As summer approaches, COVID-19 vaccine eligibility has expanded to anyone in the United States 16 years of age and older. So now that eligibility has been granted, what does this mean for international students and what should you do now?
There has been a lot of discussion and ambiguity around how much vaccines cost and who is eligible, but the good news is that more time has allowed for further clarification, and it’s all positive! This is great news for international students currently residing in the United States and for the country as a whole, as anyone residing in the US, foreign nationals included, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even better, it’s completely free regardless of whether or not your insurance covers it!
Where to sign up
The CDC, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, lists several ways for you to easily sign up to schedule your appointment! Visiting Vaccines.gov is a great place to start, as you can locate vaccination providers within your vicinity by typing in your zip code and selecting the type of vaccine you wish to receive. You also have the option to text the zip code in which you wish to receive your vaccine to 1-800-232-0233, or you can also speak to someone over the phone by calling the same number to assist in finding a vaccine administration site near you.
Scheduling your appointment
Just as easy as it is to sign up, scheduling your appointment takes little effort. Whether you are getting vaccinated at a pharmacy, doctor’s office or larger vaccine location, you can most likely schedule your appointment online or over the phone and choose a time that works best for you. Depending on what you opt in for, you will receive a confirmation of your appointment and reminders via email, phone or text.
What to expect when you arrive
When arriving for your appointment, you can expect to be kept at 6 foot distance between you and others, and you will be asked to wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth. You will receive information about the type of vaccine you are receiving and schedule your second vaccination appointment if you have opted for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. After you receive your vaccine, you will have your vaccination card filled out by your provider or staff member, that you will want to keep in a safe place to show that you have been vaccinated. If you are receiving a second vaccine, you will need to bring this card to your next appointment.
After your injection, you will then be monitored and required to wait 15 minutes before leaving to ensure that you do not have any major side effects or health issues. If you’re lucky, there might even be stickers or buttons being given away as you leave showing that you have been vaccinated! Hooray!
You’re vaccinated! Now what?
To be considered fully vaccinated, it must be two weeks from the time in which you had your second vaccine if you received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna and two weeks from a one shot vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Upon receiving your vaccine, you may notice some side effects while others may not have any. This is considered perfectly normal as your immune system is building up tolerance to the virus. Common side effects include soreness, reddening, or swelling of the arm from where the vaccine was injected and throughout your body you may feel tired and experience head and body aches, muscle pain, nausea or chills. You can expect this to subside within a few hours to a few days.
Being fully vaccinated is a liberating feeling! You can begin to do things you maybe haven’t done since before the pandemic, such as socializing with friends and family that have also been vaccinated without masks or distancing. However, it’s important to continue to take precautions and continue to follow public guidelines as we still have much to learn. You can learn more by visiting the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention with detailed information on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.