What a year will do, right? This time last year, we had a crazy man for a POTUS while we were just settling into the reality that the pandemic known as COVID-19 was going to change our lives in a very real way. Well, if you're reading this, pat yourself on the back because your resilience caused you to survive both. And now, here we are—a new president and, as of the time of this going to press, three vaccines being available in order to get us back to some sense of normalcy.
If you know that getting a COVID-19 vaccine is probably the best thing to do yet you're still curious about how it will ultimately benefit you, there are three main reported reasons. First, you can start to meet up with other vaccinated individuals without the need for social distancing or wearing a mask (imagine that!). Two, you can travel domestically without the need for testing or quarantining. And finally, you can also feel more confident about spending time around unvaccinated individuals. Basically, you can start seeing your peeps and enjoying having some sort of a social life again.
If that feels good to you yet you've still got a few questions about it all, I get that. After all, these types of vaccines are still new and things are ever-changing. That's why I wanted to do you a solid and provide you with 10 tips to get you physically—and somewhat mentally and emotionally—prepared for your vaccination—so that with a new sense of freedom, you can also have peace of mind.
1. Research the Different Vaccines First
Whew, y'all. It was March 16, 2020 when I wrote "Before You Freak Out: 12 Things To Know About The Coronavirus". A little over a year—and a mind-boggling 554,000 COVID-related deaths—later, we are now at the point where a vaccine is available so that our bodies can begin to develop an immunity to the virus. However, before making an appointment to get vaccinated, it's important that you know as much as possible about the three different kinds that are currently available. There's Moderna. There's Pfizer-BioNTech. And there's Johnson and Johnson's Janssen.
As far as choosing which one is personally best for you, as it stands at the time that I'm writing this, Pfizer-BioNTech is 95 percent effective, Moderna is 94 percent and Johnson and Johnson's Janssen is 66 percent effective (according to CDC clinical trials; it's 85 according to the FDA) at preventing the virus. (As of 4/13/21, Johnson and Johnson has been paused due to six people getting blood clots from the virus.)
Still, you may want to check with your doctor for their insight on which vaccine they feel is actually best for you (by the way, each vaccine is hyperlinked to detailed data about each one of them).
2. Hit Up VaccineFinder.org (or Check with Your Local Pharmacy)
Probably one of the most common questions when it comes to getting vaccinated is where do you go in your local area to get your shot? A website that's pretty helpful is VaccineFinder.org. If you go to its page, it'll ask for your zip code. Then it will provide you a list of different places that are administering the vaccines, along with which brands are available at each location and who currently qualifies for what. Another option is to hit up your local favorite pharmacy to see if they are administering the vaccine of your choice. If they aren't, they should be able to tell you if another one of their pharmacies is. (For the record, you can check with your local health department for this kind of info too.)
3. Boost Your Immunity a Week Beforehand to Getting the Vaccine
It probably comes as no surprise to you that the better state your immune system is in, the more you decrease your chances of experiencing the worst kind of side effects from your vaccination. Some medical experts recommend being intentional about boosting your immunity approximately seven days prior to your first dose of the vaccine and maintaining whatever regimen you created for seven days after as well. If you'd like some quick tips on how to do that, check out "Ready To Try 10 Quick & Easy Immune-Boosting Hacks?" Also, make sure to take a probiotic (it helps to bring "good bacteria" to your gut which is where 80 percent of your immune system resides), to take some zinc and/or eat foods that are high in zinc (it builds up immunity) like hemp or flaxseeds, meat, cashews, eggs and wholegrains, and to get some (extra) amino acids (they assist with fueling your immune system) into your body with the help of turkey, mushrooms, quinoa and fish. And what if exercise is your way of keeping your immune system on-point? That's all good. Just avoid working out two hours prior and following your shot(s). Oh, and try and avoid taking a hot shower during that same period of time (two hours). Some folks have said they had an allergic reaction to their vaccination when they did immediately following it.
4. Mentally Prepare for Possible Side Effects from the Vaccine
The overall purpose of a vaccine is to stimulate your immunity to produce antibodies in a way like you already had the disease. However, this does not mean that getting a vaccine will give you, in this case, COVID-19. That's because none of the vaccine brands that are currently available actually contain the live virus within it.
That said, it's not uncommon to experience some side effects, whether it's after the first or second shot (it seems to be more common with the second shot)—or with both. And what are some of those side effects?
- Pain or swelling where the shot was administered
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
And when does all of this typically go down? On average, around day three after getting vaccinated. That's the bad news. The good news is the symptoms typically subside within 1-2 days after they first kick in. The other good news is it's not a given that you will have some. Still, it's important that you get to know as much about the vaccination process as possible. Also, the person who gives you the shot doesn't typically administer it and immediately send you on your way. They will require you to stay close by for 15-20 minutes, just so they can see if you have an immediate reaction to the shot or not.
5. Avoid Taking Over-the-Counter Meds 48 Hours Prior To
After reading about the potential side effects that you could experience, you might think, "No problem. I'll just take some ibuprofen to head them all off." While that might seem logical, it's actually not the best idea. The reality is, there's just not enough medical data (yet) to reveal what could happen if you did that. On one hand, you might be fine. On another, over-the-counter meds could mess around and throw the immune response of the vaccine way off. So, just to be on the safe side, avoid those medications altogether. Now that I'm thinking about it, this is a stellar reason to not book your vaccination appointment around your period either. Not only are you probably going to feel pretty icky going in but if you rely on Advil, Tylenol, etc. to get you through your discomfort, because of everything that I just said, it's wise to get your vaccine when your cycle is not an issue.
6. Go Easy on Your Allergy Medications
As far as allergies go, being that this is peak allergy season, let me touch on a couple of things. First, so long as you don't have a history of having an allergic reaction to vaccinations or any form of injectable medications, you should be able to get the vaccine. On the other hand, if you do, that is something that you should definitely discuss with your doctor before making your vaccine appointment (you can also get vaccinated if you have an existing health condition, so long as you run that past your physician first too).
And what if you currently take some type of antihistamine or other allergy med? Since there've been some reports of severe allergic reactions to the vaccine brands, you might think that you're protecting yourself by taking your allergy medication before getting your shot. You're not. Not only are they (currently) unlikely to prevent you from having an allergic reaction from the vaccination, they could actually make potential reactions much worse. This is the general medical recommendation. Of course, if you've got specific questions or concerns, speak with your doctor before getting vaccinated.
7. Get No Less than Six Hours of Sleep the Day Before Your Vaccine Shot(s)
Sleep helps our body to rejuvenate itself, so definitely don't decide to stay up all night working on a paper, a project or binge-watch your favorite show to get your mind off of your vaccination appointment the night before. There are already too many people who have shared that not getting proper rest—especially after their second dose of the vaccine—totally wiped them out. So, make sure that you get no less than six hours before each appointment. Also, if you can, try and take a sick or personal day on the day following each shot. The more you rest and take it easy, the better you'll be able to rebound from your vaccination.
8. Do Not Drink 24 Hours Before (and After) Your Appointment
If you hate, even the mere idea of getting a shot, you probably want to drink at least a couple of glasses of red wine before and/or after your appointment. That's understandable. Still, don't do it. What researchers have discovered is that, in some cases, alcohol has had the ability to trigger allergic reactions. While you might think that you are the exception in this case, don't gamble with your health. Avoid alcohol altogether 24 hours before your appointment and 24 hours after you get vaccinated.
9. Know the Timing of When You Should Get Your Second Vaccine Dose
Unless your doctor says otherwise—and until the vaccines further develop—with most vaccine brands, it's recommended that you get two shots in order to be as protected from the virus as possible. Although your healthcare provider and the person administering your vaccine should definitely tell you what I'm about to say, I'm just sharing for safe measure that the Moderna shot is currently available for individuals who are over 18; they will need to take their second shot between 28 days and six weeks after their first dose. As far as the Pfizer-BioNTech goes, currently individuals 16 and over can take it; the second dose can be administered between 21 days and six weeks of the first dose. And Johnson and Johnson's Janssen? It's for those 18 and over. A bonus with it is you only need one dose of it. Make sure to keep up with these dates. Your vaccine is only as effective as the details that come with getting it.
10. Avoid the Following Activities Right After Your Vaccination Shot
Even though you may feel invincible once you get your vaccine, there are a few things that you should avoid doing, until about a week or so following each shot. Definitely don't push yourself to exercise. After sharing the possible side effects that you might feel (especially after that second dose), you may not feel your best. Give your body no less than three days to recover before going full throttle on your workout routine again. If you've been thinking about getting some new ink (you know, a tattoo), because it could potentially trigger an immune response, you should wait about seven days after your second shot before having that done. Another thing that you should definitely avoid doing is booking any other vaccination appointments around your COVID vaccine one(s). Because all three vaccines are still relatively new, you should wait at least two weeks from your second shot before trying to get any other vaccine into your system.
Data is changing every day, so I'm sure there is more happening in the vaccination world as we speak. Still, if you needed a bit of a cheat sheet to get your soul right before getting vaccinated, I hope this helped so that you can get just that much closer to… "normalcy".
For more information and vaccination-related tips, visit CDC.gov. If you want to watch an interview featuring Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a key player in the Moderna vaccine (and a Black woman), click here.
Featured image by Shutterstock
- How to Prepare for Your COVID-19 Vaccine ›
- Before the COVID Vaccine | University of Maryland Medical System ›
- Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine? Here's How To Prepare | Henry ... ›
- How to prepare for your Covid-19 vaccination — advice from Dr. Wen ›
- 9 Ways to Prepare for Your COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment | SELF ›
- Preparing for Your COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood