What to expect from the COVID-19 vaccine

With coronavirus vaccines starting to become more widely available, InsideUNI reached out to Student Health Clinic director Shelley O’Connell with some questions about what to expect when getting vaccinated. While Iowa has expanded its eligibility   
 

Why do some people feel bad after the first dose?

It is normal to have some side effects after the first dose of COVID-19. Many people report having swelling and a sore arm for a few days after their first dose. 

What should we expect after the first vs second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna Vaccine?

With the second shot people may experience fever, chills, tiredness, joint pain,or a headache. How should we treat those symptoms? To lessen the severity of the symptoms it can be helpful to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Additionally, putting a cool washcloth on the injection site may be helpful and staying hydrated will ease the discomfort. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that those who have been vaccinated use the V-Safe app to help track their symptoms. 

Why do these symptoms differ so much from person to person?

Everyone develops an immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine differently. Some studies have shown that people 55 and older have few side effects. 

Do I need more than 1 dose if I’ve recovered from Covid-19?

Yes, with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be fully effective require someone to receive two vaccines appropriately spaced out to have full protection. Previously having COVID-19 does not alter the number of doses a patient will receive.

Can we change our lifestyle/behavior after the first dose? How about the second?

The COVID-19 vaccine is only one of the valuable tools that we have to help stop the pandemic.  We need to continue to be responsible with our behaviors by wearing our face coverings/masks, remain physically distanced, avoid crowds, stay home if you're sick, wash your hands frequently, clean and disinfect, and monitor your health. 

Is it known if a vaccinated person can not be sick but still transmit the virus?

Research is still being conducted on this topic. As more and more people are vaccinated additional information on the ability for someone's immune system to stop the coronavirus from reproducing within your body. 
 

How well do the vaccines protect against variants?

We hear different vaccines have different effectiveness - how do we decide which to get? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are  effective against the variants. 

Do we still need to be tested if we have covid-like symptoms after being vaccinated?

If you are having covid-like symptoms you should call your healthcare provider to have your symptoms evaluated and to see if covid-19 testing is recommended. 

What do you expect the rest of the year to look like?

I see us following the Centers for Disease control and Prevention guidance on masks/face coverings usage, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, as well as the recommendations on travel. As more information comes out about the new variants and how all vaccines help with herd immunity, these will all play into how our “new normal looks.”