April 9, 2021: What to Expect After Your Vaccine

Date: April 9, 2021

From: Tom McLarney, MD

Subject: What to Expect After Your Vaccine

To the Wesleyan community:

As previously announced, the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be available—April 24-25—to students at the Vine Street vaccination site, which is managed by our friends from the Community Health Center. 

I am encouraged by the nearly 2,000 students who have already registered and secured an appointment later in April. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe, effective, and keeps people out of the hospital. The vaccinemay cause side effects, which is an indication that our immune system is responding appropriately. The types, level, and duration of side effects can vary from one individual to another and do not indicate the degree of immune response. 

You will most likely experience a sore arm at the injection site, some redness and/or swelling. In addition, you may experience fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, fever, and/or nausea. Sometimes these side effects may prevent you from attending work or classes, but symptoms should resolve in a day or two. Supportive measures such as rest, adequate hydration, a cool compress, Tylenol or Ibuprofen can help.

During this period of campus-wide immunization, we would ask for flexibility for community members who have been vaccinated. Specifically, we request that those who miss a day or two of classes or work not be required to get documentation from a healthcare provider. Because side effects are similar to those that we screen for at the testing site, we recommend that anyone who has had a COVID-19 vaccine within 48 hours and has these symptoms receive a test. This should be safe for everyone so long as all are adhering to the guidelines of face covers, hand hygiene, and distancing.

If you are concerned about any post vaccination symptoms and experience the following, please contact your healthcare provider (staff and faculty) or the Davison Health Center (students):

  • Increasing arm redness after 48 hours
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe chest or abdominal pain
  • Significant lightheadedness or fainting
  • Mental status changes

Most experts agree that one is fully immunized at two weeks following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There is a slight increase in protection noted at week four. Until we achieve campus herd immunity, we will still need to adhere to all COVID guidelines.

Anyone who has had COVID should receive a vaccine as soon as possible after release from isolation. Initially, the recommendation was to wait 90 days (natural immunity could be expected to provide protection for at least that long). This recommendation was based on the concern that there was not enough vaccine available for the general population, but supply is no longer an issue.

Wishing you all wellness and safety,

Tom McLarney, MD