As many of you know, the COVID-19 vaccine is a novel vaccine.
NOVEL as in ground-breaking, innovative, pioneering, new. Never in the history of vaccines have we as a world been able to pull off such a tremendous outpouring of scientific research, clinical trials, and production in such a limited amount of time. But when a global pandemic hits, all hands are on deck. It’s truly one of the greatest feats in modern science. You may not agree with me, and that’s fine, but the research speaks for itself.
Because I believe in the power of modern medicine, I decided to get the COVID vaccine. I have been working on the frontlines of this pandemic in the Emergency Department and Hospital Medicine for the past 10 months and seen the direct effects that this virus has had on our country, public health, and global landscape. It’s isolated us from our communities. It’s taken family members and friends from this world all too soon. It’s caused further division across our country and governing bodies. It’s wrecked our mental health. It’s laid pillage to our sense of normalcy, and I for one am over COVID stealing one more thing.
But as a medical provider, I believe it’s my duty to build public confidence in the COVID vaccine. So for all of you with reservations about getting the vaccine, this is my experience and I feel compelled to share it with you. The only way to normalize an experience is to share it. Scientists and public health officials have worked tirelessly over the production of this vaccine. The least I can do as a practicing PA is share my experience, because I want to end the COVID pandemic.
Please note: Symptoms and experience vary! Just because I experienced these specific symptoms does not guarantee that your experience will be the same.
First Shot – December 17
Got my shot around lunchtime. Only symptoms I experienced were injection site pain and tenderness. It lasted a couple of days but quickly faded. Truly the injection site pain was less than that of the flu shot for me. No fever, chills, or myalgias.
Second Shot – January 7
2:00pm – got vaccinated
4:30pm – went for a walk outside, only symptom was arm pain
8:00pm – 6 hours post-vaccine, started developing a minor headache, mild body aches, moderate fatigue, no fever
2:00am – 12 hours post-vaccine, woke up with shaking chills, low-grade fever, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, dry heaving, & moderate headache. took a dose of tylenol and was able to go back to sleep after a few hours.
9:00am – woke up to do telehealth counseling. called my grandmother. ate some saltines. went back to bed because my headache reared it’s ugly headache again. took another dose of tylenol. the headache went from moderate to severe in a couple hours. body aches, chills, and fatigue got worse.
12:00pm – ate oatmeal. dozed off to sleep for the next couple hours.
2:00pm – 24 hours post-vaccine, body aches and chills stopped. took dose of ibuprofen to help with headache.
5:30pm – headache finally stopped. 70% my normal self.
Went to bed that night and woke up feeling refreshed and energized.
I guess that’s what immunity feels like!
What’s the time frame for getting the two vaccines?
The Pfizer & Moderna COVID-19 vaccines consist of two doses administered intramuscularly:
- Pfizer-BioNTech: 3 weeks (21 days) apart
- Moderna: 1 month (28 days) apart
How long will the symptoms (if any) last?
From the CDC: “Post-vaccination signs and symptoms are mild to moderate in severity, occur within the first three days of vaccination (the day of vaccination and following two days, with most occurring the day after vaccination), resolve within 1-2 days of onset, and are more frequent and severe following the second dose and among younger persons compared to those who are older (>55 years).”
How do you differentiate vaccine side effects from true COVID-19?
This is a great question! The vaccine isn’t an instant fix. It takes time for your body to appropriately create an immune response against the virus, approximately 2 weeks. So it is possible for you to get the vaccine and also contract COVID during the time frame before or after you get the vaccine. That is why you have to continue to wear a mask and social distance until your body and our country has built up enough herd immunity. Symptoms that are consistent with a SARS-CoV-2 infection that are not common post-vaccine are cough, shortness of breath, rhinorrhea, sore throat, or loss of taste/smell. If you develop any of these symptoms shortly after receiving the vaccine, get tested.
Will I test positive for COVID after the vaccine?
No! You will not test positive for the viral tests that ascertain current infection. You may however test positive on the antibody tests because those tests indicate previous infection or a recent immune response.
Is it safe to get the vaccine if you’re pregnant, trying to conceive (TTC), or breastfeeding?
Unfortunately, there is no “right answer” to this question. It’s ultimately up to the individual to make this decision. Here are a couple of good articles for those interested. At this time, there is limited data and information for these three specific populations. Things to consider: your personal risk of contraction, pre-existing conditions, and risks vs. benefits. These are all great questions to discuss with your PCP or OB-GYN to help in your decision-making process.
If you’re wanting access to more information about the vaccine, the CDC is a great resource! They have numerous trackers that allow you to track vaccine distributions, case numbers/deaths, ER visits, and even county data for your specific zip code. Fabulous resource if you’re a numbers nerd like me!
Would I get the vaccine again?
HECK YES! I would much rather have a couple flu-like symptoms for a day than experience full-fledged COVID. COVID has taken too many lives already. The least I can do is get a vaccine to help our country build herd immunity. Getting this vaccine was my way of giving COVID a black eye. And I like to think I put up a pretty good fight!
Let’s swap experiences!
If you’ve received the vaccine, please feel free to share your story in the comments below!