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Here is what to expect following your second COVID-19 vaccine dose

A Metro Vancouver doctor explains what you should expect following your second dose.
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A Metro Vancouver doctor explains what you should expect following your second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and how you should prepare for the appointment.

If you haven't lifted up your sleeve for the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, you may be wondering about a couple of things. 

For one, many people aren't sure when they'll get the second jab. 

B.C. has ramped up its vaccination effort tremendously in the past few weeks. Now, over 75 per cent of adults are vaccinated with their first dose, exceeding the target Step 2 minimum threshold of 65 per cent.  

But while the majority of British Columbians have received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, many of them haven't been contacted about a second dose. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that people shouldn't feel anxious about getting their second jab. Instead, she underscored that a longer interval between first and second doses will offer better protection.  

What kind of side effects can I expect for the second dose?

If you had side effects from the first dose, will you have them again for the second? Will they be milder, worse or will there be new ones?

Dr. Davidicus Wong, a family physician in Vancouver and Burnaby, told Vancouver Is Awesome that the main thing is to expect side effects. 

"Sometimes its fever or tiredness for a few days — flu-like symptoms — this can be quite normal," he said. "So obviously getting enough rest and not really working out too much the next day." 

It won't do any harm to take acetaminophen prior to getting the vaccine, either. Wong said that physicians often give it to children prior to getting other vaccines. "We give them acetaminophen about half an hour before getting a vaccine because it reduces the fever afterward," he explained.

That said, taking acetaminophen following the vaccine will also help if you develop flu-like symptoms afterward. 

Will rotating your arm help to reduce the pain where the vaccine was injected?

"It shouldn't cause any problems but it won't necessarily help anything," he noted. "But it is a good distracting measure."

As long as it isn't a serious pain, Wong said distractions such as television and other activities may take your mind off muscle aches or mild pain. 

Are there things to avoid before getting the second dose?

"You probably wouldn't want to go in intoxicated or shortly after consuming alcohol," underscored Wong. "But you also want to go in well-rested and no symptoms of any other infections."

People should also space out other injections that they may be scheduled to get from their doctor.

UBC professor Dr. Anny Blakney on TikTok  

In an effort to dispel harmful beliefs about COVID-19, UBC professor Dr. Anny Blakney uses TikTok to provide correct information about everything from vaccines to transmission and beyond. 

Check out some of her viral videos and helpful information online.