What to expect when you get the COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — As several counties and hospital systems expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone ahead of the state expansion on April 5, local health experts are helping answer some of the most common questions about the shots.

Dr. Richard Van Enk, the director of infection prevention and epidemiology for Bronson Healthcare, said the vaccines have a level of effectiveness about a week after the first dose but you are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the second dose or two weeks after Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

“You can give people the vaccine and they can still get COVID a week or two after that because your immune response is not complete yet,” Van Enk said.

He said moving your arm can help reduce soreness from the shot and recommends staying properly hydrated.

“You might have a little bit of a fever, you might feel a little warm, you might have a little bit of headache, you might be a little bit tired,” he listed. “All those are normal responses to any vaccine.”

A severe allergic reaction, though rare, is the most serious risk — but Van Enk explained that’s why people must wait at their clinic between 15 to 30 minutes after their appointment so care can be provided in case there is a problem.

He said the second shot often produces a stronger response from the immune system.

“Typically, the second dose has a little more side effects than the first dose because it’s the second time your body has seen it and so it says, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen this before. I’m going to start responding quicker and stronger the second time,'” he explained.

There is some leeway if you have to cancel your second shot appointment, but Van Enk says you should not put it off and should reschedule as soon as possible.

Lyndi Warner, a public information officer with Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services, said vaccine supply allowed the department to open up appointments to residents 16 and older this week. Additional appointments made available on the health department’s website Tuesday morning were booked within three hours.

If there is a cancellation, the slot will reappear on the county’s vaccination website, but Warner says you should also check with other providers like local hospital systems, health centers and pharmacies.

Some 6,500 people will receive a shot through the Kalamazoo County vaccination program this week.

“We’re close to 38% of our residents have been vaccinated with at least one dose and then we’re close to 22% have been fully vaccinated,” Warner said.

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