In response to the recent coronavirus pandemic, a vaccination has been developed and made available to the majority of Americans—giving people greater peace of mind that life can return to some semblance of normality.

To date, roughly 52% of Americans have already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you’re also considering getting the vaccine in the coming days, here are 11 things you should do before, during, and following your vaccination.

1. Do your research

If you’re still deliberating as to whether or not getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the right choice for you, be sure to do your research and discuss any concerns with your primary physician.

Inherently, no vaccine is entirely risk-free. There are potential side effects, problems, and injuries associated with the vaccine that have already been observed and documented.

With this said, not everything you hear is true. It should be noted that there are also plenty of myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. Be sure to carefully separate fact from fiction when making your decision.

2. Book an appointment

After determining that you want to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, you’ll need to book an appointment for your first dose. As this vaccine is free for all Americans, you can choose any vaccine location near you.

One of the best places to book an appointment is at your local pharmacy. You can also contact your state health department to find alternate locations near you. Occasionally, vaccine centers will offer walk-in vaccinations.

Once you have a date and time, mark your calendar and prepare for your upcoming appointment!

3. Gather any required documentation

One of the easiest ways to get turned away when you show up for your vaccination is to leave all required documentation at home.

Before you leave for your appointment, make sure you check the requirements for both your vaccine center and your state. In most cases, you will at least be required to bring proof of your identity and proof that you live in the area where you are being vaccinated.

4. Aim to arrive at your appointment early

It’s recommended that you plan to arrive at your vaccine center roughly 10 – 15 minutes before your appointment, as failing to arrive on time might cause you to lose your appointment.

Double-check the date and time of your appointment. Additionally, make sure you know the exact location and entrance of your vaccine center.

If you tend to be late for appointments, you might even consider packing the essentials the night before—such as your documentation, facemask, and water—so that you’re not rushing to leave your home on time.

5. Wear your face mask

Remember, the general COVID-19 guidelines that have been required for the past year still apply to non-vaccinated individuals. Up until the moment you receive your vaccination, this includes you!

Both you and your healthcare provider will be required to wear face masks. Make sure you pack yours the night before your appointment. Additionally, you’ll need to make sure you keep at least six feet of distance between yourselves and other parties at all times.

6. Avoid taking pain relief medications

While you may be tempted to take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever to treat everyday aches and pains, the majority of experts recommend that you avoid taking these types of medications immediately before you receive your COVID-19 vaccine.

A study from the Journal of Virology found that ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications might reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. As the vaccine is designed to help your body create antibodies needed to combat the COVID-19 virus, taking these medications can easily interfere with that process.

7. Drink plenty of water

It’s always a good idea to monitor your water intake and ensure that you’re drinking enough each day, but it’s especially important to stay hydrated both before and after your vaccination. After being vaccinated, you might find that drinking plenty of water eases certain symptoms.

Failing to drink enough water, on the other hand, may cause you to feel dehydrated; and these new symptoms will only exacerbate any side effects you experience from the vaccine.

8. Wear the right clothing

When preparing to receive the vaccine, it’s important that you dress sensibly so as not to make things difficult for your healthcare provider and hold up the line of people who are also waiting to be vaccinated.

Think twice before wearing tight or restrictive clothing, sweaters, or hoodies. Rather, consider wearing short sleeves or loose clothing so that your healthcare provider can access the upper area of your non-dominant arm and administer your vaccination with little hassle.

9. Monitor any side effects

To date, the COVID-19 vaccine has infamously yielded a wide range of possible side effects.

Of course, at the site of the injection, you may experience pain, swelling, and redness. Throughout the body, you might experience nausea, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, or chills.

If symptoms persist in the weeks or months following your vaccination, or if your symptoms seem related to an underlying health condition, be sure to consult your primary physician.

10. Treat symptoms as needed

While you shouldn’t take pain relievers immediately before you are vaccinated, you can take these medications to help relieve certain side effects after you have been vaccinated.

To manage pain at the site of the injection, you might also choose to apply a cold, wet washcloth on your upper arm. Recovery from other side effects will likely require plenty of water and rest.

11. Comply with CDC guidelines

The CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines are constantly evolving as more people receive the vaccine and the virus becomes less of a threat.

After you receive your vaccine, be sure to review the CDC’s most current guidelines. Recently, an updated set of guidelines was been released for those who have been fully vaccinated.

As it currently stands, vaccinated people in non-healthcare settings can resume most activities without wearing masks. They are also not required to test before and after travel, or self-quarantine after an exposure—as long as they are asymptomatic, of course.