With spring came a wave of optimism, as 32 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine since December. The successful vaccine rollout has brought a lot of hope that life will return to normal and we'll get to enjoy all the things we love, like going on holiday, eating at restaurants and so much more.
If you're feeling nervous about the jab process - don't worry. We've done our research and hatched a handy guide to prepare you for your vaccination day experience, which includes opting for contact lenses, of course.
We all know that self-care is super-important, but it's essential before you have your vaccine, as it primes your immune system. In the week leading up to your appointment, try to get enough sleep (7-8 hours is recommended), drink plenty of water (2 litres is best), and maintain a healthy, nutrient-packed diet. For an extra dose of goodness, why not stock up on vitamins?
If you exercise regularly, it's best to take it easy on the day of your appointment as you don't want to put any strain on your body. It's also good to avoid alcohol 24 hours before. If you start experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, make sure to postpone your appointment - and if you have any allergies, chat with your GP about whether the vaccine is safe for you.
Preparing for your appointment
The last thing you want is to deal with added anxiety on the day of your appointment, so preparing is key. As soon as you get your call, text or letter from the NHS inviting you to book your appointment, take a moment to gather all the info you'll need on the day. For example, put together a list of medications you're taking, keep your booking confirmation handy and double-check the address of your vaccination centre, so you can find the best route there. Think about any questions you have about the process or side effects, so you can ask the medical professional that will administer the shot. It's also good to pack a snack in your bag and fill up your water bottle, in case you're in need of an energy boost after your jab.
Picking a comfortable and loose-fitting outfit, specifically with a short-sleeved shirt means that the clinician can access your arm easier, without you needing to undress. As you'll be asked to wear a face mask on the day, you want to keep fiddling at a minimum - opting for contact lenses means you get to avoid the pain of foggy glasses, and enjoy crystal-clear, comfortable vision throughout the day.
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The jab itself takes just 2 seconds, but your appointment should last around 20 minutes, as your clinician will discuss your medical history and aftercare. Be up-front with them if you have a fear of needles or have fainted in the past during an injection, as they are experts in putting you at ease or distracting you from the injection. If you're feeling nervous, try taking some deep breaths to relax your body and mind and remember that this is a step closer to normal life as we know it!
As your arm might feel a bit sore after your shot, it's good to go for your non-dominant one, as you don't need to use it as much. It's totally normal for your arm to feel uncomfortable for 1-3 days after your jab, so it's nothing to worry about. Simply apply a wet cold washcloth to the area, or an ice pack to soothe it and try to rest up.
After the jab
If you've driven to your appointment, or have certain existing medical conditions, you'll be asked to wait for 15 minutes after your shot, to allow the clinical team to confirm you're all good before you head off. Like many medicines, the COVID-19 vaccine does have some common side effects, but you'll find out all about them at your appointment. Whether you get the Moderna, AstraZeneca or Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, there's a chance that you might experience mild and short-term symptoms like headaches, nausea, fatigue and achiness afterwards. All of these are 100% normal - your immune system is simply reacting and producing antibodies to protect you! Just rest up, take some Paracetamol, and you'll be right as rain in a couple of days. If you experience other side effects like a continuous high temperature (for more than 4 days) or feel like you're having an allergic reaction, it's good to give your GP a ring.
Remember that the vaccine takes a couple of weeks to prepare your immune system to fight COVID-19, so it's good to keep following important safety guidelines, such as wearing a face covering, washing your hands regularly and keeping a distance. Following your second dose (which will be 12 weeks or so since your first one), you'll be better protected against the virus. The second dose gives you twice as much protection from being seriously ill, so it's advised to go back for yours.