2020 was a complete shift for all of us and this coronavirus epidemic has definitely rocked the travel community to the core. From the immediate halt of all travel  in the first quarter of last year to now where people are aching to get away and embrace this new normal we are all having to adjust to. Here in the states the COVID vaccine has been met with mixed feelings and I have know plans on jumping into the “if you should or should not get the vaccine” convo’s I have been seeing floating the internet. This post is to give you everything you need to know about the vaccine and also provide you with resources as to where to look for getting appointments. Truth is this virus like it’s predecessor’s hits each person differently. There is a population that is more vulnerable and susceptible to the worse outcomes and I feel that many of us are empathetic to their plight because they include our loved ones. Furthermore, many of you will find that COVID testing is required upon entry and exit of any country you visit that has it’s borders open. The vaccine can be a another layer of protection to help prevent you from getting the virus.  So let’s hop on into it.

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Current vaccines types available

There are currently three types of vaccines available to the public. Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, & Moderna.

Johnson & Johnson (aka J&J)

This viral vector vaccine is the only one dose vaccine currently available and it’s highly sought after for it’s one and done convenience. During clinical trials it was found to be 66.3% effective at preventing COVID-19. This one is given in the muscle of your upper arm. Does not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex. It is recommended by the Center for Disease Control for person’s 18 years and older. It is NOT recommended if you have ever had an immediate or severe allergic reaction. For example: hives, swelling, or wheezing like respiratory distress.

Most common side effects include pain, redness, swelling in the arm that was used for the vaccination. You may also experience tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. Any side effects are normally felt within one or two days of receiving the vaccine.

Pfizer-BioNTech

This mRNA vaccine requires 2 doses at about 21 days apart. The shot is also given in the muscle of your upper arm. It does not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex. It is recommended by the CDC for person 16 or older. It is not recommended if you have had any sort of allergic reaction in the past. If you have an allergic reaction after the first does it is not recommended to get the second dose of any mRNA vaccine. Reaction examples include hives, swelling, and respiratory distress such as wheezing.  You may also experience tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. Any side effects are normally felt within one or two days of receiving the vaccine.

In trials side effects like fever, chills, or tiredness and headache were more common after the second dose. Pfizer was found to be 95% effective during trials.

Moderna

This mRNA vaccine requires 2 doses 28 days apart. This shot is also given in the muscle of your upper arm. It does not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex. It is recommended by the CDC for persons 18 years and older. It is not recommended if you have had any sort of allergic reaction in the past. If you have an allergic  reaction after the first does it is not recommended to get the second dose of any mRNA vaccine. Reaction examples include hives, swelling, and respiratory distress such as wheezing.  You may also experience tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. Any side effects are normally felt within one or two days of receiving the vaccine.

In trials side effects like fever, chills, or tiredness and headache were more common after the second dose. Pfizer was found to be 95% effective during trials.

In addition, during trials Moderna was found to 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19.

Click here to be taken to the CDC’s website and the most up to date information about each vaccine.

How To Get The Vaccine

So you are probably trying to figure out how do you get XXX vaccine and that may be a bit harder than you were expecting it to be. For one, everyone cannot just go and get the vaccine because every state within the US has different guidelines. Most follow a protocol of several phases with each phase including more and more people. The initial phases have been reserved for the most vulnerable or high risk population and medical personnel who come into contact the with COVID the most. If you are in included in any of the current phases and you have gotten the vaccine consider yourself lucky. There are so many thousands of people across this nation who have not gotten the vaccine that are still searching everyday for appointments. The reality is even with the number of places offering the vaccine at no cost to patients there are still way more people needing the vaccine than there are appointments available. And it’s interesting as I have insider knowledge on the process and availability and I can tell you guys for a fact that subsequential phases are rolling out when the primary phases have not even come close to getting their doses. This is creating not only angst in those that have been trying for weeks but also it has been overwhelming an already stressful situation. So let’s hop into where to start to look for appointments.

Personally I have been a little appalled at the confusing amount of information that is out there in regard to this topic and it is part of what prompted me to do my homework and get a clear outline any American can use to locating and making a COVID vaccine appointment. First check with your local health department. Each state and county has one and they are your local resource to who i offering the vaccine and how to contact them. Check your online resources. Now, I know this is difficult for the older generation and you have my greatest sympathy as I know many of you are not technologically savvy but this is a scenario where a phone call is not the most efficient option. Why? Everyone is calling. So everywhere is swamped and anyone who has tried to call to get information on making an appointment already knows what I am stating are facts. You need to start online and read your health departments guidelines for your area. If you have someone you know that needs the vaccine step up and help them. This is hard and we can’t take for granted that because it’s so easy to us that it is for others. Do your part.

Here is a link to every state health department.

State & Territorial Health Department <<<Click Here<<<

What you will find is each location has right on the home page a link or button for more information on the COVID-19 vaccine. The image below is Georgia which I used since I live here.

There are a number of places offering the vaccine including Walgreens & CVS. Each image below are direct links to their website and the page you need to search for appointments. Click the image to be taken to the appointment scheduling page.

Vaccine Finder is another great resource to finding locations near you offering the vaccine.

Click here to be taken to VaccineFinder.org

What To Expect
  • Expect to answer a number of health related questions. Most places are following state regulations for eligibility which is why it’s important you read what phase is currently active in your area on the health departments website beforehand.
  • If you answer anything that indicates you are not  a candidate you will not be offered an opportunity to book an appointment.
  • If you do get to the appointment screen and you see appointments available (many don’t) then be quick. People miss appointments huffing about how far the location is that is available but this is simple supply and demand. And I don’t mean to be harsh but I have seen it with my own eyes. Person sees appointment, persons google’s location and is disapointed because they wanted to go to their local store, person refreshes hoping that something closer will open up, and finally person is upset cause now that one appointment they saw an hour away is gone. This scene repeats itself continually especially in heavily populated locations like New York, New Jersey, and California.
  • Make the appointment. Meaning click each button until the last screen. You should receive a confirmation number with the date and time of your vaccine. If you added a email you should receive that as well. But don’t rely on only that. Copy the confirmation that comes on your screen.
  • Don’t expect to get a specific vaccine. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if you have your heart set on J&J or any specific vaccine that may not happen. Most places are going to offer what they have. Most of this is due simply to supply.
  • You have a right to refuse the vaccine if it’s not the one you wanted. If you do get to your appointment and you are adamant you only want a specific manufacturer then you are within your rights to refuse the vaccine. Don’t feel you have to take it because it’s all they have. Do understand you probably will have to re-schedule and try again for next time.
  • The news can be confusing. You aren’t the only one confused as to why the news keeps saying there are appointments available but then you call or search and it’s nothing available. Their job is to inform but they may not have the exact numbers in your area.

If you have been searching and not having any luck you are not alone. Stay patient and be consistent. Appointments open up all the time but understand at this time there are so many people looking to get the vaccine that the appointments go very quickly. Also understand that for the 2 dose vaccines that means that is 2 dates that need to be filled in order to be fully vaccinated. Things will ease up and I know many people have not seen their loved ones in person in over a year now; myself included. But we must be patient as each day others are vaccinated gets us closer to the day that we too can be vaccinated. If you are in a group that is not high risk, while I know this is not what you want to hear, wait and allow those high risk to get theirs first. You know who you are and that you can wait and I’d like you to take a moment to imagine if you grandparents has been trying and trying with no luck and then someone goes and books their appointment knowing they are not high risk. Compassion goes a long long way these days.

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The COVID Vaccine as it relates to travel

I wanted to end this post speaking about the COVID vaccines and the travel community. Many of us have seen flights at unbelievably low prices due to the pandemic. And we also have witnessed the rise of prices as places open up. Some places are requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID testing results before you can visit. Your local health department will have resources on where to get the test which you will probably find easier than getting the shot at the time of writing this post. Take note of if appointments need to be made in advance and how recent the test needs to be before you leave. Places like Iceland are offering COVID vaccination certificates that allow people to avoid mandatory quarantine.

Traveling after vaccination does not automatically mean you are in the clear. The vaccine takes a full week in most cases to be effective and government regulations still need to be adhered to. The vaccine will not make you sick nor will it make you test positive on a COVID test. It is still unknown whether a vaccinated person can pass the virus to someone else. Which brings us to, does a vaccinated person need to quarantine after being exposed to an infected person? The CDC says no as long as the following is included. One, you are fully vaccinated. Two, you are within 3 months of receiving the last dose. And three, you have been asymptomatic (have not shown any symptoms) since exposure to the infected person.

Now if you are going somewhere that has not begun to vaccinate or is also in the beginning phases then you need to be aware of the following. A mask is still needed when you are out and about, social distancing should also be implemented, and hand washing and sanitizer are your best friends.

There have been talks of health passports but until that is official just stay vigilant and be mindful of your activities. You can read more about that by clicking this link to the recent NY Times article.

All in all guys, listen this is new and with anything new there will be changes and developments to make the process easier and more efficient. As advanced as we are as a human race we are also still very primitive and this whole situation is a great reminder of that. Be kind. Be helpful. Stay informed.

I’d loved to hear if you have gotten an appointment yet in the comments below let me know what your experience was like.

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