My husband and I went back for our second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine today. I thought I’d share my experience.
It’s been over 4 hours since we got injected. My arm isn’t even sore.
Because we work in critical infrastructure, we’re in the tier that opened right before the general community started getting their chance. A lot of our colleagues are a month or more ahead of us. We did a little canvassing, and it turns out that how people reacted to their vaccines was all over the map.
My boss and his wife reported zero effects.
A younger friend in her thirties got really tired and signed off to take a nap.
One of our friends in his seventies felt woozy for a day or two.
When I first signed up for my appointment, I was 100% convinced that I would get the full range of the worst side effects. As badly as I wanted to get vaccinated as soon as possible, I was also a little scared. I didn’t really want to spend two separate weekends resting my face on my bathroom floor. I felt that if my immune system started revving up and was even vaguely reminiscent of my experience being sick with COVID, I would sob for hours, rocking myself in my closet.
That was the boogeyman that lived in my brain.
A lot of us have those, don’t we?
Instead of being overcome by waves of wooziness when my immune system kicked into gear, I felt: nothing. Just a sore arm.
Then I got the second shot. So far, it’s even less than that. My arm still doesn’t hurt.
I barely even felt the needle go in. Our nurse has undoubtedly given thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of injections by now. That’s one thing we can say about this. Anyone with medical training who is certified to give people shots has suddenly had the opportunity to become much more experienced.
Our nurse had just gotten back from the funeral of a cousin who died of COVID. That’s the second one in her family.
How do they even do that? How do they watch so many people die of this disease, including their own loved ones, and then just have to shake it off and get back to work?
If I ever go out to a restaurant again and I see anyone there who works in healthcare, I’m going to call over the waiter and secretly pick up their tab. It seems like none of these brave souls should ever have to buy their own drinks or tacos again for the rest of their lives.
We got our shots, we took each other’s photos, we went to the waiting area to make sure our arms didn’t turn green and fall off or whatever.
We had shown up about a half hour early - living with an Upholder will do that to you - and we didn’t have to wait. Same experience as last time. We were actually done with our post-injection waiting period and getting up to go at the time of our official appointments.
There is some advice going around about making sure you get the best vaccination experience possible. Supposedly it works better if you go to bed early the night before, because sleep is such a key component of the immune system.
I can report that I had a very cruddy night of sleep the night before my shot.
Another thing is to avoid taking anti-inflammatories until *after* the shot. Don’t pre-game. I’m fine with that. Last time I took a couple of Tylenol because my arm was really sore, but this time I haven’t felt the need yet.
Something else that I heard was to rotate your arm in big dorky arm circles whenever it feels sore, to help avoid inflammation. I did it a couple times to show my husband what I was talking about, but that’s it. Maybe it worked.
My suspicion is that I was already covered by the first shot, since I had COVID last year. My immune system must have been like “YOU again??” Preliminary research indicates that COVID survivors mount the same antibody response after one dose as regular people do after the second dose.
It’s not like I was going to skip my second dose! Just that it seems possible I am having an easier time with this shot than my husband did because my poor old carcass is already experienced.
(His arm has started to feel sore. Since we got injected about 90 seconds apart, I would have expected to have the same problem by now).
My reaction to the first dose was fantastic. I started to feel my long-haul symptoms lift away. By the second week, the difference was quite noticeable to me. I have described it as like opening the curtains in a dark room and letting the sunlight in.
Since my first dose, I’ve suddenly had the energy and motivation to do several things I hadn’t really done in a year. Cooking from scratch, reading four times as much, organizing closets, taking shorter naps, dropping a few pounds. It truly feels like magic.
I have high hopes for this second dose as well. Maybe next week I’ll perk up even more. Maybe the last vestiges of this sad year of illness will finally be swept away.
As a side note, I know two people with legitimate health concerns about getting the vaccine.
One has a serious yeast allergy - the anaphylaxis / rushed to the hospital / carries an Epi Pen type of allergy - and there were specific concerns about yeast allergies with the vaccine. Her doctor just gave her the go-ahead to get her shots.
The other is a cancer patient. Both her oncologist and her regular doctor not only gave her the go-ahead, they strongly encouraged her to get at least one dose in before her surgery. The only note there was to avoid doing it within one week before and one week after the surgery date.
While I don’t emotionally resonate with it at all, I do understand the fact that thousands of people are more afraid of vaccinations than they are of getting cancer or dying of COVID-19. It seems to be aided and abetted by this idea that “a lot of people feel this way, so there must be something to it.” This is why I am sharing my own experience and those of people close to me, to help add to the group awareness.
So far, over 91 million Americans have had at least one dose of the vaccine. That’s a lot! I know dozens of people now who have had both their doses, and it’s fine.
I’m thrilled to be one of them. We’re in the end game now. Let’s all get this done and put this sorry chapter of history behind us.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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