If you are getting ready for your COVID-19 vaccine, there are certain things you should and should not do to maximize protection from the shot, say experts.
Here are some recommendations:
- Stick to the recommended vaccine schedule. Dr. Deepti Mishra, chief medical officer at the Memorial Hermann Medical Group in Houston, told the Houston Chronicle that getting the second shot is crucial to protection. “Plan to be there for the second dose and make the appointment,” he said.
- Let healthcare professionals know if you have had COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you can still become reinfected with COVID-19 so getting vaccinated is still advised. However, if you received treatment such as monoclonal antibodies or plasma, wait 90 days before getting vaccinated, says the CDC.
- Do not mix vaccines. While the CDC says that you can receive a different vaccine for the second dose in exceptional circumstances, it is best to stick to one manufacturer, said Mishra. However, researchers in the U.K. are beginning human trials to see if we can boost effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine by using one manufacturer’s initial dose and a booster shot from another drug company, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Make your healthcare provider aware of any allergies you may have. You will probably be asked about previous allergic reactions to vaccines before getting inoculated. Mishra told the Chronicle that if you have had a severe reaction, your doctor needs to assess the situation before giving the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Continue to follow precautionary measures. Do not stop wearing masks. Dr. Sandro Cinti, an infectious disease expert at the University of Michigan, said that people who are vaccinated may still infect others. “You have to wear your mask,” he told CNN. The clinical trials of the vaccine candidates only tracked those individuals who developed COVID-19 symptoms but since 40% of people are asymptomatic, you could still have the virus in your nose and infect others, said Cinti. Do not stop social distancing, he added.
- Get a good night’s sleep before getting the vaccine. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has officially endorsed sleep as a proven way to get the most benefits from the COVID-19 vaccines. “Sleep is critical for optimizing immune function,” said board certified internist Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of the best-selling book, From Fatigued to Fantastic. “One of the most powerful ways to suppress immunity is through sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that vaccines are more likely to enhance immunity if you have good sleep for a few nights before and after a vaccination.”
- Wait 15 minutes after getting the vaccine. The CDC requires that everyone wait at least 15 minutes before leaving the vaccination site. “What clinics do is monitor you for 15 minutes after you get the vaccine,” said Mishra. “If you have a more severe reaction, then we recommend you wait 30 minutes.” Mishra added that some people may experience side effects such as arm pain, swelling, and fatigue but these typically go away in a day or so.
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