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What can I expect at my COVID-19 vaccine appointment?
Before Your Appointment
If you do not regularly take over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, or acetaminophen, you should not take them before you get a COVID-19 vaccination. It is not known how these medicines might affect how well the vaccine works.
Note: You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu shot at the same time. Experience with other vaccines has shown the way our bodies develop protection, known as an immune response, after getting vaccinated and possible side effects of vaccines are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines. Learn more about the timing of other vaccines.
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
Community-based COVID-19 vaccination sites have been designed to meet the needs of all residents in the state. These sites meet ADA accessibility standards, and special arrangements are made for those with mobility and other challenges as needed.
Individuals with disabilities must be permitted to be accompanied by a support person or companion, and individuals with disabilities cannot be denied access if they are unable to wear a mask due to a disability or medical condition.
All vaccination sites have also been encouraged to establish dedicated vaccine 'lanes' for those requiring additional time or additional assistance. Individuals may contact a vaccination site directly to speak to a representative about an accommodation in advance of their appointment.
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.
Residents can get their second dose at any vaccine location and do not need to return to the site where they received their first dose. There is currently widespread vaccine availability across the United States.
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