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01.19.21 | Health & Wellness

What to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have both been authorized by the FDA for emergency use — and many more pharmaceutical companies will follow suit. According to the CDC, the COVID-19 vaccination is a vital tool in helping to stop the pandemic, building protection and keeping individuals from getting COVID-19. But what should you actually expect during your appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

It Will Take Time

For starters, it will take some time for the vaccine to become available to most people. As COVID-19 vaccine doses are being doled out across the United States, Chicago has already administered upwards of 60,000 vaccine shots. These administered shots have gone to health care workers and long-term care facilities as part of Phase 1A of Chicago’s vaccine rollout plan. Once completed, the city will move onto Phase 1B: where older Chicagoans and certain frontline workers will be vaccinated. 

Understanding How It Works

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use new mRNA technology. As the CDC explains, mRNA vaccines instruct our cells to create a (harmless) “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Once your body creates the spike protein, it recognizes the protein does not belong and begins to build an immune response and antibodies. These antibodies stick around and will help fight off COVID-19, while the spike protein is eventually eliminated by your body. 

What to Expect 

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are injected in the upper arm muscle and require two injections, 21 days and 28 days apart, respectively. After getting vaccinated, you may experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, tiredness and headache, as well as slight pain and swelling at the injection site. These side effects — if you do experience them at all (and many do not) — will subside in 1-2 days. 

When the time does come for your own vaccination appointment, always remember that routine processes and procedures are in place to ensure the utmost safety throughout the experience. It’s perfectly normal to experience anxiety and nerves, but being as informed as possible about the process will help to remedy that. 

A small vial of liquid with a label reading "COVID-19 Vaccine"
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