Last week on CBS Sunday morning, there was a segment about overcoming COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. The piece included an interview Reverend DeWitt, who runs a nursing home located in West Baltimore. The reverend talked about how the majority of his staff did not trust the vaccine and were resistant to receiving it.
This mistrust is not unique to that nursing home. The Tuskegee experiments that were done in the 1930’s on African Americans for untreated syphilis are one of the most ill-conducted studies in American history. In fact, it is partly the reason why clinical studies today require informed consent, or, for a patient to understand the risks and benefits to a study and give written consent before they can participate. The Tuskegee study is one of the reasons why African Americans in particular are hesitant about receiving the vaccine.
I can understand why one may have questions about the vaccine or be hesitant until they know all the facts. I can also understand why African Americans may be more hesitant about receiving the vaccine because of past history, general mistrust, and experience with institutional racism in the healthcare system, police system, and more.
I thought I’d share my personal experience with getting the COVID-19 vaccine. It is important to note that side effects may vary person to person.
I received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The fact sheet for this vaccine can be found here. As a healthcare worker, I was able to schedule my vaccine through my employer. On the first day of receiving the vaccine, I did not experience any symptoms. The process of receiving the vaccine was very smooth: there were multiple nurses stations and someone by the door ushered me to an available station. The nurse asked about any known allergies, gave me the fact sheet for Pfizer vaccine, and got the dose ready. It hurt just as much as a flu shot. After receiving a Bugs Bunny bandaid, I was told to wait in the next room for fifteen minutes to make sure I didn’t have an immediate allergic reaction.
I waited for fifteen minutes along with others who had just gotten their first shot, before I was given a vaccination record card. Upon receiving this card, I could schedule my second dose for three weeks later.
The next morning, I woke up with a sore arm in the arm I had gotten the shot. Besides this, there were no other side effects and this pain went away by the third or fourth day.
Due to shipment delays caused by the snowstorms in the Midwest region, my second appoint was actually rescheduled from a Wednesday to the following Monday. That Monday, I got my second dose. The process was very similar to that of the first dose. I was ushered to an available station and handed the nurse my vaccination card. She asked me about allergies, any side effects from the first dose, and filled out my card. Surprisingly, the second shot actually hurt less than the first one. I was asked to wait fifteen minutes in the next room, before going about my day.
That day, I did not experience any immediate side effects. This is understandable given that your immune system takes time to build a proper immune response.
The following morning, I woke up with a sore arm as expected, as well as a general feeling of fatigue. I had slept eight hours, but I felt like I could go for at least four more. Besides that though, I was surprised. I had no fever or chills. I took a Tylenol that morning as a preventative measure. Besides feeling tired, overall I was okay, and went into work that day.
Later that day, I experienced some mild headaches that would come and go, but nothing severe enough to affect my ability to work or anything. The night I went to bed early to try and get some extra rest. The following day I felt much better.
Overall, I only experienced mild fatigue and a slight headache from my second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. I expected it to be way worse given what I had heard from coworkers and friends. Nevertheless, I am glad that my experience wasn’t too bad, although I know it will vary from person to person. Resting and taking Tylenol or something similar definitely helped me. I encourage you to get the vaccine when you can, as with each vaccinated person, we get one step closer to a relatively normal life. 🙂