Tips to prepare for your second COVID-19 shot

As you prepare to receive your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, it’s important to be aware of the following reminders and tips to make your experience go smoothly.

When to get your second shot

Both COVID-19 vaccines will require two shots to get the most protection. The timing between your first and second shot depends on which vaccine you received. You should get your second shot:

  • For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: 3 weeks (or 21 days) after your first shot
  • For the Moderna vaccine: 1 month (or 28 days) after your first shot

You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible. At minimum, you may schedule your second dose four days prior to the 21 or 28-day timeframe. However, the CDC says there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

When scheduling: Double check the vaccine manufacturer

It is very important that you receive the second dose from the same manufacturer – whether it’s Pfizer or Moderna. As you schedule your second-dose appointment, make sure to verify that the vaccine clinic date is administering the correct vaccine you need.

Bring your vaccination card

For your safety, it’s important to bring the vaccination card that was given to you during your first dose. This will allow vaccinators to validate and verify you are receiving the correct vaccination at the right time, as well as complete the documentation of your COVID-19 vaccination. Tip: Take a picture of your vaccination card in case you misplace the hard copy.

Screening questions to review prior to your vaccination

You WILL NOT be able to receive the second dose if you:

  • Have a known history of a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or any components of the vaccine.  
  • Have a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components
  • Have an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components (including polyethylene glycol [PEG])
  • Have an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to polysorbate

See vaccine component resources:

  • Are under the age of 16 years when getting the Pfizer vaccine or under the age of 18 when getting the Moderna vaccine.
  • Received any vaccinations of any kind in the last 14 days prior to getting the vaccine. (Note: The vaccine series should be administered alone with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccine.)

Consult with your provider prior to receiving your second dose if you answer “yes” to any of the questions below:

  • Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks?
  • Have you had a new onset of fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea?
  • In the past 90 days have you received passive antibody therapy as part of COVID-19 treatment?
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding or do you plan to become pregnant?
  • Are you immune compromised or on a medicine that affects your immune system?
  • Do you have a bleeding disorder or are you on a blood thinner?
  • Do you have a history of severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) to another vaccine or injectable medication? (Note: It’s been reported that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine may cause adverse reactions in people who have had facial fillers. Learn more.)

Note:

Be prepared to remain in the vaccination area for at least 15 minutes following your vaccination. This additional time if for your safety and allows the vaccine team to monitor you in the event of a reaction. If you have a history of anaphylaxis to a vaccine or other injectable medication in the past, you will be asked to remain for 30 minutes. Review the caregiver post-vaccination process.

Common side effects to watch for

You may experience some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.

On the arm where you got the shot:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Throughout the rest of your body:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Headache

Helpful tips to deal with discomfort

If you have pain or discomfort, talk to your provider about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot:

  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area
  • Use or exercise your arm

To reduce discomfort from fever:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Dress lightly

When to seek medical help

Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest hospital if you have a severe allergic reaction, including difficulty breathing, swelling of your face and/or throat, a fast heartbeat, a bad rash all over your body, or dizziness and weakness. Call your health care provider if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.

Vaccine-related benefits available

Data suggests that a relatively small number of caregivers will experience side effects, which may be more common after the second vaccination dose. If you experience COVID-like side effects (e.g., fever, chills, etc.) within 48 hours of receiving the vaccine, you are eligible for up to two days total of pandemic administrative leave pay if you miss scheduled shifts due to your vaccinations. Learn more about this other benefits and well-being resources available to support you.

CDC resource: Sign up for v-safe health checker  

You can enroll in v-safe, a tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Participation is voluntary. Through v-safe, you can report to the CDC any side effects after getting the vaccine. Learn more.

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