My COVID Vaccine Experience

I got my second dose of the COVID vaccine last week, so enough time has passed that I feel comfortable sharing my experience with it. Clearly, I am in no way a medical expert, and my post should not be a replacement for actual medical advice. But I know that people are curious, and there is so many conflicting accounts about people’s experiences with the vaccine. So I wanted to share my experience to help relieve some fears and worries.

Heather, a white woman in a wheelchair, is wearing a leopard pring short sleeved sweater. She's holding her vaccine card up in front of her and wearing a disposable mask, looking directly at the camera.

I got the Pfizer-Biotech vaccine, so I can’t speak to the side effects of the Moderna shot. Which vaccine I got wasn’t a choice that I made – it was just the shot used at the clinic where I was able to get an appointment. With that being said, I would have been equally happy with either one; from what I can tell, there’s no real difference in efficacy between the two.

I’m only going to talk about my experience actually getting the vaccine, not the process in signing up for an appointment. Believe me, I know how frustrating and stressful that process can be, but I have no real advice or strategy other than keep trying, as annoying as I know that sounds.

Dose #1

I shared a little about my experience with the first COVID shot in this post. The process at the site itself was smooth and quick (but of course this can vary greatly depending on where you go and the volume of people being vaccinated) – I think the longest part was the 15 minutes afterwards when you hang out to make sure you don’t have any immediate allergic reaction to the shot. My arm was pretty sore after this shot – I followed the advice to stretch and move it around following the shot, but it didn’t seem to help much for me. It was actually much more sore following the first dose of the vaccine than it was for the second. It was slightly sore the evening of the day I got the shot, but really hit it’s peak the following day. I also definitely had some fatigue and what I call “brain fog” the day after the vaccine. It was nothing major – I didn’t take off work – but just felt like I was tired and everything was moving a little more slowly. And I had some sinus drainage, too – it seemed like my sinuses were slightly swollen. By the next day though (so two days after the shot), all side effects were completely gone and I was back to feeling normal.

Dose #2

I’d heard that people experienced more side effects with the second dose of the vaccine than the first, so I decided to preemptively take off from work the next day, and I’m glad that I did. I would have been able to survive a day at work, I think, but I wanted to be able to sleep in and give my body time to rest. The symptoms were a little bit different for me the second time around – my arm was much less sore, but I did have some chills and a headache. The chills weren’t terrible, but bad enough that I planted myself in front of our little gas fireplace for a few hours! Eventually, I took some ibuprofen and felt MUCH better – the chills and headache were gone! I did get the same fatigue and brain fog again the second time around, too. But once again, by the second day after the vaccine, any side effects were gone for me.

A note about taking medicine – again, I am not a healthcare worker or medical expert, but I do know my way around a clinical trial. I made sure not to take any ibuprofen or Tylenol before I got either dose of the vaccine, but I did take them afterwards to help deal with side effects. This approach is backed by the CDC, I ran it past my doctor, and is actually what people in the clinical trial were told to do (which means the efficacy rates from the trial include people who medicated their side effects). I know there’s been some conflicting information about whether using medicine was ok or not, so I wanted to make sure I shared what I learned! I should note that I also stopped using my CBD drops before the first dose of the vaccine and didn’t start using it again until after the second dose. There’s not a lot of research out there about CBD and vaccines, so I figured that I’d rather be safe than sorry.

So, there you have it – my experience with the COVID vaccine. Obviously, I’m a huge proponent of vaccines in general, and of this one in particular, too. I hope that my experience helps to make you a little bit less nervous about getting the vaccine – while side effects aren’t fun, they’re definitely better than getting or spreading COVID.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or send me an e-mail – I’m not an expert, but I’ll answer any questio

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