Woman preparing COVID Vaccine Shot

Finding answers to your questions before you get the COVID vaccine is key to preparing yourself for this potentially lifesaving step.

Whether you have questions about whether you should be vaccinated or how to prepare for your COVID shot, the experts at University of Maryland Medical Systems (UMMS) have answers.

Learn more about:

  • Who is eligible now
  • Who should not get the COVID vaccine
  • What will happen at your vaccination appointment

Who Can and Cannot Get the COVID Vaccine?

Whether you already have an appointment to be vaccinated or are making plans to sign up, it's a good idea to do a health inventory to get you ready to be vaccinated.

Who Is Eligible Now?

The State of Maryland has outlined the order in which different groups of people will be eligible for vaccination. First, see if you are currently eligible to get the vaccine.

Who Cannot Get the Vaccine?

The vast majority of people will be able to get the vaccine when it's their turn and they are eligible. This includes people who have had COVID-19, although they may have to temporarily delay vaccination in some circumstances (described below).

However, you cannot get the COVID vaccine if you:

  • Are allergic to any ingredients in either vaccine. (See the ingredients in Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.)
  • Had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to your first COVID-19 vaccine
  • Are under the age of 18 for the Moderna vaccine
  • Are under the age of 16 for the Pfizer vaccine

Note: The vaccines currently are being studied in children. When more data is available, the Food and Drug Administration will decide if the vaccines should be authorized for children.

When choosing your vaccination date, it is important to know that you temporarily cannot get the vaccine if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the 10 days before your appointment
  • Have COVID at the time of your appointment or are quarantining because of exposure to the virus
  • Have gotten another vaccine (for example, shingles, pneumonia or the flu) 14 days before your appointment, or if you plan to get one in the 14 days after your appointment
  • Have been treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibody therapy or convalescent plasma therapy in the 90 days before your appointment
  • Are sick with a fever or acute illness

Who May Be Able to Get the Vaccine After Talking to Their Doctor?

Once you know you are eligible for the vaccine, make an appointment with your primary care provider if you:

  • Are taking blood thinners or have a bleeding problem
  • Have a weak immune system or take medication that affects your immune system, including people who are getting cancer treatments or have sickle cell disease
  • Are pregnant, planning on getting pregnant or are breastfeeding
  • Have a history of allergies, especially if you carry an EpiPen

People With Allergies

If you have a history of allergies, you should make an appointment with your primary care provider or an allergist to discuss the vaccine.

If you have a history of a severe allergic reaction to another vaccine or injectable therapy, the vaccination team will not let you get the COVID vaccine if you have not received the okay from your doctor.

If you have a history of food, pet, insect, venom, environment, latex and other allergies — not related to vaccines or injectable therapies — you may proceed with vaccination but still may want to consult your doctor first.

Your doctor will also help you determine if you are allergic to any component of either vaccine.

Still wondering if you should get the vaccine?

You may also want to review the myths and facts of the COVID vaccine in case there is anything you want to discuss in more detail with your health care provider.

If you wonder if you should get the COVID vaccine, learn more about the current vaccines and how effective they are even against variant strains.

Getting Ready for Your Shot

If you happen to get COVID before your appointment, follow the 10-day timeline and reschedule your appointment. To get the full effect of the vaccine, you'll need to be COVID-free. If you feel sick the day of the shot, please reschedule.

At UMMS, you are the only one allowed in the vaccination location with two exceptions:

  • People with a disability may bring one designated support person
  • Individuals who are 16 or 17 years old (receiving the Pfizer vaccine) must have a parent with them

The support person or parent/guardian must wear a mask at all times.

Before you leave for your vaccination, make sure you:

  • Eat a snack or meal and drink plenty of water so that you will feel comfortable and hydrated
  • Wear a short-sleeved shirt
  • Wear a mask
  • Are prepared to make a second appointment in the next 3 to 4 weeks, depending on which shot you get
  • Are prepared to answer questions about your medical history, including health issues and allergies
  • Bring your EpiPen, if you are prescribed one

Plan to be at the vaccination site for at least 1 hour, not including travel time and time to park. Please don't arrive more than 15 minutes before your appointment.

Finally, feel good that you are helping yourself and the community stay safe. Getting the vaccine offers all of us the best way to fight COVID-19.

Updated 2/11/2021

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