What You Will Need to Do Before Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Don’t fear your vaccination appointment. Learn what you need to prepare before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Smiling woman giving a thumbs up as she shows off her vaccination spot that’s covered with a plaster on her left arm.

Great news! The majority of the adult population in Malaysia is fully vaccinated. However, if you’re unsure about what to do before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, don’t fret. Getting your vaccination is not as traumatising as your family members or friends might have made it out to be. The entire process is generally seamless and fast. 

Nevertheless, here are a few steps that you can take to prepare for your first vaccination appointment, and what to do before the COVID-19 Vaccine

Woman smiling as she’s about to sip water from a glass.
Drinking enough water can regulate body temperature and prevent infections.

Learning What to Do Before Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccination works in unique ways to help your immune system recognise and fight off any viruses, including the COVID-19 virus. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the concept is not new as historical records spanning beyond a millennium show famous Chinese physicians attempting to prevent or cure infectious diseases like smallpox and rabies with prophylactic immunisation.

“Using ‘poison against poison’ (以毒攻毒)” is a form of treatment method used in TCM. It’s only warranted for exceptional clinical circumstances, which is apt for COVID-19 due to its infectivity and virulence. 

By introducing an altered form of the pathogen into the body, “the protective qi (卫气 or vital energy) of the body will be stimulated and primed for a future invasion of that pathogen”, explains Real Health Medical’s Senior Physician Brandon Yew. 

Get a thorough physical assessment

The World Health Organization (WHO) affirms that the different COVID-19 vaccines are safe for those 18 years and older. These include people with pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension or pulmonary, and liver or kidney disease.

Consult a clinical physician if you have had a previous allergic reaction to a vaccine or a history of anaphylactic reactions to a specific chemical. People with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease may also need to see a physician to adjust their dosing schedule.

Take it easy the week prior

Naturally, thinking about getting a jab will put your body under stress. Hence, it will be good to be physically and mentally prepared for your appointment. 

First, keep yourself hydrated with water a few days prior to the vaccination day. Doing this is necessary for preventing infections, regulating body temperature, delivering nutrients to cells, and helping organs function well. Adequate hydration can also improve sleep quality.

Next, consume a balanced diet to keep your blood glucose levels steady. Health supplements, isotonic beverages, and honeyed water are also beneficial for supporting your intake of nutrients. 

Finally, avoid vigorous physical activity and alcoholic beverages at least two days prior to the vaccination. 

3D illustrations of the Taichong (LR3), Danzhong (RN17), and Zusanli (ST36) acupressure points.
Stimulation of Taichong (LR3), Danzhong (RN17), and Zusanli (ST36) acupressure points can moderate mild vaccination side effects.

Use herbal ingredients or formulations

You can consider using herbal formulations like Xiao Chai Hu Tang ( 小柴胡汤丸), Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan (甘露消毒丹), and Chai Ge Jie Ji Tang (柴葛解肌汤) to alleviate non-life-threatening side effects of the vaccination. 

Although, Physician Yew cautions, “Taking herbal medications before vaccination to prevent or lessen the severity of side effects will dampen the body’s immune response. This will result in less-than-optimal levels of acquired immunity and protection. Essentially, it is akin to wasting the efforts of vaccination.

This poses a higher risk of infection, a more severe form of the disease that requires hospitalisation with or without oxygen support. They might also need other forms of intensive medical care. Young children, the elderly and people who are immunocompromised with other comorbidities can face death.

If you wish to strengthen your body’s tolerance towards the vaccination’s side effects, you can use medicinal mushrooms like Ganoderma Lucidum (Lingzhi, 灵芝) and Coriolus Versicolor (Yunzhi, 雲芝), Cordyceps (Dongzhongxiacao, 冬蟲草), Astragalus root (Huangqi, 黃芪) and American ginseng (Xiyangshen, 花旗参), but he emphasises consulting a TCM physician before consuming any of the abovementioned or other herbal products.

Stimulate acupressure points

Although this is not a pre-appointment step, it’s worth noting that it can help reduce severe post-vaccination side effects. A targeted application of pressure on acupoints like Taichong (LR, 太衝), Danzhong (RN17, 膻中), Zusanli (ST36, 足三里), Baihui (DU20), Hegu (LI4) and Neiguan (PC6) will help ease mild side effects like fatigue, fever, insomnia, as well as muscle or joint pain.

Promptly seek the assistance of a clinical physician and TCM practitioner if you’re experiencing moderate or severe vaccination side effects. 

The intensity of vaccination side effects relates to your body constitution. Having an existing health condition also influences your body’s tolerance. Adhering to these steps can help you go through each day smoothly until you complete both vaccination doses. Do speak to a TCM practitioner beforehand to determine your suitability for using herbal ingredients.

References

  1. Jawantankuasa Khas Jaminan Akses Vaksin COVID-19. PROGRESS STATISTICS FOR THE NATIONAL COVID-19 IMMUNISATION PROGRAMME.  [Accessed 20 January 2022] 
  2. World Health Organization. COVID-19 advice for the public: Getting vaccinated.  [Accessed 20 January 2022] 
  3. Piedmont. Four things to do before getting the coronavirus vaccine.  [Accessed 20 January 2022] 
  4. HARVARD T.H. CHAN. The importance of hydration. [Accessed 20 January 2022] 

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