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2 Your Well-Being: What to do after you get the COVID-19 vaccine

In today's 2 Your Well-Being, we are breaking down what you need to do hours, days, even weeks after your shot.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — As COVID-19 vaccinations continue, it's important to understand what to do after you get your COVID-19 vaccine. In today's 2 Your Well-Being, we are breaking down what you need to do hours, days, even weeks after your shot with Cone Health's Chief Physician Executive Dr. Bruce Swords.

First few hours after getting the vaccine

You might have certain side effects after getting the vaccine. Dr. Swords said common ones include pain, swelling in the arm, and redness near the injection site. You might also experience fatigue or maybe headaches. That's your body's way of building immunity. Signs that you might be having a more serious reaction include swelling in your tongue or throat and shortness of breath. Many vaccine sites will ask you to stay 15 to 30 minutes after getting your vaccine to watch for these symptoms. 

Many people ask if you can take ibuprofen before or after getting your shot. Dr. Swords recommends not taking it because it could impact your body's reaction to the vaccine. If you feel like you need to take something, Dr. Swords said Tylenol is the better choice. When it comes to your everyday medication, Dr. Swords said to continue to take them unless directed not to by your doctor. 

Days after getting the vaccine

Dr. Swords said it could take up to two weeks to be as immune as possible to COVID-19 after taking the vaccine. How long that immunity lasts is still up in the air. Doctors will be looking at vaccine recipients closely over the next few months and even years to see if you need another round of the vaccine. 

Swords said you need to continue the 3 w's, wear a face mask, wash your hands, and wait 6 feet apart. The vaccine is not foolproof and there is always a chance you can still get COVID-19 and pass it along to other people.

Weeks and months after getting the vaccine

Dr. Swords said it's important to keep a record of your COVID-19 vaccine. It makes it easier for hospitals and care providers to treat you if you can prove you have had the shot. He recommends taking a picture of your COVID-19 vaccination record on your phone because you are less likely to lose your phone than a piece of paper. 

So what if you lose your COVID-19 vaccination record? Dr. Swords said to contact where you got your vaccine and have them issue a new card as soon as you can.