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So You’ve Been Vaccinated—Now What?

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With public health efforts underway to vaccinate as many members of the Houston community as quickly as possible, many people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine are wondering what happens next. Below, we address some of the most common questions related to the days and weeks following your COVID-19 vaccination.

Don’t be alarmed if you experience side effects from your COVID-19 vaccine.

Minor to moderate side effects related to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are common, and experts believe they are a sign that the vaccine is working and building an immune response within your body. According to the official fact sheets released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people who receive the Moderna vaccine may experience reactions at the injection site, including pain, tenderness, redness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, as well as fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea, vomiting and fever. Individuals who receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may also report pain, swelling and redness at the injection site as well as tiredness, headaches, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, nausea and swollen lymph nodes. The side effects are temporary and usually resolve within a few days.

Be sure to schedule your second dose within the manufacturer’s recommended timeframe.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses to reach their maximum efficacy against COVID-19, which is 95 percent and 94 percent, respectfully. According to the manufacturer’s recommendations, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines should be given three weeks, or 21 days apart, while the Moderna vaccine should be given one month apart. Importantly, individuals should ensure that their second dose is from the same manufacturer as their first.

Yes, you still need to practice the three W’s.

You are not protected from COVID-19 immediately after receiving your first vaccine, and you can still spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 disease, after receiving your first dose. With that said, it is still uncertain whether individuals who have received both doses can be “silent” carriers of the virus and spread it to people who have not yet been vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because of these unknowns, and the risks associated with spreading COVID-19, public health experts are urging everyone—whether they have been vaccinated or not—to continue to practice the three W’s: wearing a mask, watching your distance and washing your hands regularly.

Still, by receiving your vaccine, you have taken an important step to protect yourself from COVID-19, and you have played a critical role in our community’s fight against the deadly virus. Each vaccination brings our population one step closer to herd immunity and to an end to this pandemic.

You can print out copies of your official vaccination records.

At some point, you may be asked to present proof of your COVID-19 vaccine, be it for travel, personal or work purposes. In addition to your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, provided to you during your vaccination appointments, you can access official vaccination records on Memorial Hermann’s patient portal, Everyday Well. This online account is accessible via the web or an app on your phone. To sign up, go to: https://www.memorialhermann.org/services/specialties/everydaywell/join and follow the step-by-step directions listed on the page. Once logged in, you can access your medical records, including proof of COVID-19 vaccination. COVID-19 vaccination records can be located by clicking on the “Health Information” tab, then selecting “Health Summary,” and then scrolling down to the “Immunizations” section.

If you need help creating your Everyday Well account, please call (713) 222-CARE (2273).

Please note that you must have received your COVID-19 vaccination through Memorial Hermann in order to obtain your records through the Everyday Well patient portal. 

If you are unable to access your vaccination records through Everyday Well, you may also request them through the Memorial Hermann Release of Information Department. For more information, please go to: https://www.memorialhermann.org/patients-visitors/patient-services/release-medical-records.

Finally, your healthcare provider can also request your records through ImmTrac2, Texas’ statewide immunization registry.

By Alexandra Becker

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