You may feel you’ve won the lottery if you’ve received your 1st or 2nd shot. As of mid-March, nearly 40 million Americans have received at least one dose. However, there are things to know about life after the vaccine. It may look a lot like it did before the vaccine.

According to the CDC, you may experience some side effects. These could include injection site pain (gently messaging that area before going to bed, helps a lot), swelling, and redness at the injection area are commonly experienced after the 1st dose. After the 2nd dose, side effects included headaches, fatigue, chills, and muscle pain. These usually only last 2-3 days afterward. This is a sign that the vaccine is working. The flu vaccine typically produces these same side effects as well.

The CDC still recommends we keep wearing a mask after we’ve received the vaccine, as well as social distancing and frequently washing our hands. This is because even after being fully vaccinated, we’re not “off the hook.” “Why not?” you ask. Moderna and Pfizer provide up to 95% effectiveness after both doses, but remember everyone’s immune system is different. Scientists believe the Pfizer vaccine reaches its full effectiveness 7 days after the 2nd dose; Moderna takes about 14 days.

The vaccines do not “shield” you from the virus. It teaches your body to fight the virus and keeps you from becoming chronically sick. CDC says we can still be asymptomatic but spread it to others. There are no reports that tells us how long the “immunity” lasts after our vaccine. We just don’t know, and it still can evolve. There is a possibility we all may need boosters from time to time. But then again, that’s what happens every year when we get our annual flu shots.

Anyone Flying? Most of us have been grounded since last March. Many are eager to resume air travel for various reasons. Doctors are still suggesting people wait a few weeks after vaccination before getting on a plane. If you fly out of the country, a recent COVID-19 test is required before returning to the U.S. You’ll have to show test results (which shouldn’t be more than three days old) before boarding. This mandate applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. And quarantining is still necessary because scientists think you may be able to spread COVID-19 even if you’ve been vaccinated. Proof of vaccination may eventually be required by some airlines, so if you are vaccinated, make sure you keep your vaccination card in a safe place.

The world seems to have more hope, now that with all these precautions and more people getting vaccinated, the virus should be less communicable and less likely to spread. So, until the next time, stay safe and be well and take care.

CDC / Dr Andrea
Klemes / Mayo