Friends, it has finally happened — I got my second COVID-19 vaccine today! It was not easy getting here. Being pregnant, sick, immunocompromised, and prone to vaccine overreactions, the decision to get vaccinated was certainly complicated. It involved not only internal struggles but consults with multiple specialists. And then came the waiting: waiting for my state to allow chronic illness patients to sign up, waiting weeks for the next available appointment after signing up, waiting in line at the vaccine site, waiting for the nurse to run my complicated case by his boss just in case… And finally, waiting three weeks for the final shot.
My body’s response to this vaccine has not been easy, but I feel so much peace of mind knowing I’ve given my immune system this chance to defend itself. I am filled with gratitude, knowing that there are still others who have not been able to access this vaccine for a variety of reasons.
The president has named April 19th the deadline for states to open vaccine eligibility to everyone aged 16 and older. With this new wave of vaccinations, many will be preparing to get their jabs with a mixture of nerves and excitement. We’ve put together a checklist to help you feel ready to go when your day comes:
Already vaccinated? Congratulations! Check out our 4 Tips for Living it Up!
1. before signing up
If you haven’t already, you will be far from alone in signing up for vaccines on April 19th. Make sure you know what website you are going to use and create an account ahead of time. That way, you can jump straight to setting an appointment!
2. schedule in recovery time
We all hope to be the lucky ones who power through without any vaccine symptoms, but you never know. What you don’t want is to find yourself with flu-like symptoms and no backup plan. So, let your coworkers know you may need some time off. Ask someone at home to be available to help out if needed. In fact, I had trouble driving home due to my conditions starting to flare. For shot number two, I asked someone to drive me, to avoid feeling stranded. And don’t forget to remind yourself to practice self-compassion, should things go poorly.
Note: remember that these flu-like symptoms do not mean you caught COVID-19 or are contagious. They are simply evidence that your immune system is working overtime to protect you!
3. have your health facts on-hand
Hoping to get in and out quickly? Yeah, so was I… unfortunately, the nurse administering shots asked me questions like: “do you have any allergies?” (uhhhh, yeah, a million) and “are you taking any medications?” (buckle up, pal). It took forever to go through everything. Consider having diagnoses, med lists, allergies, and any other relevant medical information printed out and ready to go.
4. prepack your gear
Given that you might be there for a while, think about what you — and your unique body — need when going out. If this is your first time out in awhile, you’re likely out of practice, so think it through and get some things packed before you’re racing out the door already late. Things to consider:
- A well-fitted mask (or two)
- Hand sanitizer
- Water bottle
- Snacks for the trip home
- Mobility aids if standing/walking for long periods is difficult
- Comfortable clothes/shoes (and compression socks if needed for standing)
- Any medications you may need while out
- Something to do! You may be waiting awhile. You’ll thank yourself later for bringing a book, magazine, or podcast.
5. stay safe!
For some of us, these busy vaccination sites are the most human contact we’ve had in many months. When you’re there, remember to stay 6 feet away from others, wear your mask(s), and sanitize/wash your hands after touching things like door knobs or pens. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something seems unsafe. And if you are prone to allergic reactions, be sure to have EpiPens or antihistamines ready to go, just in case!
Note: it is not recommended to premedicate with pain killers, but you should talk to your physician about what is safe for you to use, should symptoms occur after your vaccine.