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What to Expect — for Adults

Getting vaccinated is just as important for adults as it is for children. Being prepared can help you get the information you need at your vaccination appointment — and help the process go smoothly.

Below you’ll find information to help you learn what to expect before, during, and after your appointment.

Before your appointment

There are steps you can take to be prepared ahead of time so things go more smoothly during the appointment.

Find your vaccination records

It can be helpful to bring your personal vaccination records to your appointment so that your doctor knows which vaccines you’ve already had. If you can’t find a copy of your vaccination records, you can:

  • Ask your parents if they saved your vaccination records.
  • Ask your doctor — or doctors you’ve seen in the past.
  • Check with former employers that may have required vaccines.
  • Check to see if your high school or college still has your records.

Learn more about finding your vaccination records.

Tip: If you know you have questions about the vaccine you’re getting, write them down ahead of time and take them with you to your appointment.

During your appointment

It’s helpful to know what to tell the doctor during your appointment. You can also take steps to stay calm while you get the vaccine.

Get the facts about vaccines

During your vaccination appointment, your doctor is required to give you a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) that explains the benefits and risks of a vaccine. If your doctor doesn’t give you one, you can ask for it. Learn more about VISs.

It’s also important to ask your doctor any questions you may have about the vaccine or the vaccination process.

Talk to your doctor before you get vaccinated

Some people may not be able to get vaccinated — or may need to wait. The day of your appointment, tell your doctor if you:

  • Have any allergies
  • Have had serious side effects from a vaccine in the past
  • Are pregnant or planning to get pregnant
  • Are sick

Learn more about who should not get vaccinated.

Stay calm while you get vaccinated

If you’re feeling nervous about getting a shot, try these tips to help you stay relaxed:

  • Take deep breaths.
  • Avoid looking at the syringe.
  • Relax your muscles — this can make the shot less painful.

Tip: Before you leave the doctor's office, check that your doctor added the vaccine to your vaccination records.

After your appointment

Most people don’t have any serious side effects from vaccines. The most common side effects are usually mild. They include:

  • Pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given
  • Mild fever
  • Chills
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint aches

If you have mild side effects, you can take steps to help you feel better. For example:

  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Put a cool, wet washcloth on places where you’re sore.
  • If your doctor approves, you can take a non-aspirin pain reliever.
  • If your arm is sore after getting the shot, try moving your arm around — it can help with pain and swelling.

It’s very unlikely that you will have serious side effects from a vaccine. If you have any symptoms that concern you after you get vaccinated, call your doctor.

To learn more:

Last reviewed: January 2018