein to connect to molecules called ACE2 receptors on the exterior of the cells to get inside.
Once it enters the cell, mRNA from the vaccine is absorbed by your ribosomes and forms several copies of the spike protein. The mRNA is then decomposed, and the newly produced spike protein is released from the cell.
15 minutes after COVID-19 Vaccination
After the shot, most people will be requested to sit and wait for a 15 minutes observation period to watch for any allergic reactions. If you have a history of serious allergic reactions, you may be asked to sit for even longer (around 30 minutes)—the reactions of the COVID-19 vaccine range from hives to anaphylactic shots. The mild reaction is quickly treated with Benadryl, and for the serious ones (such as anaphylaxis), Epinephrine is used.
12 hours to 10 days later after COVID-19 Vaccination
You may feel soreness in your arm or too fatigued after the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Why so? It’s because your immune system is preparing itself. After your cells utilize the mRNA to create the spike protein, immune messenger cells (dendritic cells) get into the play.
These cells make rounds and come into contact with the antigen in your body that they have never witnessed before. They raise the alarm, move to the lymph node, find the right B and T cells and activate them.
Soreness and fatigue are due to the substances called cytokines and chemokines that help navigate more immune cells to the infected site, leading to an inflammatory response. Some people can also have swelling in their lymph nodes in their armpit after getting vaccinated.
This happens because your immune system is unable to spot the difference between just a spike protein and the actual virus. Feeling a bit run down is pretty normal and indicates that your immune system is working. However, if you neither experience soreness nor feel tired, please do not worry. Not everyone experiences these effects.
3-4 weeks after COVID-19 Vaccination
Both the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines require two doses: three weeks later for Pfizer BioNtech and four weeks later for Moderna. During the period between the two doses, your B cells will generate good plasma cells and neutralizing bodies.
The neutralizing bodies keep the novel coronavirus from entering into your cells and making you sick. However, these effects can relatively be transient, and hence there is the need for a second dose, which can generate a longer immune response to the spike protein.
Several people have reported a much stronger reaction to the second dose, including muscle aches, fever, and fatigue.
Please don’t get easily enticed to avoid the second dose to prevent the potential side effects. The risk of not getting the second dose is that you would have short-term defensive antibodies from plasma cells but no long-term memory cells. With time, you could have no protection at all against the COVID-19 virus.
Moreover, the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are temporary and insignificant as compared to the potentially serious and life-threatening health effects of COVID-19.
Six weeks after COVID-19 Vaccination
The current COVID-19 mRNA vaccines were found to be 95% effective against the disease at clinical trials two weeks after the second dose.
The question arises here is that if you have already got infected with the COVID-19 virus, should you still take the vaccine? The answer to this question is “Yes.”
The natural infection with the virus might generate an immune response to numerous proteins inside and outside of the virus – however, they aren’t any good because they fail to obstruct the skin protein from ACE2. This is the prominent reason why people who have already been infected with the COVID-19 virus still need to get the vaccine.
Even if you have survived the disease, you don’t know if you have a lot of irrelevant antibodies or good neutralizing antibodies.
Potential Side Effects Of COVID-19 Vaccines
Soreness in the arm is pretty common, and the soreness comes from the needle and not the vaccine. It should go away within 1-2 days. The potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, as reported by many people, include headaches, fatigue, mild fever, and muscle aches.
These side effects are a little bothersome, but as discussed earlier in this post, it indicates that your immune system is working. It specifies that your immune system is activated and is creating antibodies.
According to CDC, the following are the common side effects of COVID-19 vaccination:
On the arm:
Throughout the rest of your body:
For pain and discomfort, consult your healthcare provider and ask about any over-the-counter treatment alternatives. Kindly make a visit to your nearby healthcare center in case the redness and tenderness on the injection site increases after 24 hours or if the side effects are bothering you or don’t recover even after a couple of days.
To relieve swelling or pain in the arm:
- Place a clean, cool, and wet piece of cloth over the area
- Use or exercise your arm
To relieve discomfort from the fever:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Dress lightly
After Vaccination, Can You Still Transmit The Disease To Others?
Getting both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t make you automatically invulnerable. The vaccine takes time to take effect, and so you must follow the general protocols that have saved many people during the pandemic. These include frequent hand washing, keeping a safe distance from other people, wearing masks, etc.
After the first COVID-19 shot, it takes about one week time for your body to develop antibodies. But you gain only partial immunity and not complete immunity from the first dose. Even after two doses, it provides you with nearly 85-95% protection against the COVID-19 virus.
Although you may be protected enough against the virus, you can still be at risk for being an asymptomatic carrier and possess the ability to carry and transmit the virus. More extensive research is required to draw any conclusion on this.
Till then, you can’t just assume that just because you have vaccinated, you are protected and no longer can carry the virus asymptomatically and transmit it to others.
The mRNA vaccines are safe and effective. Many people have received their first doses, and many are still awaiting their turn. Meanwhile, you can refer to this post and expand your knowledge about how these vaccines offer protection against the COVID-19 virus and what outcome you can expect. Know more about Generic Medicines in USA .
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