vaccination station trepidation
January 17, 2021 10:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting my first vaccine dose in a week, how do I be preemptively less stressed about it?

I'm high risk and being vaccinated for Covid in about a week. That's so great! I am thrilled and grateful and excited. It's one of the best things that's ever happened to me! However: I am also a little freaked out, and trying to get on top of that stress before it spins out of control. I haven't even been inside a grocery store since March, and I got my flu shot in a drive through. I'm less freaked out than I would be because the shot is in a municipal building and not a hospital, but it feels to my anxiety very much like going to a hospital or walking into a covid zone. I'm worried about not taking enough precautions, or worst of all somehow blowing this opportunity for myself and my loved ones by...getting covid? Wasting the shot? Something?

So, to other people who have been vaccinated already or know someone who has: what are reasons I should not be scared? What was it like (especially if you also got it in a non-medical building)? What kind of PPE did you wear? How do they sign you in? Did you feel safe/like there was good social distancing/masking? How long did it take? How was it afterward? I think the more info I know the more relaxed I'll be, even though I know I'll spend, in total, much more time worrying than the shot will take. I'm not worried about the needle or shot itself or side effects but I would be interested to know how people reacted if you had any.

I'm getting Moderna but I'm happy to hear from anyone who got anything.

Thank you! I promise to raise a glass of antibodies in your honor.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I wore a KN95 mask to get two doses in a hospital setting. I had to sign in verbally and wait to be escorted to a socially distanced station where a nurse verified my information, completed the cdc card and forms, asked which arm, and then I went to a different socially distanced area for the 15 minute observation period. If you have history of severe allergies tell them, and they may extend to a 30 minute observation period.

First dose minimal injection site soreness the next day. Second dose, within 2 hours of taking it I had malaise and muscle pain as well as severe joint pain. I have autoimmune conditions which were probably triggered and caused worse symptoms. It seems about 50% of those that I know who got the vaccine experience side effects from the second dose. My side effects from dose 2 lasted 4 days. I expected to feel nothing, as I've never had symptoms from the flu shot.

I maintained my usual protocols after getting the vaccine. I'm almost at 2 weeks post second dose, but when I hit that milestone my behavior still won't change much until there's a much higher percentage of vaccined people in my area and health officials tell us we can relax a little.

I actually found the setting reassuring. It was clear that they had mastered effective logistics with social distancing protocols, and I have confidence in the hospital staff to follow best practices. Perhaps you could ask to complete the observation period outdoors to reduce exposure to others inside the building.

As far as "wasting it", I was instructed to avoid any anti-inflammatories taken before the dosage. Tylenol after for side effects was preferred to Advil. I was also told to avoid corticosteroids before and after, but I wasn't told this til I had already taken 15mg of Prednisone. Employee Health told me that while if I asked beforehand they would have advised against it, it was not likely to be a problem (took 3 days after second dose because the joint pain was excruciating and I wasn't able to function like that). The physician informed me that they have been giving the vaccine to individuals being treated with corticosteroids.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the facility or group administering the vaccine has more than likely given it to at least one cohort before you go. So, logically, if there were logistical issues, they would have discovered them and made efforts to correct them by now. Logistical issues would be the main source of increased COVID risk I suspect, though I'm not an epidemiologist so I'm not certain of that.
posted by crunchy potato at 10:41 AM on January 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

I got vaccinated last week so I think I can chime in. Moderna as well. Depending on where you go, the process will more or less be like a well-oiled machine. You arrive, they check you off a list (it's actually kind of like going to vote in a way) and then get in a line. I felt pretty safe as the line was only 3-4 people deep and social distancing was strictly enforced throughout. Keep in mind that all the people you're interacting with closely will themselves have been vaccinated, and while we don't have any evidence yet that vaccination actually completely prevents you from transmitting the virus, there's some decent evidence that it might at least hinder transmission. So the people you'd be most likely to catch it from at the site are also those least likely to transmit it in the first place. The nurse who gave me the vaccine wore a N95 mask + face shield + gown (although the security guard was wearing a PAPR!) and I felt at ease throughout despite it being a hospital setting in a very active hot spot.

Once you get the shot, you're directed into a (socially-distanced) waiting area where you wait 15 or 30 minutes, depending on your history of allergic reactions. Then they call you up to another station where you make your 2nd appointment. Then you're done. Don't forget your vaccination record card—it contains important info like the lot number of the vaccine you were given, and the date of your 1st dose and your 2nd appointment.

Worth noting that the Moderna vaccine is a bit more reactogenic compared to the Pfizer vaccine, largely because they use a larger dose of mRNA (100 micrograms versus 30). I felt a little lightheaded for the rest of the day—it was almost like being a bit tipsy—and felt a bit crummy the next day, sort of like a mild hangover, but was back to normal in another day. My shoulder was swollen and sore, but it wasn't anything worse than the flu shot in my experience.

Good luck! You've got this. Feel free to MeMail me if you have any questions too.
posted by un petit cadeau at 11:11 AM on January 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

My friend who got vaccinated in London yesterday posted this to his Facebook:
Things they don't tell you:

1) Take a pen. You will have to sign a consent form, and they are not allowed to give you a pen.

2) Take your own hand sanitiser. The dispensers at our place were already empty, which seemed to be news to the staff.

3) After you are jabbed, you are supposed to stay in a separate room to be 'observed for fifteen minutes'. No-one mentioned this, we found it out by accident, by wandering through the wrong door.

4) Do not assume that you have to join the queue outside. it may be made of people turning up on spec to blag their way in. Check with door security whether, having an appointment, you need to queue outside. They may be getting wise to this.

5) from the security bod at the door: They'd be very happy if you wore single-use gloves, as well as your mask.

But it's going, and it's going fine.
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:32 AM on January 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

I got the Pfizer Friday. I was nervous. Still am. Part of me didn't want to do it. For my side of the process: PPE: cloth mask, brought my own pen, winter gloves I took off inside and sanitized my hands after. The whole process took 22 minutes, including the 15 minutes after the shot. I waited outside until a couple of minutes before my appointment as I knew they were quickly processing people. I waiting in line like a minute, they had 10 stations set up in separate spots in two rooms, most of the staff were nurses and the process was very practiced. The only person who got in arms reach was the nurse who gave me the shot, and one rando guy. Everyone took it very serious, all masks, all the time and at every stop there was a human directing that stage. I get the flu shot every year - this one was that, but a little worse. Some ibuprofen, which I take like 2 a year, and its fine.

The only thing I would do different is I would take a full dose of ibuprofen 1/2 hour before.

Their side of the process: it was through my work and in the basement of one of our buildings, I think for security reasons as there are certainly better spaces. This is in Chicago. There was a id check at the entrance, a line with distance markings, a form to fill out, and then the usual medical checks, full name, birthday. The clip boards were sanitized after each use. The side room I got my shot had 4 stations, 6 nurses and everyone was about 10 feet apart. Every five minutes a new group of 10 people came through, processed one at a time. The recovery area was a huge auditorium with like 30 people in it. It reminded me of shuffling through to get pictures at elementary school, safe but chaotic at the edges, organized enough.

Things that were hard for me - it was the most people I have been in proximity to since March. A whole bunch of strangers. I haven't had much time to process it - I was notified only a few days ago. I feel like I didn't/don't deserve it - there are many people who need it more than I do. I have to accept that but I feel guilty that others will die waiting for this vaccine. I feel more paranoid now about getting covid, like that's how 2021 would work. Day four is when it starts to kick in, maybe it just takes a moment for it to be real in my mind. I have gotten more vigilant, wearing a mask outside, even if it's just me and the dog, I worry about the new strain, about looking a jerk who's immunized and flaunting it.

The good. I'm immunized for Covid19. I feel like a weight has been lifted from me, one I wasn't fully aware of. Grinding my teeth, my clenched jaw - the full body stress is so much less. Not gone, but better. The folks who gave me my shot had theirs - and it was the first social space that felt optimistic, like the local team had won the big game. People were nervous, some were chatty. I even felt chatty - which is so normal. Rando folks I know have told me that me getting a shot makes them feel optimistic that an end to all this madness is coming.
posted by zenon at 12:39 PM on January 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

The only thing I would do different is I would take a full dose of ibuprofen and a full dose of asperine 1/2 hour before.

I mentioned this up thread but just to emphasize, doing this (prophylactic anti-inflammatories) is thought to reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine so I would recommend taking nothing until after you've received it.
posted by crunchy potato at 12:43 PM on January 17, 2021 [9 favorites]

Ha - I just edited that out crunchy potato!
posted by zenon at 12:45 PM on January 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also can't spell ibuprofen or, uh, asperine. I did not get the message about anti-inflammatories before vaccination, and I generally don't take em. But my original comment suggest doing exactly that. So to clarify - after posting I noted upthread not to do take aspirin, I edited my comment but crunchy potato is also a fast potato and caught my error.

In my case I had to drive home after the shot before taking anything, so having something before is the only thing I wish I had done. Cause yea, it helps me a bunch to not be a big baby.
posted by zenon at 12:56 PM on January 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

My experience in the UK yesterday doesn't quite agree with Pallas Athena's friend - I didn't have to sign anything (no pen required) and my clinic was at a hospital so there was hand gel and proper surgical masks at the entrance.

I was told very, very clearly that I must wait for 15 minutes and they had two nurses standing watching the (socially distanced) waiting room. There was an anaphylaxis box in the room. The time I could leave was written on my vaccine card.

We were allocated appointments 5 minutes apart so although I queued, there were only 3 people in the queue and they were far apart. Nobody touched me or got close to me except the person who did my vaccine, the person entering my data on the computer system and the lady who gave me my card for my next appointment.

I think it is going to depend on where you get the vaccine done, but nobody wants to expose you to risk, and they certainly don't want COVID from you. So take precautions and be sensible but also be reassured that they will most likely be doing a great deal too.

Having said all that, being in a room with so many people made me feel incredibly uncomfortable, because that just feels wrong now! I don't think you will be able to avoid that feeling.
posted by kadia_a at 1:46 PM on January 17, 2021

I received the first does of the moderna shot on the 8th. I work in a healthcare setting, but the vaccine was administered in our adjoining pharmacy. We scheduled staff who asked to receive the vaccine over three days in order to spread everyone out and allow time for post-shot observation time. Consent forms were emailed out ahead of time and we were required to bring the completed form and our health insurance card to the appointment. I arrived at my appointment time, wearing my own cloth mask, handed over the consent form and insurance card to be scanned, was directed to the next room with the pharmacist and a nurse. They asked which arm, administered the shot in about 10 seconds, put on a band-aide and directed me to another room to hang out for observation for 15 minutes. My arm burned/ stung at the injection site immediately. A staff member asked me about 5 times if I was feeling alright, offered me tylenol and advised me to rotate my arm throughout the day/ evening to prevent stiffness. The burning/ stinging sensation went away after about 2 hours. My arm was sore the following day, then by Sunday there was no pain at all. The soreness was very similar to how my arm feels after a flu shot and was not unusual for me.
posted by JennyJupiter at 2:02 PM on January 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have had my 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine (healthcare worker). I wore a surgical mask similar to what I wear every day and sanitized my hands before going in. The process is much like people have described above and I would agree that it is designed to keep people as safe as possible.I did have a sore arm and felt kind of spacy/fatigued for a day or so after both shots. I thought it was actually easier than the flu shot for me. I was really excited and happy, so that may have made it go easier.
Many of my coworkers received the Moderna vaccine and it sounds like their experience was similar to mine as far as effects. Overall it was very simple and I felt better than I expected to.
posted by bookrach at 2:44 PM on January 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I had my first dose at the end of December. Moderna. We went to the county public health building (in uniform, so I’m not really sure what it’s like for non-healthcare/Fire/EMS). I filled out some information, they filled out a shot card, I got jabbed, we all waited 15 min, and we went back to work. Ibuprofen and water, absolutely. We wore N95s. All of the public health workers had on N95s and gloves. All of the doors were open, because it was December in coastal NC (like, 60 degrees). People receiving the shot were in a mashup of N95s, KN95s, surgical masks, cloth masks, and buffs. I didn’t think the shot itself hurt, but two hours later it felt like someone had beat my arm with a bat. I had a headache for 24 hours and my arm was VERY sore for about 4 days. One guy had a fever and a sore arm, one guy just complained of the hurt arm, and one guy supposedly had no side effects.

My friendperson had his first Pfizer dose last week and he had NO ill effects. Everyone at the health department, employees and people being vaccinated, seemed happy (?) relieved (?); idk how to explain it.

We’re all now entered into the NC Department of Health and Human Services Covid-19 database. I thought the process was quite smooth.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 3:20 PM on January 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

I had it on Thursday morning at a clinic sponsored by my hospital employer. People were signed up in 5-minute increments, so there's wasn't a huge line. I had to go onto a computer because I forgot to do the pre-shot questionnaire at home. That took 30 seconds and after sanitizing the keyboard, I got into a distanced line, where I waited maybe two minutes before a nurse cubicle opened. They asked a few questions like my name and employee ID and my arm of choice before giving the shot. (Got the Moderna shot) I then was sent to the back of the room where people were sitting distanced in chairs and given a 15-minute timer. I then went home, where I currently work.

If I were you, I wouldn't plan on doing anything too crazy the day after you get the shot. Later that day, I got a headache and felt generally lousy. Whether than was a side effect or me just being tired from the week I'm not sure. I also had some difficulty getting comfortable and had some muscle aches. My arm also hurt pretty good for about two days, so make sure it's the non-dominant one.
posted by greatalleycat at 5:02 PM on January 17, 2021

I work in a smaller, healthcare adjacent facility, so the process went quite smoothly in my experience. We received Moderna. Employees were scheduled in groups of 5 people every 30 mins, so that we were able to remain physically distanced while signing consent forms. Pens were given to us, and were collected after signing paperwork in order to sanitize. We then waited in line and our nurses took us back 2 at a time to separate areas to receive our 1st dose. The nurses were wearing full PPE including masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. Those of us receiving the vaccine were expected and required to wear face masks and use hand sanitizer when first entering the building and then again when entering the clinic itself. We then moved to an adjacent conference room - again - with enough room for 5 -10 people to physically distance, and were observed for 15 mins for any adverse reactions. I found the 1st dose to be quite easy - much less uncomfortable than the flu shot, although I had some arm soreness for about 24 hrs. I'll be receiving the 2nd dose next week. I was a little nervous beforehand, although it was hard for me to pinpoint why - since, like you, I was grateful and excited to have access to the vaccine, and am exhausted and burned out with the constant worry of being exposed and/or exposing others inadvertently. I felt pretty "slap-happy" afterwards, which I chalked up to the excitement and relief of it all.

My partner works for a large university healthcare system, and had a similar experience, although scaled-up immensely for the number of healthcare employees that were being vaccinated. They received Pfizer, and the process was very smooth. Sore arm for 24 hrs after their first dose. They experienced 24 hrs of mild fever, chills and fatigue after their 2nd dose, which several other healthcare providers also experienced, and seems to occur often enough that the CDC has recommended that healthcare facilities stagger 2nd doses so that staff isn't feeling unwell all at the same time. Not everyone experiences these side effects after the 2nd dose, but our team scheduled our 2nd dose so that we have the next day off or/and few responsibilities just in case.
posted by gollie at 5:13 PM on January 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

By this time, all the staff involved should have been vaccinated, so the number of potential sources if infection should be a lot less than the number of people you see,
posted by SemiSalt at 5:06 AM on January 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

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