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COVID-19 Vaccine: How to Prepare and What to Expect

“How will I know when it’s my turn?”

“Are the vaccines really safe?”

As Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccination plan transitions from phase 1A to phase 1B, we’re hearing a lot of questions like these. You’re looking for answers… and we want you to know that we hear you.

With an abundance of information out there, it can be especially difficult to find credible sources on the internet these days. Here at OhioHealth, we want to help you feel confident in the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as your decision to potentially schedule your appointment. To help you get an idea what getting a COVID-19 vaccine entails, we put together the following vaccine expectation guide.

What to do before your COVID-19 vaccination appointment

Waiting for your eligibility group

With each passing week, more and more Ohioans will become eligible for vaccination. If you’re waiting for your turn, we recommend staying up-to-date on all things COVID-19! Here are some great resources to check out:

Scheduling your appointment through MyChart

Yay! The day has come for your turn to schedule your vaccination appointment. At OhioHealth, we will be scheduling appointments for OhioHealth patients through MyChart. You can access MyChart through your device’s web browser, or by downloading the MyChart app!

Not sure how to sign up? Check out our registration guide for step by step instructions.

Monitor your symptoms

Now that you have your appointment scheduled, it’s important to stay aware of how you’re feeling. If you…

  • Experience any COVID-19 related symptoms the day of your vaccination.
  • Were exposed to COVID-19 and are in quarantine.
  • Traveled out of state in the two weeks before your appointment.
  • Received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19 in the last 90 days.
  • Received another vaccine in the past two weeks.

…you should let your vaccination site know and reschedule your appointment, in order to protect yourself and others.

The day of your vaccination appointment

What should I wear?
In order to receive your vaccine, you will have to wear a mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin, as well as a short sleeved or loose-fitted top so your upper arm can be easily exposed to receive the vaccine.

What should I bring?
You must bring a government-issued ID, such as your driver’s license or ID card. If this is your second dose, you must also bring your COVID-19 vaccination record card.

Can my friend/family member come in with me?
Visitors are not permitted unless acting as a caretaker or legal guardian.

Please arrive no more than 10 minutes before your appointment time. You must wear your face mask at all times, as well as maintain at least 6 feet from other patients and vaccine clinic staff. When you check in for your vaccination, you will be asked a series of questions. After you answer these questions, you will receive a vaccination card that includes the vaccine you will be getting and the date and location you are receiving the vaccine. You do not get to choose which vaccine you receive.

When it’s your turn to be vaccinated, you will give the healthcare provider that is administering your shot your vaccination card. They will fill out your card while asking you questions. Based on your responses, you will be asked to wait 15-30 minutes after your vaccination so you can be monitored. This is a really important step to ensure you don’t experience any adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine.

What to expect after your COVID-19 vaccination appointment

Potential Side effects

“An immune response is your body’s way of recognizing the vaccine and starting to build immunity against COVID-19. We want people to know that they may feel off kilter for 24 hours. You may have pain at your injection site, feel fatigued, have a headache or a low grade fever, but that’s completely normal,” -Joseph Gastaldo, MD, System Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at OhioHealth.

After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you may experience…

  • Fatigue
  • Mild body aches or joint pain
  • Body chills
  • Low grade fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Slight muscle pain, redness or swelling in the arm where the vaccine was given

I’m experiencing side effects…what should I do?

  • If experiencing discomfort where you received your shot, use or exercise that arm.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Call your primary care provider or visit an urgent care.
  • If you experience an adverse reaction or symptoms worsen, go to the emergency department or call 911.

Get set up with v-safe

After your vaccination, you should receive information about v-safe. V-safe is a free app that allows you to keep the CDC up-to-date on your side effects and provides you with second dose reminders.

What do I do now?

Both COVID-19 vaccines available now (updated 1/15/21) require a second dose; Pfizer-BioNTech’s second dose is 21 days after your first shot, and Moderna’s is 28 days after. Unless your vaccine provider or doctor tells you not to, you should get your second shot in order to maximize your immunity against COVID-19. You will receive the same vaccine for both of your doses. So, if given the Moderna vaccine for your first shot, you will also receive Moderna for your second.

Both vaccines have shown to be highly effective. However, it’s still critical to protect yourself and others by practicing your mitigation strategies. Continue to…

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer when soap is unavailable.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin every time you leave your home or are around those not in your household.
  • Continue to stay at least 6 feet (the more distance, the better!) away from others who don’t live with you.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces often.

What the future holds

“As 2021 comes along, we’re going to continue to learn about COVID-19 and the vaccines. I feel confident in saying that as more people get vaccinated, fewer people will get sick, fewer people will become hospitalized and fewer people will die from this virus. This is really a turning point for where we are in this COVID-19 journey,” -Joseph Gastaldo, MD, system medical director of Infectious Diseases at OhioHealth.

We don’t know yet how long immunity from the vaccine lasts, and therefore how frequently it will be recommended for people to get the vaccine. What we do know is that the vaccines are safe, effective and represent the turning point in our COVID-19 journey. If you’re hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to continue your research so you can make an informed decision… a decision that is best for you.

Where can I find more information?

Suggested resources from the…

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website:

Ohio Department of Health Website:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Website:

If you think you may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, call your primary care doctor or the Ohio Department of Health call center. The call center is now open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. to answer your COVID-19 questions, and can be reached at 1 (833) 4-ASK-ODH (1 (833) 427-5634).

The information in this article was updated on January 14, 2021. For the latest information concerning…


Go to the COVID-19 vaccine scheduling landing page


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