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What can I expect at my COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

Last Updated: 03/25/2021

Before Your Appointment

Taking over-the-counter medicine, like ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, or acetaminophen, is NOT recommended before vaccination because it is unknown how these medications interact with the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you get any other vaccine first, including a flu or shingles vaccine, wait at least 14 days before getting your COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, you should wait at least 14 days before getting any other vaccine after you get your COVID-19 vaccine.

If you do get a COVID-19 vaccine within 14 days of another vaccine, you do not need to be revaccinated with either vaccine. You should still complete both vaccine series on schedule.

When You Arrive For Your Appointment

Different vaccination sites may have slightly different procedures, but you will likely be checked in first.

Documentation is NOT required to be vaccinated. Vaccine sites may request documentation, but you are not required to have it to receive the vaccine. Points of dispensing must not ask for your immigration status.

You can expect to be asked demographic, occupational, and medical screening questions. Your name, address, date of birth, race, ethnicity, and gender will be securely stored in the New Jersey Immunization Information System.

These are standard data elements that have been used across vaccines administered in New Jersey. Any data collected for the COVID-19 vaccination program may only be used for public health purposes – not for civil, criminal, nor immigration enforcement.

Note: If you are uninsured, you can still receive a vaccine. The vaccine is free – there is no cost to you. Learn more about insurance coverage for COVID-19 vaccines here.

Accommodations For Individuals With Disabilities

Both COVID-19 vaccine mega sites and community-based sites have been designed to meet the needs of all residents in the state. All of these sites are ADA-compliant, and special arrangements are made for those with mobility issues.

In addition, because of the volume of individuals and size of the mega sites, many accommodations have been made to make them easier to navigate for individuals with disabilities.

All six vaccine megasites have quiet rooms to make the process less overwhelming for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who may be more sensitive to noise, light, and crowds. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, there is a sign language interpreter that is immediately accessible via FaceTime and one rotates between the megasites.

All of the vaccination mega sites have made accommodations for a wide-range of disabilities.

Scheduling Your Second Dose

If you are receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, you will need to schedule a second appointment to receive your second dose to have maximum protection against the virus.

Your second dose appointment should be scheduled at the same location where you got your first dose.

If you made your first dose appointment through the NJ Vaccine Scheduling System, you will receive an automatically scheduled second dose appointment and an email confirmation with the details of the second dose appointment.

If you received your first dose by booking directly with a vaccine clinic and did not use the NJ Vaccine Scheduling System, vaccination sites have been instructed to schedule your second dose appointment during your first appointment.

For more information about booking your second dose, refer to this article.

Note: Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine only requires a single dose. You do not need to get a second dose of the Janssen vaccine.

When You Get Vaccinated

You will receive a vaccination card or printout that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it.

You will receive a paper or electronic version of a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific COVID-19 vaccine you are being offered. Each authorized COVID-19 vaccine has its own fact sheet that contains information to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving that specific vaccine.

For more safety information about the vaccines and fact sheets, refer to this article.

After Getting Vaccinated

After receiving an injection of a COVID-19 vaccine, you will be observed for 15 minutes by healthcare staff to monitor any side effects. Observation may be longer (30 minutes) if you have a history of anaphylaxis.

Like many vaccines, a COVID-19 vaccine may cause some temporary discomfort. You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection.

In addition to a sore arm, side effects of the vaccines may include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, injection site swelling, injection site redness, nausea, feeling unwell, and swollen lymph nodes.

There is a small chance that vaccines could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour, which is why all individuals should be observed for at least 15 minutes after vaccination and 30 minutes if they have a history of a severe allergic reaction due to any cause.

If you have pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, or acetaminophen, for any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated. You can take these medications to relieve post-vaccination side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally.

In most cases, discomfort from fever or pain is normal and should go away in a few days. 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

Source: https://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/Public_FAQ.pdf ; https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect.html; Health Commissioner Persichilli's Remarks 3/8/21