What Should I Expect When I Get The COVID‑19 Vaccine?

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: January 21, 2021

At long last, the COVID-19 vaccine is here. In fact, there isn’t just one but two vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, that have received emergency use authorization from the FDA. Right now, supplies are limited so vaccines are going to those that need it most: healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. While you may have to wait weeks or even months for your chance to receive the vaccine, below is some information to make sure you are prepared when the time arrives.

Most COVID-19 vaccines require two injections. Even if you have strong side effects after the first shot, it is important to receive both vaccine shots to be effective, unless a clinician has told you not to do so.

So, what can you expect when you finally get the vaccine?

Before your appointment, you may want to familiarize yourself with how COVID-19 vaccines work. Different vaccines work in different ways, but all vaccines work to help your body fight infection in the future. It may take a few weeks after both injections for the vaccine to build up immunity in your body, but it is important to note that none of the approved COVID-19 vaccines can infect you with COVID-19.

It is important to continue to wear a mask and use social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, including at your vaccine appointment.

After your vaccination, you should receive a document that confirms which vaccine you received, the date received, and where it was administered. You should review the information sheet to familiarize yourself with common side effects of that vaccine and how to report them.

You may have some minor side effects, which shows your body is building protection against the virus. Side effects of the Pfizer and BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines could include pain and swelling near the injection site on your arm, fever, chills, tiredness, and achiness. These side effects should disappear within a few days, and they are mild compared to many people’s experiences with the COVID-19 virus.

To reduce discomfort, apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the injection site.

It will take time for your body to build up immunity after vaccination, and you may not be protected until around two weeks after your second vaccination. However, even after vaccination, you should continue to take precautions to protect yourself, including wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently.

For more details on what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.