What to do when getting vaccinated
Recently secured your appointment for your Covid-19 vaccination? You may have been seeing your friends posting about their vaccination effects all over social media, with some people having hardly any side effects, while others may be getting post-jab fevers and chills; and in other cases, having no effects after the first dose, but having a severe reaction after the second.
Rest assured that it’s totally normal to experience vaccine aftereffects, but it’s also perfectly fine to experience mild to no side effects as well, as many of the vaccine trials reported a significant number of participants not reporting any side effects after receiving their shots. Whichever the case, you can have confidence that the vaccine is working, you are developing the antibodies you need, and that you are doing your part to protect yourselves and others from the virus. Bravo!
However, if you are concerned about getting your vaccine and how it might interrupt your daily schedule, there are a few things you can do to try and make your appointment and post-appointment experience run a little smoother.
Whichever vaccine you’re getting, follow these handy tips and you’ll be all set to ensure your vaccine experience is (mostly!) a good one.
Checklist before heading out:
Before heading to your vaccination centre, check your handbag or pockets to make sure you have your essentials with you:
- Your MyKad or valid ID
- A mask
- A pen to fill up or sign any forms,
- A small bottle of water (in case you have a long wait), and
- Your phone with MySejahtera installed (for easy check-in to your vaccination centre)
Bonus tip: Make sure your phone is fully charged or bring a powerbank with you in case you have a long wait.
You are also recommended to wear a shirt with short sleeves or long sleeves that are loose-fitting and can easily be rolled up.
While you are encouraged to be punctual, you only need to be 15 to 30 mins early from your appointment time to avoid crowd congestion. You can expect to put aside a max of 2 hours for your total appointment time.
Be honest about medical concerns:
During your vaccination, you will have an opportunity to speak to a doctor before receiving your shot. While you may be eager to get your vaccine shot and even though the vaccines are safe, it is important that you share any medical concerns you may have, such as history of blood-clotting in your family, allergy to medications, and if you are pregnant, so that you can more accurately assess any possible personal risk.
And needless to say, if you are experiencing any symptoms at all that may be signs that you may have Covid-19 (even if you haven’t been tested), or if you are a contact case or someone that is still within a recommended isolation period, cancel and/or delay your vaccine appointment immediately.
Back up your immune system:
The best thing you can do for yourself the day before and after your shot is to practice healthy eating and get a good amount of sleep. Avoid junk food and alcohol at least 24 hours before and after your shot, and it is recommended that you consume nutrient-rich meals leading up to your vaccine day as well as for a day or two after. Superfoods such as green vegetables and fruits packed with Vitamin C can help toughen up your immune system against vaccine side effects.
You should also drink lots of H2O, as staying hydrated is a key step in limiting the duration and intensity of side effects.
By getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep (at least within the days before and after your shot), you’re helping your immune system rebuild defences while you sleep. On the contrary when you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system may be slightly weakened, leading to possible susceptibility to side effects as your body tries to develop protection after receiving the vaccine.
Depending which day of the week and what time of the day your vaccine appointment is, you may want to consider taking the next day off from work. For example, if your appointment happens to fall on a weekday morning, then consider taking at least the rest of that day off; and if it falls on a weekday evening, consider taking the following day off. A post-vaccine low-grade temperature, body aches and chills are pretty common side effects (it’s a good thing – it means your immune system is reacting to the vaccine!), and so in case you feel feverish, rest is highly recommended.
Preventing a sore arm:
The Covid-19 vaccine is an intramuscular injection, which means it goes all the way into your deltoid, ie. the large muscle that allows your arm and shoulder its range of motion. This makes the post-jab sore arm a pretty common side effect, not just for the Covid-19 vaccine but for vaccinations in general.
And while a little arm soreness may not be a huge impediment to your day, there are steps you can take to minimise this minor inconvenience. Try to avoid overly strenuous activities just before and after your dose; for example if you’re a gym goer, avoid doing a heavy weight set the day before your appointment, and avoid lifting heavy boxes or furniture after receiving your shot.
If you’re experiencing noticeable discomfort on the injection site, then consider a cold compress such as putting a clean, cool washcloth against your arm muscle, which should help with any inflammation.
And while you should avoid over straining your arm, you should actually perform mild movements such as lightly swinging or stretching your arms throughout the day after your shot to minimize soreness.
Reminder: When getting your shot, make sure to ask for it to be administered into your non-dominant arm so that you are able to retain function with your other hand.
While you are encouraged to stock up on paracetamol at home before your vaccine appointment, it is important to note that you are not recommended to take paracetamol before receiving your shot as a preventative measure to side effects. This is due to the fact that it there isn’t enough information regarding possible effects of certain medications and how the vaccine works.
However, if you are experiencing effects such as fever and pain after your shot, taking paracetamol can help reduce these symptoms.
Make sure you don’t exceed the recommended dose, which is 500mg of paracetamol taken 4 to 6 hours apart, and not more than 4 times within a 24-hour period.
After your shot:
You will be asked to stay for 15 to 30 minutes at the vaccination centre for observation, in case of any immediate side effects.
Make sure you update your vaccination status on MySejahtera, and if you’ve only received your first shot, check the app for your second shot appointment. You can also use MySejahtera to report any side effects.
Finally, remember to thank the healthcare workers at the centre, and don’t be shy to grab that ‘I’ve been vaccinated’ shot of yourself for the ‘gram!
Information sourced from:
Ministry of Health, Malaysia
The Special Committee for Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply, Malaysia (Jawatankuasa Khas Jaminan Akses Bekalan Vaksin Covid-19 – JKJAV),
The CDC (American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),
The NHS (British National Health Service), and
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund).
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