Cedars-Sinai Blog

The COVID-19 Vaccine: 9 Tips for a Smooth Experience

When COVID-19 first hit, most people didn't know what to expect. As the pandemic dragged on, bringing grief, lockdowns and loss, modern medicine delivered a beam of light: safe and effective vaccines in record time, an achievement that's been compared to the moon landing.

If you're like many Americans, you've been patiently waiting your turn, and you can look forward to getting immunized in the coming months. Once you have your appointment, follow Cedars-Sinai's nine tips to ensure you have a smooth experience with the COVID-19 vaccine.


Priya Soni, MD

1. Information ahead of time. The staff at the vaccine site are going to be working quickly and efficiently, delivering the lifesaving shot to as many people as possible. Surveys tell us that most Americans want to get immunized against COVID-19, and this is the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. You may have to wait in line, even with an appointment. That means there won't be time to ask lots of questions when you get there. Educate yourself beforehand. You'll find clear answers about the COVID-19 vaccines here, including a video message from infectious disease specialist Priya Soni, MD. Cedars-Sinai also recommends the CDC's Vaccine FAQs page.

2. Food and medications. Most people have only minor side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines, and many don't have any at all. If you do get a fever, pain at the injection site, headache and chills the next day, you may not feel like going to the store. Stock up so you have everything you need at home for a day or two. That includes food and any prescriptions you usually take, as well as over-the-counter meds such as Tylenol or Advil. Don't take those painkillers just before getting your shot, though, since there's a small chance they could interfere with your body's immune response. If in doubt, check with your doctor.


3. A good mask. You'll have to get close to the person who is vaccinating you even if you're going to a drive-up site. If you're on foot, it can be tricky to keep the recommended distance of 6 feet from other people. Either way you'll be required to wear a mask—even if the clinic is outdoors. Better yet, layer a fabric mask on top of a surgical mask, like the CDC recommends. That's especially wise if you're going to an indoor site. Make sure your mask is fitted well and goes across the bridge of your nose. Do not wear just a scarf or bandana.

4. The right clothing. You don't want to be struggling with a complicated shirt when you show up for the jab. Wear a sleeveless or short-sleeved top. Comfy shoes are good too in case you end up standing or walking.


5. A state-issued photo ID that includes your birthdate. If your ID doesn't show your address, also bring proof of residency in L.A. County, such as a utility bill. The county website has a list of acceptable documents.

6. A copy of your appointment confirmation and any other documentation that's required. We don't yet know what documents will be needed to prove you're eligible for the vaccine based on a high-risk health category, as defined by government agencies. If this applies to you, make sure you obtain the right paperwork once the county clarifies, and don't forget to bring it with you to your appointment.

7. A hat and water if you're going to an outdoor site. A hat is important to protect you from the sun. Don't forget water if you're going to be sitting in your car for a while or might have to wait outside when it's hot.


8. To get some rest the night before. You don't want to feel groggy or worn out when you arrive at the vaccination site.

9. To get some rest the next day, too! Try not to schedule any vigorous activities the day after you get the shot, in case you're feeling under the weather. If you can take a day off from work, this may be a good time to do so. Keep in mind that side effects are more common after the second dose.