By Alexandra Becker
With vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson now approved under Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an increasing number of Texans now have the opportunity to become vaccinated against COVID-19. Although the State of Texas is currently recommending that available doses are prioritized for individuals who fall into certain categories, on May 1, 2021, the vaccines will be made available to every adult in the U.S.
So, what should you do to prepare for your vaccine?
First, sign up for an appointment.
“Right now, Texas is making vaccines available to healthcare workers, teachers, childcare workers, individuals age 50 or older, and any adult with certain underlying health conditions,” said Dr. Deepti Mishra, an internal medicine specialist who also serves as Chief Medical Officer for Memorial Hermann Medical Group. “If you fall into any of these categories, you can go ahead and sign up for an appointment.”
Memorial Hermann has set up a vaccine request form, where eligible members of the community can register for the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a Memorial Hermann vaccination clinic. Registered individuals who meet the eligibility requirements are then selected at random and notified when appointments are available. The form also has a box for adults who do not yet meet the current requirements set forth by the Texas Department of State Health Services, so anyone who is interested in receiving the vaccine is encouraged to register, as new appointments will open by May 1 for those individuals.
“We created this request form to help reach everyone in the community,” Mishra said. “Luckily, we are not the only ones who are receiving vaccines, so if you have the opportunity to get vaccinated at another hospital or your local pharmacy, we encourage you to do so as soon as an appointment becomes available.”
Mishra said that despite word-of-mouth recommendations to the contrary, people shouldn’t take allergy medicine ahead of their appointments to stave off a possible allergic reaction, since those are extremely rare.
“If you take allergy medicine, or any medicine on a daily basis, you should go ahead and stick to your regular routine,” Mishra said. “But don’t take a Benadryl ahead of your appointment if you’re worried about an allergic reaction to the vaccine. That is incredibly rare and highly unlikely.”
Mishra said she’s also had some patients ask if they can have a drink the night before their vaccine, or if that’s off-limits as well.
“It’s always a good idea to reduce your alcohol intake, but one beer isn’t going to hurt you when it comes the vaccine’s efficacy,” she said.
Mishra noted that anyone who has recently had COVID-19 or received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma therapy should speak with his or her doctor about when they should make an appointment.
“Current recommendations are to wait at least 14 days after you’ve recovered from COVID-19, and that you wait 90 days to get the vaccine at all if you’ve recently received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma,” she said.
Mishra added that people who receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine need to ensure they make a second appointment within the suggested timeframe: three weeks later for Pfizer and four weeks later for Moderna. “The most important thing is to get the vaccine when it becomes available to you. You don’t need to do anything special, just show up, roll up your sleeve, and take a deep breath,” she said. “Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family and your community, and it’s helping all of us as we work to put an end to this pandemic.”