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What’s it like to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

Last Updated

April 12, 2021

The answers on this site were developed with and vetted by the CDC

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will be a lot like getting any other shot.

When you go in, you’ll be given a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific vaccine you’re being offered.

Once you’ve had the vaccine, you will receive a vaccination card with the date, location, and type of vaccine you received. You might also get a card reminding you when to come back for the second shot if applicable.

The supply of vaccines will increase in the coming weeks and months. We expect several thousand vaccine providers across the country to offer vaccines — including doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, and certain other qualified healthcare centers.

What is v-safe?

v-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell the CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And v-safe will remind you to get your second shot.

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How will I feel afterwards?

It’s normal to experience some mild discomfort following a vaccine. This means it’s working and creating an immune response in your body.

You may feel soreness or experience some swelling in your arm. You may also feel tired, have a headache, fever, or chills. These symptoms do not mean you have COVID-19 — it’s not possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

These side effects may impact your daily activities, but they shouldn’t last more than 2-3 days. If they continue or get worse, call your doctor, nurse, or clinic.

Even if you have these types of effects after your first shot, it’s important to make sure you get the second one, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get a second shot or you get the vaccine that only requires one dose. Ask your doctor if you have questions. Your body takes time to build immunity. You may not be fully protected against COVID-19 until 1-2 weeks after your final shot.

In most cases, discomfort from fever or pain is normal. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider:

  • If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours
  • If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
  • If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and rare severe allergic reactions.
What to expect after the vaccine (CDC)
Could I have an allergic reaction?

Severe allergic reactions to vaccines are extremely rare. The FDA says the authorized COVID-19 vaccines appear to be safe for people with common food or environmental allergies.

CDC recommends that people get vaccinated even if they have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications—such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions may also get vaccinated.

If you have had an immediate allergic reaction — even if it was not severe — to a vaccine or injectable therapy for another disease, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated.

All people who get a COVID-19 vaccine should be monitored on site. People who have had severe allergic reactions or who have had any type of immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy should be monitored for at least 30 minutes after getting the vaccine. All other people should be monitored for at least 15 minutes after getting the vaccine.

More about adverse effects (CDC)
Do I still have to wear a mask?

Yes. Until enough Americans are vaccinated, it’s important to continue to wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with, avoid crowds, and wash your hands frequently.

Researchers are working to understand whether you can still carry the virus and spread it to others if you’ve had the vaccine and are protected from getting sick.

Continuing to wear a mask helps protect others while we learn more about how COVID-19 spreads. It also helps protect people who are not able to get vaccinated — such as pregnant women or young children.

How to protect yourself and others (CDC)