Public Health

What Does It Feel Like To Get The COVID Vaccine? Real People Share Their Experiences

Mira Research Team09 Feb 2021

Quick Digest: 

  • Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines require two dosages, spaced 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Receiving the vaccination should not be painful and most people have experienced only mild side effects. See quotes below from people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine and their experiences,
  • While the government is covering the cost of the Covid-19 vaccine, it is possible to be charged for the administration of the vaccine.

We interviewed medical professionals and individuals who already received the Covid-19 vaccine for this article. 

The Current Available Covid-19 Vaccines Require 2 Shots 

There are currently two Covid-19 vaccines that have been authorized by the FDA. These vaccines were produced by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. Both of these vaccines require you to get two shots. 

The second dose of the Pfizer vaccines must be taken after 3 weeks and the second dose of the Moderna vaccine must be taken after 4 weeks. 

Dr. Ramin Ahmadi, MD, MPH, explains that “while it is possible to become immune after one dose, the second dose ensures that the body has developed the necessary immunity for increased efficacy.” 

Your body should develop full immunity within two weeks of receiving the second dose of the vaccine. Your second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine should be the same brand as the first dose you receive. 

You Will Receive A Vaccination Card After Getting Your First COVID-19 Dose

After getting the Covid-19 vaccine, you will receive a vaccination card stating that you received your first dose of the vaccine. The card will also tell you when you need to return to receive your second dose. 

These cards serve as a good reminder of when to come back for your second dose as well as proof that you have been vaccinated. Showing this card or another medical record may eventually be required to return to work or travel internationally. 

The Vaccine Injection Should Not Be Very Painful 

Covid-19 vaccines are administered through an intramuscular injection, which is a shot in your arm. Getting this shot should feel like the flu shot or any other vaccination.

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Katherine Dolan, a scribe at the University of Virginia Emergency Department, explains “it didn’t hurt much! Just your typical prick from a shot. I did not experience any burning sensations while it was being injected. I was surprised that it didn’t hurt more!

Most Side Effects Of The Vaccine Should Be Mild; Here's What It Feels Like

Some recipients of the Covid-19 vaccines experienced mild side effects. Side effects are a normal part of getting vaccinated. 

Other vaccines, such as the MMR shot, may elicit side effects as well. Dr. Ahmadi notes that “every good vaccine stimulates the immune system. During the course of this stimulation, some inflammatory substances are released in the body and cause symptoms like aches, fatigue, or fever.”

The most common side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine include tiredness, pain at the site of injection, chills, muscle pain, joint pain, and fever. It is possible to experience these symptoms after either dose; however, it is more common to experience them after the second dose. 

Katherine did not experience many effects from the vaccine and explained: “I felt completely fine that same day, not even fatigued. The day after, I felt a little more tired than usual but nothing too significant that I had to change my plans for the day. Aside from a little fatigue, I did not experience any side effects or feel limited in any way.” 

Mike Gnitecki, Firefighter & Paramedic in Texas, also experienced very minimal side effects: “I had upper arm pain beginning around 10 hours after I got the shot, and the arm pain lasted for about 12-16 hours and then stopped. I did not experience any other symptoms.” Gnitecki received his first vaccine dose three weeks ago.

Jamie Hickey, who works at a retirement home, experienced more noticeable side effects. She reported that “the day after the shot, my arm was very sore and I had a headache coupled with slight stomach cramps. These symptoms lasted for a couple of days then they diminished.” 

You May Be Charged Administrative Fees for the Covid-19 Vaccine 

It was announced by federal officials that nobody will need to pay for the Covid-19 vaccine, regardless of insurance status. However, it is possible to be charged administration fees depending on where you get vaccinated. 

We estimate that these fees can range from $16 - $29 per dose

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In addition, once the pandemic is over, the federal government may no longer cover the cost of the vaccine. 

If this occurs, most insurance companies would likely cover vaccination, but individuals without insurance may need to pay to get the Covid-19 vaccine. 

You Should Continue To Wear a Mask After Getting the Covid-19 Vaccine 

The first dose of your vaccine will not offer you complete protection from Covid-19; therefore, it is possible to contract Covid between your first and second dose. 

Even after getting your second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, it is important to wear a mask to protect others, since not everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away. 

Mask wearing will likely decrease once we achieve herd immunity in the United States, but will not go away completely. 

Dr. Jesse Pelletier, MD, FACS, a practicing eye surgeon and Head of Infection Control at two medical institutions in Miami and the President and co-founder of Halodine, explains that “the newly learned behaviors that directly address infection control during this pandemic such as masks, distancing and handwashing will continue with us for years especially during the fall and winter when upper respiratory viruses are naturally ascendant.” 



Other Notes:

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?