This is it, folks. Time to roll up your sleeves.
Gov. Hutchinson announced today that all Arkansans ages 16 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, effective immediately.
If tracking down a vaccine seems daunting, never fear. The Arkansas Department of Health created a map of vaccination locations, complete with a full breakdown of counties, cities, clinics, phone numbers and websites. All you have to do is schedule an appointment.
Ok, now that you're scheduled, let's run through a few things to remember before you get your shot.
At your appointment:
- Bring your ID. (Your provider may also ask you to bring an insurance card.)
- Wear a mask.
- Wear sleeves that are easily accessible — i.e. tank tops, short sleeves or the stylish cold shoulder route a la Dolly Parton.
- Hold on to the vaccination card they give you. You'll need it for the next dose.
- Stick around for at least 15 minutes to make sure you don't have a reaction to the vaccine.
Common side effects:
At the injection site - pain, redness, swelling
To reduce discomfort, apply a cool, wet washcloth to the area or use/exercise your arm.
Throughout the body - tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, nausea
To reduce discomfort, drink plenty of fluids and dress in lightweight clothing.
Many report stronger side effects after their second dose, but that's a good sign. It means your body is taking the "threat" seriously and building protection against the virus. It does not mean the shot gave you COVID-19. These vaccines do not contain live strains of the virus. See more myths and FAQs on how the vaccine works here.
Side effects should go away within a few days, but contact your doctor if:
- redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours
- you're worried about side effects or they don't seem to be going away after a few days
A few reminders from the CDC:
- No, you're not fully vaccinated until two weeks after your final shot (aka the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna, or single dose of Johnson & Johnson). It takes a bit for your body to adjust and become fully protected, so keep masking up in the meantime.
- Yes, you can still get COVID-19 once you're fully vaccinated. The vaccine's job is to protect against serious illness and death, but it's still possible to contract the virus and experience symptoms.
- Yes, you should still get vaccinated even if you're low-risk or if you've had COVID-19, especially as new, potentially more dangerous variants are discovered.
- Yes, you're allowed to lift some restrictions once fully vaccinated, but no, it's not a free-for-all just yet. Click here for a full breakdown of CDC guidelines on how to live your best vaccinated life.
One last note: If you're one of the many who feel a twinge of guilt at getting a vaccine before someone else, experts say to take a deep breath and let it go. As an eligible adult, a shot in your arm not only protects you, but everyone around you and everyone around them. Do your part, get your shot and help others get theirs, too.