Got My 1st Dose

Here is almost everything you need to know to prep yourself for the vaccination. These are gathered from reliable sources (mainly JKJAV – I scrolled through every single Instagram posts, and found them to be informative but scattered), coupled with my personal experience.

Earlier this year on 23 February 2021, I, like thousands of others registered for the national immunisation programme. Since the roll-out for Phase 3 began, I checked MySejahtera almost daily until one fine day in July, I was finally eligible for the vaccine (hurray!). The COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) under the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) also sent a text message to notify me a couple of days before the first dose.

JKJAV Roll out phase
(click to enlarge)

Below is a brief walkthrough at my Vaccines Administration Centre (VAC aka PPV) in Hospital Queen Elizabeth II, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Station 1

  • Mark attendance
  • Receive a queue number
  • Fill in form (contact tracing, pre-vaccination assessment, sign consent)

Station 2

  • Health assessment 1 (blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen saturation)

Station 3

  • Health assessment 2
  • Informed of type of vaccine (options unavailable)
  • Receive a vaccination card

Station 4

  • Confirm attendance on MySejahtera
  • Scan vaccine barcode
  • Return queue number
  • Enter injection bay
  • Receive observation time sheet (time-in, time-out, allergy) with a list of side effects to monitor

Things to watch out for at injection bay

JKJAV Syringe reading

  • Before injection, inspect pre-filled syringe
    • COMIRNATY® Pfizer-BioNTech = 0.3ml
    • Sinovac CoronaVac® = 0.5ml
    • Vaxzevria (Oxford AstraZeneca) = 0.5ml
  • After injection, inspect empty syringe
  • Health minister mentioned that vaccinators are required to show the syringe to recipients before and after the injection, so do not hesitate to ask for it. (News report)
  • It may be difficult to see the liquid in the syringe since it is transparent. As long as the vaccinators push the plunger in, it should be alright. They will not inject air in as it can be dangerous (Google: Air embolism)
  • We are now allowed to take photos or record a video of the process. My booth even prepared a phone stand for me. (News report)
  • You may request to inspect the actual vial of the vaccine, but may not be possible if the syringe is pre-filled
  • Take deep breaths and relax during the injection, it will be done in less than 10 seconds (count backwards from 10 if you are nervous)

Observation area

  • 15-30 mins
  • Rest and monitor side effects

Station 5

  • Submit form which would have been signed by vaccinators at previous stations
  • Return observation time sheet
  • Keep vaccination card for second dose

JKJAV Vaccine Procedure


On the day

Had to present these at every station (must bring)

  • NRIC/other identification document
  • MySejahtera app

Other paper and documents received

  • Form
  • Queue number
  • Vaccination card
  • Observation time sheet

Other things to bring (optional)

  • Pen to fill in the form
  • File/folder/document pouch for convenience
  • Medication to manage side effects
  • List of current medication to assist in minimising potential allergic reactions (if necessary)
  • Health records to show doctor during assessment (if necessary)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Wet wipes
  • Phone strap for convenience
  • Phone stand for selfie video
  • Wide angle lens for phone camera

What to wear

  • Surgical mask doubled up with cloth mask, or N95
  • Short sleeved attire, or sleeves loose enough to be rolled up
  • Face shield/safety goggles for extra precaution
    (Personally, I find it difficult to see in face shields due to the reflections, safety goggles has better visibility)
  • Gloves for extra precaution
  • Dress modestly and comfortably

Plan your journey

  • Some areas in Sabah tend to flood after heavy rain. I was chatting with an aunty while waiting, her husband took four hours to complete his vaccination due to the flood and bad traffic
  • HQEII has limited parking spaces. You can either park at Dewan Serbaguna Damai opposite and walk over (bring umbrella), or get a taxi/someone to give you a lift (check latest SOP on maximum passengers per car)

After vaccination

  • Stay hydrated and get ample rest, take 1-2 days off if needed 
  • Monitor side effects, and update on MySejahtera
  • Avoid strenuous physical activities for a week (e.g. playing ball/racket games, swimming, cycling, jogging/running, weightlifting)
  • People are considered fully vaccinated after a certain period of time (e.g. 2 weeks after second shot for Pfizer). However, being vaccinated does not mean that SOPs can be flouted. This is because vaccination serves as another level of protection over SOPs in our fight against the virus
  • Adhere to SOPs (possibly forever)

How to manage side effects

JKJAV Side effects

  • Common AEFIs (Adverse Event Following Immunisation)
    • Pain/Swelling/Itching/Redness at the injection site
    • Fatigue/Lethargy
    • Dizziness/Headache
    • Muscle/Body ache
    • Fever/Chills
    • Nausea/Vomiting
    • Itching on the body
  • Apply clean, cool, wet washcloth to relieve pain, swelling, redness at injection site
  • Use/exercise arm to reduce pain and discomfort
  • Paracetamol (1-2 tablets every 6 hours as needed) for fever/chills, headache, muscle/body ache
  • Antihistamine for itchy rashes
  • Rest if experiencing fatigue
  • Lymph node swelling at neck/arms usually subsides in a week

See a doctor/admit to the hospital

  • Side effects persist/get worse
  • Fever persists for more than 48 hours
  • Acute chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitation
  • Severe allergic reaction, such as swelling of face, throat, eyes, lips, bad rashes all over the body

Before vaccination

  • Make sure you are healthy mentally and physically
  • Eat and hydrate sufficiently
  • Free from any symptoms
  • Not potentially infected with COVID-19
  • Go for a pre-vaccination assessment (if necessary)
JKJAV prevaccination assessment
(click to enlarge)

Additional notes

  • Consult medical professionals if you are unsure about anything
  • Huge shoutout to all the staff at HQEII for the good vibes
  • Be kind to all the healthcare workers
  • Be punctual, though not too early, 15-30 mins before is good enough
  • Since everyone will be playing musical chairs and keep shifting seats, it is best to keep an eye on surroundings to keep the line going
  • Will be in a hall with lots of people, and sitting on chairs many people sat on, do shower and wash your clothes once you reach home
  • Remember to sanitise your phone as well
  • If you are unwell, stay at home. A new appointment will be rescheduled automatically after 7 days should you miss/unable to attend an appointment. Check SMS/MySejahtera for updates. (Rescheduling not applicable for AZ shots)
  • Learning from my mistakes, do rest well the day before. I was rushing for a deadline and only slept for three hours, so I could not tell if I was experiencing side effects, or just feeling weak due to lack of rest
  • My arm was sore for two days though it was only 10% of the discomfort compared to a centipede’s sting
  • There was no queue, and nobody was manning the photo booth while I was there. The aunty I mentioned earlier insisted to have her son snap a photo for me. Grateful for that. Remember to sanitise hands after holding the photo props
  • Quite pleased that MySejahtera was fully utilised throughout the process. All updates on the spot was reflected instantly on my app. Details regarding my vaccination (vaccine number, batch number, expiry date, second dose appointment) was made available shortly after completing the first dose


Final thoughts

I was very impatient and frustrated while waiting but trust me, it feels good to have waited for my turn. If there is no good reason to jump queue, please refrain from doing so, else we are only causing those who needed the protection more than us wait even longer than they should. There are people from Phase 1 and 2 who are still waiting for their appointments. We all know the system is pretty messed up, so let’s not contribute to the mess.

Initially, I was doubtful of the extremely fast vaccines roll-out, but was reminded of the multiple vaccines I took throughout my live which protected me. Like they all say, not getting vaccinated is more risky than getting it. There will be people around us who are afraid due to legitimate concerns, hear them out and be there for them, ultimately the decision is up to them, after all it is free and voluntary.

Thanks for reading till the end. Looking forward to my second dose in a couple of weeks! Side effects please be kind to me. In case you were wondering, it is COMIRNATY® Pfizer-BioNTech (my preferred one, though all vaccines are effective).

*Fun fact* COMIRNATY is the brand name for Pfizer-BioNTech. It is coined from “CO”VID-19 immunity, with “mRNA” in the middle, and meant to evoke the word community. (source)

The best vaccine is the one you can get the soonest.

Do share this blog with someone if you find it helpful. Hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.


Info gathered from:
CDC
MOH Singapore
JKJAV Malaysia

More info:
WHO

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