5 Ways To Prepare for Your COVID-19 Vaccination

inundated with vaccine info online

Nusha Ashjaee / Verywell

Key Takeaways

  • President Joe Biden has vowed to administer 100 million doses of the COVID-19 in his first 100 days in office.
  • FEMA will be in charge of operating mass vaccination sites.
  • Check your state and county public health websites to find out when you will be eligible to receive a vaccine.

President Biden has announced his goal to vaccinate 100 million people within his first 100 days in office. However, the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be a logistical challenge nationwide and many people remain confused about when they will be eligible to receive the free vaccine.

The White House released a robust plan of action on combating the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the first goals is to get more shots administered by simplifying and strengthening the vaccine allocation plan among states, counties, and tribal and territorial governments.

Biden COVID-19 Vaccine Plan

  • Investing $25 billion dollars in a manufacturing and distribution plan
  • Ensuring the availability of safe, effective vaccines for the American public
  • Accelerating getting shots into arms and get vaccines to the communities that need them most
  • Creating as many venues as needed for people to be vaccinated
  • Focusing on hard-to-reach and high-risk populations
  • Fairly compensating providers, states, and local governments for the cost of administering vaccinations
  • Driving equity throughout the vaccination campaign and broader pandemic response
  • Launching a national vaccinations public education campaign
  • Bolstering data systems and transparency for vaccination
  • Monitoring vaccine safety and efficacy
  • Surging the healthcare workforce to support the vaccination effort

5 Ways To Prepare Before Your COVID-19 Vaccine

As the federal government's plan gets up and running, here are five ways you can work on getting ready before it’s your turn to receive your COVID-19 vaccination.

Talk To Your Provider

Many primary care physicians and hospital systems have set up vaccination information on their websites to inform patients about when they'll be eligible and how they can make an appointment.

For example, the Sutter Health Network in California has set up a comprehensive website where patients can schedule a vaccination appointment either by phone or online, as well as get information on the eligibility tier they are in.

Register and frequently check your healthcare provider's or medical network’s website to ensure you get the most up-to-date information about vaccine availability.

Your doctor is also a great resource if you have questions about any underlying medical conditions you have or particular items in your medical history that might contradict getting the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided a web page to help physicians and individuals determine when it is safe to administer and receive the vaccine.

Bookmark Your County’s Public Health Website

To remain transparent, public health agencies have been tasked with generating vaccination allocation dashboards to keep residents current on the status of vaccine distribution efforts.

Many state and county decision-makers are using the Vaccine Allocation Planner for COVID-19 as a template and guide to determine priority population numbers and doses needed to get shots into the arms of its citizens. 

For example, The Los Angeles County Public Health Department has created a robust information system and dashboard that shares tier information, vaccine-specific data, and a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions. 

Checking your local public health website and dashboard frequently will keep you informed about which populations are able to receive the vaccine, tier timelines, and how to make an appointment when it is your turn. 

Find Vaccine Locations Near You

Many cities across the country are starting to partner with large venues (such as arenas, sports stadiums, amusement parks, malls, and other large-capacity facilities) to transform them into mass vaccination sites.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has plans to set up 100 federally run mass vaccination sites within the next month. 

Check your state and county COVID-19 websites for information on approved vaccination sites in your area. Be prepared to make an appointment, gather required documentation, and understand that there is a large possibility you will have to wait in a long line to receive both your first and second vaccination doses. 

Plan Ahead for Your Second Dose

Timelines for when you should receive your second COVID-19 dose differs between the two manufacturers:

  • For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: 3 weeks (or 21 days) after your first shot
  • For the Moderna vaccine: 1 month (or 28 days) after your first shot

You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible. The CDC now says the two doses can be spaced up to six weeks apart. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

Understand the Side Effects

Historically, there have been side effects associated with all types of vaccinations. Most are expected, mild, and go away on their own. According to the CDC, there are a few known side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine you should be aware of.

Possible side effects of the vaccine include:

  • Pain and swelling on the arm where you received your shot
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Headache

Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine are usually mild and should subside within 24 hours of getting your shot. However, the CDC recommends calling your provider:

  • If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours
  • If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days

Stay Healthy 

Since it is not advised to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when you are sick, staying healthy is one of the most important actions you can take to prepare for getting your vaccination. 

Following current COVID-19 guidelines is the best way to remain healthy while you wait to receive your shot. To protect yourself and others, the CDC recommends:

  • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Staying at least 6 feet away from others
  • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
  • Washing your hands properly and often

On the days leading up to your vaccination appointment, you can take some actions to help minimize common side effects.

“Be well rested and well hydrated," Bill Messer, MD, PhD, assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and medicine (infectious diseases) at the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine, tells Verywell. "I suggest avoiding alcohol the day before, day of, and day after vaccination. Tylenol for discomfort and fever. If you can plan a light day of work the day of and the day after, that will also help in case of more severe reactions.”

What This Means For You

The Biden-Harris Administration has pledged to administer 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first 100 days President Biden is in office. While you wait for your turn, there are several things you can do to prepare. Stay up-to-date with your state's public health website to make sure you when and where you can get a vaccine and continue to take precautions to avoid getting sick.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The White House. The Biden-Harris plan to beat COVID-19.

  2. The White House. National strategy for the COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness.

  3. The Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA supports vaccine distribution: COVID-19 response update.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to protect yourself & others.

Additional Reading

By Amy Isler, RN, MSN, CSN
Amy Isler, RN, MSN, CSN, is a registered nurse with over six years of patient experience. She is a credentialed school nurse in California.