Me, with a bandage over my "Fauci Ouchie," a term for a COVID-19 vaccine coined by a ballet student in January 2021. - Note that I'm not showing my vaccination card because it's got identifying information on it. Photo: April 17, 2021.
family health history pragmatic historian

Fully Vaccinated from COVID

Yesterday, Hubby and I got our second COVID shots, after having the first on March 26, 2021. Our clinic was offering patients the Pfizer vaccine and asked if we would like them. Because a new baby is entering our family soon, we jumped at the chance.

Symptoms after the first shot included tiredness, a very sore arm, a little bit of body aching, and, for me, tingling in my fingers, especially in my left hand. I got the shot in my left arm. The symptoms were gone in a couple of days.

Me, with a bandage over my "Fauci Ouchie," a term for a COVID-19 vaccine coined by a ballet student in January 2021. - Note that I'm not showing my vaccination card because it's got identifying information on it. Photo: April 17, 2021.
Me, with a bandage over my “Fauci Ouchie,” a term for a COVID-19 vaccine coined by a ballet student in January 2021. – Note that I’m not showing my vaccination card because it’s got identifying information on it. Photo: April 17, 2021.

This time, about an hour after the shot, I developed a headache. I got the shot at around 1:30 p.m. and the headache was at its peak by around 7:30, after which it subsided and was pretty much gone by 11:30 p.m. When the headache hit, I was tired and took an evening nap. When I woke, I had tingling fingers, worse once again in the hand on the side I got my shot (left, again). That’s when I remembered I had tingling the first time.

My throat feels a little dry and scratchy today, I’m a little bit achy, and a little tired. It’s like I overexerted myself one day and didn’t get enough sleep and am feeling the effects the day after. Nothing major, thank goodness, though I could have done without the headache, which did not feel like my normal headaches.

I’m very glad to have the shots done with, partially because it was difficult to wait for an opportunity; partially because the quicker we get most of us vaccinated, the sooner we can socialize again; and partially because shots are no fun and it’s good to have them and the after-effects in the rearview mirror.

An interesting thing to note about the vaccine process at our clinic, which is set up in a separate space from the rest of the clinic and has several chairs for people to wait in (distanced and masked, of course), is how much most of us have read or seen about the different vaccines, which was revealed in our conversations with the person giving us our shots. We were asking good questions and trading info on what we had learned from news reports. People are paying attention and catching the nuances in this complex topic.

The person giving us the vaccine was super gentle with the needle. Yay! But, she told us it’s a lot of extra work for staff at the clinic to administer the vaccine-giving process. They are not allowed to charge for the shot and can only recover a small administrative fee, even though they have to have extra staff on hand or have to work on weekends to offer the vaccinations. They’re trying to figure out the best logistics in terms of offering the service and managing staffing and other costs. They can order any of the available shots, but they come in different-sized batches. With Pfizer, they can get small batches, which enables them to use the shots without them going to waste. With Moderna, the batches are much, much bigger and they can’t really handle the volume.

The behind-the-scenes coordination of all of this makes it quite amazing that we’ve reached 202 million people in the United States with at least one dose of the vaccines and 80 million who are fully vaccinated as of April 16, 2021. I credit President Joe Biden for providing solid leadership on getting these vaccines to people as quickly as possible.

One of the quirks of having so many vaccinations available to us is how our conversations around them go. We first start by asking if someone has gotten a vaccine and follow up with, “Which one did you get?” before trading the symptoms we got from our shots. There’s a whole micro-culture around finding available vaccines, too. I know of a couple of different people who use their free time to track down vaccines for others. In some cases, people have to travel several hours to get a shot.

If people are having trouble finding a vaccine, one piece of advice is to look for counties that voted mostly Republican in the last election. It seems dumb that public health processes have become so political, but Republicans are less likely to want to be vaccinated, so Republican-leaning counties tend to have more vaccines than they have people willing to get them. When coupled with the fact that so many Republicans also refused (and still refuse) to wear a mask or following distancing protocols, it’s almost as though they are attempting to keep the pandemic going. (Lest we forget, there were Republican politicians suggesting we let vulnerable populations die of COVID-19, sacrificing their lives for the good of the economy.) These attitudes are confounding to me. If you’re not willing to get the shot, then wear a mask, or vice versa, if you want things to get back to normal.

It’s by sheer force of will that we will bring this pandemic under control, and it looks like there are enough of us taking public health protocols seriously that we’ll eventually get there. But, damn, it’s been a long year-plus that didn’t have to be this full of death and suffering.