What do I need to know after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is a critically important tool in ending the pandemic, protecting yourself and helping stop the spread of the coronavirus in our communities. Research shows that the vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19, as well as preventing you from becoming seriously ill or hospitalized even if you do get it.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and people who receive the vaccine can resume many of the activities that they stopped because of the pandemic,” said Dr. Shaun Sheehan, medical director of Penn Highlands Emergency Services and Penn Highlands COVID-19 Task Force Leader.

Whether you’ve already received the vaccine or will receive it soon, there are a few important things to know.

Make sure that you receive both doses, if applicable.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, so don’t forget to schedule your second shot! Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.

It takes at least two weeks to build immunity.
To be considered fully vaccinated from COVID-19, it takes at least two weeks from your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (or from the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Because it takes at least two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective, you could still contract COVID-19. That’s why it’s important to continue practicing all recommended safety guidelines.

Side effects are normal.
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and side effects are common. While your body is building immunity, you may experience tiredness, headaches, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea, as well as pain, swelling or redness at the site of injection. If your side effects are worrying you or do not get better after 24 hours, contact your healthcare provider.

After I’m fully vaccinated, can I spread the coronavirus to someone who’s not vaccinated?
Scientists are still studying the degree to which vaccines prevent a vaccinated person from spreading the virus to an unvaccinated person, and researchers are still learning how long the vaccine offers protection. Because of this, vaccinated people should continue to take precautions around unvaccinated people and in public places.

What can I do after I’m fully vaccinated?
The great thing about getting vaccinated is that you can return to many of the activities you enjoy, as long as you are following your state’s safety guidelines.

  • You can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or physically distancing.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks or physically distancing, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you’re in contact with someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine or get tested unless you develop symptoms.

What should I continue doing after I’m fully vaccinated?

  • Wear a mask in public.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid medium and large gatherings.
  • Get tested if you experience COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Follow these measures and all CDC guidelines when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease and when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.

Penn Highlands Healthcare is now scheduling eligible individuals in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination Phases. Please call 814-503-4735 or visit www.phhealthcare.org/coronavirus to schedule a vaccination appointment or be added to the wait-list.