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Toi Degree column: Helpful vaccine info

By Toi Degree
N.C. Cooperative Extension

Let me first begin with the fact that I am not a doctor, but I want to share with you the correct place to get information as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccine. I know you may have a lot of questions, concerns and even some confusion. I get it; I am right there with you. Just researching for this article became overwhelming within the first 20 minutes. We are in what I call COVID Land and have been for almost a year now, but we finally have a vaccine.

Even though we have a vaccine, it’s still important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help control this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Continue to wear your mask, covering both your mouth and nose, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds and wash your hands often.

Because COVID-19 is new with new vaccines, there are many questions about what happens before, during and after your appointment to get vaccinated. These tips will help you know what to expect when you get vaccinated, what information your provider will give you and resources you can use to monitor your health after you are vaccinated.

Before vaccination:

  • See if COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for you right now.
  • Learn more about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines and how they work.
  • Learn more about the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • When you get the vaccine, you and your healthcare provider will both need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth. Stay 6 feet away from others while inside and in lines.

 When you get vaccinated:

  • You should 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 should 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.
  • All people who get a COVID-19 vaccine should be monitored on-site. Some may experience rare severe allergic reactions following being vaccinated, so staying for monitoring is very important.

After vaccination:

  • With most COVID-19 vaccines, you will need two shots in order for them to work effectively. Get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first one unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get a second shot.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about getting started with v-safe, a free, smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe also reminds you to get your second dose if you need one. Learn more at www.cdc.gov/vsafe.
  • It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines that require two shots may not protect you until a week or two after your second shot.

For more information, visit:

Different types of COVID-19 vaccines and how they work:


Benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine:


Vaccine and rare severe allergic reactions:


I suggest you do your homework and/or talk to your doctor prior to being vaccinated to be sure that you are doing what’s best for you. Take care and stay safe!

Toi N. Degree is associate family and consumer education agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Contact her at 704-216-8970 or by email at toi_degree@ncsu.edu.

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