My COVID Chronicles: The Effects of My First Vaccine Shot

The COVID vaccine is a hot topic these days. I know a lot of people for it and a lot of people against it. I know some people who legitimately cannot get the vaccine right now because of health conflicts. I’m not interested in debating all of it right now. I am just here to share my experience, because we all have different ones.

At my March checkup, one of the topics of discussion, of course, was whether or not to get the vaccine and then when. My doctor did recommend it for me and said enough time had passed since my bout with COVID that I would be okay to get it when available to me.

My health conditions with the clot complications actually made me eligible, but trying to get scheduled looked like a nightmare. One advantage I had was because I live in an orange zone, my zip code was taking priority with the new FMA sites being set up in New York State. But even if I could get an appointment, I knew that standing in line could be a serious issue for me. Walking has been improving, but standing still with no support was still difficult.

Luck ended up being on my side. I was packing up at the AM office to leave for the  one. The phone rang. It was after my hours, but I recognized the caller ID as one of the members we don’t hear from often, so I thought I’d better answer.

TL;DR her husband is a pharmacist at Walgreens. They had a huge supply come in and so they were reaching out to people who still needed vaccines. I qualified for theirs because of my childcare job that should be opening up again this spring.

In I went the next day, a Wednesday. I got the Pfizer shot in my left arm and was told I would likely feel the effects within 24 hours. I knew from reading in my long haulers group that we were more likely to experience side effects the first round because our immune systems had already battled this before. I was prepared, though. I made some meat and veggies in the slow cooker the night before. I made sure all of my water bottles were refilled. I downloaded plenty of movies, TV shows, and books for entertainment. Bring it on.

I went through my day as usual. I stayed late at the PM job, milking their WiFi. (My router is broken.) I was feeling tired and achy by dinnertime, but not too far out of the ordinary. My biggest complaint was how much my arm hurt. At bedtime, I couldn’t even lie on my side, it was so sore. I took Tylenol PM so that I could try to get some sleep.

By morning, I felt terrible. I was very tired. I was aching so much that I was actually in tears. My head hurt and I felt feverish, but was not registering one. Basically, it was COVID light.

I went to work anyway because I had a lot to do and knew I could leave if I got too bad. I remember leaning on the desk as I was talking to my boss in the next room and it felt like electric chocks were zinging up my arms. I took Advil and still registered a fever by lunchtime.

I went to the afternoon job anyway. The fever didn’t indicate infection; it meant my immune system was doing its job with the shot. My aches started to lessen. My arm had developed a red spot about the size of a gently squeezed nickel at the injection site, and man, did it hurt to touch. But the fever broke and stayed away.

Fridays I usually stay home, but went in to use the internet. I drew a circle around the red spot. I know it can be normal, but a cellulitis infection from a spider bite in 2018 landed me in the hospital for a week and could have killed me. I get paranoid.

Otherwise, I was still really tired, kind of achy, and just felt crappy. And my arm hurt.

Sunday was the first day that I finally felt somewhat normal again. I was still a little tired and my arm still hurt. But otherwise, I felt “normal”?

I did go down to the neighborhood bar and grill because one of my longtime friends who worked there was leaving. MASK ON THE WHOLE TIME, EVEN WHEN SITTING. I ran into a buddy who had gotten sick in the same exposure. He said he’d already had both Moderna shots. Each of them had made him so sick that he laid down on the floor of his office for about two hours – door open – and then it went away and he was fine.

Another friend who works there and had gotten sick at the same time had gotten the Johnson & Johnson shot. She felt crappy for a day or so and then was fine.

A friend of mine in a different state, but also had COVID around the same time I did, elected to do the Johnson & Johnson shot for just one chance of side effects. She felt like she had COVID all over again, plus it sent her into a fibro flare for a several days.

Another good friend of mine locally, who had NOT gotten COVID, got her first Pfizer shot. By evening, she said she was feeling funny, like she was hot but wanted to wrap up in blankets. Later she had the chills. She thanked me for telling her my story so that she was somewhat prepared, but it still caught her off-guard.

As I shared my experiences on my personal profile page, a lot of people assumed it was my second shot because I was having reactions. Again, as I skimmed through my long haulers group, I noted a lot of us were reacting to the first shot. But the Pfizer shot, the one I had gotten, seemed to bother us the least.

I also had a lot of friends and acquaintances share their experiences. Most of them had no reaction. Or if they did, it was some discomfort for a few hours after the second shot. This was the case across all three varieties.

I did have one friend who got the “Moderna arm.” About a week or so after the shot, some people get a large red blotch at the injection site. It hurts a bit and then it goes away, but it is kind of scary looking.

In spite of how sick I was, I am still glad I did it. That time, at least I knew the symptoms would go away, whereas when I actually had COVID, it was harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am nervous about the second shot, but am even better prepared than I was before. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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