With none of the drama or interminable wait of my first COVID19 vaccination, I received my second dose at the appointed time quickly and efficiently on Saturday. Although I had no side effects except for a very sore injection site from the first shot, everything I had read prepared me to anticipate more severe effects from the 2nd dose. Since my understanding of science is akin to a kindergartener’s, the friendly administering nurse explained it to me in language I could easily comprehend. She put both hands up in the air as if warding off an alien attack, and said this would be the reaction of my immune system when the vaccine hit it. “WHOA! What is this? I don’t like this. I need to attack it with every weapon in my arsenal. Chills, fever, rash, headache, nausea. One or all of the above. When I see that you have weathered my attack, I will back off, and you will be protected from the deadly Coronavirus.”
Okay, I was satisfied with that explanation, and home I went with my little Garfield/Odie band-aid on the injection site.
( The nurse worked in pediatrics, and those were the only band-aids she had.) No problem. I thought it was cute.
Once home and settled into my comfy lounge chair, I re-read my sister’s email detailing 3 days of fever, exhaustion, chills, and headache after her FIRST shot. Was that due to her 3-week difficult bout with COVID 19 a few months ago? Googling that question provided rock-solid definitive answers such as maybe, maybe not, experts aren’t sure, yes, no, more study is needed, and Who the Hell knows?
In anticipation of a rough Sunday and possibly Monday, I cleared my calendar, which in this pandemic year of blank calendar squares meant that I made a list of Netflix shows I wanted to watch. I was going to be too sick to concentrate on reading.
Saturday night went by with no reaction, but I did not expect one until the next day. I woke up on Sunday with a very sore arm. Not just the injection site……….the entire upper arm……….same as the reaction to the first shot. I did not take my usual miles-long walk for fear that I might be suddenly felled by a fever and chills, and it would be my poor luck that the cardiologist in my neighborhood who cheers me on my walks would not be out that day. So I remained in the house waiting for a chill, a headache………something. Nothing happened. Nothing happened on Monday, either, even after a 6-mile walk.
Article after article that I had read detailed how you can tell the vaccine is working by how aggressively your immune system fights it with nasty side effects. Oh my God, I thought………am I being told that after a year of isolation from my entire family, hundreds of face masks, gallons of hand sanitizer, 8 hours in line to receive the first vaccine dose, that it’s NOT GOING TO WORK?
Monday night, I was back on Google, asking if the vaccine has worked on people who had no side effects. (https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/verify/verify-covid-19-shots-no-side-effects-effective/275-5c1299b9-ab68-4124-845b-47ccbfd413c9) I was delighted to see a chart demonstrating that 91.6% of people vaccinated experienced injection site pain as a side effect. I had significant pain the first time; less severe pain the 2nd time, but pain nonetheless. (I received the Moderna vaccine.) Doctors say there was a “significant” percentage of participants in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials who did not demonstrate the common side effects. Dr. Meg Sullivan, Medical Director for Mecklenburg Public Health, said “The lack of side effects does not indicate that the vaccine is not working.”
WHEW! I’m going to chalk this up to being grateful and lucky that I am one of the “significant participants” who did not have any side effects. I figure that after the last 2 years of life-threatening health challenges, I am due to be on the “luck” side of at least one health equation.