My Experience With the COVID-19 Vaccine (First Dose).

Monday afternoon, I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19. I know that the vaccine is difficult to come by in many parts of the country, including where I live — in Austin, TX — so I felt (and still do feel) very lucky to have gotten one this early.

I figured I’d share my experience with the vaccine so far. I am not a doctor, a nurse, nor am I a medical professional of any kind. I’m a writer. So, please don’t consider this anything other than me sharing my personal experience with the vaccine.

What are your thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine?

From day one, I’ve had mixed feelings about the vaccine. I was never questioning whether or not I would get it really, but I wanted to learn as much about it as I could. I knew I probably wouldn’t be given a choice as to which “brand” of vaccine I got, but I also didn’t expect to get the vaccine before summer.

My thoughts on the vaccine changed over the last few months as more and more cases were cropping up, and the additional strains. I know that viruses change all the time, but I was starting to feel like there was no end in sight.

For context, I have been living in lockdown since mid-March 2020. I’ve spent holidays alone, have only made essential trips out of my apartment, and always wear a mask when I do leave (which isn’t often). In January, a family member got COVID, and it made me even more scared of the virus.

While I am not in the at-risk category, I have had other illnesses in my life — mono, the flu, pneumonia — that made me very, very sick, so I’ve always assumed that I would not do well with COVID even though I am young and generally healthy.

How Did you get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine?

It started by just doing a lot of research about the vaccine and learning about when the doses were coming to Austin and who was getting them. I contacted my doctor and she basically said, find ANY way to get it.

This sounds like bullshit, but I put this into the universe. I told people I wanted the vaccine and I had a friend who knew about a place offering it. In order to get a vaccine, though, you pretty much had to stalk the website for when people canceled, didn’t show up, or when new doses arrived. So, I stalked it.

It took a few weeks of avid stalking, but I was able to book an appointment. At first, I just hovered over the button because I felt like maybe I was taking a dose from someone who needed it more than me. But, then I remembered what my doctor said, and booked it.

In order for the vaccine to truly work, a lot of people need to get it. I also have felt this whole sense of… rule followers vs. rule breakers this past year. I’m following the rules — I feel I have no choice — because many people are breaking them. I’m terrified to go get groceries, because someone may have broken the rules and gone out with the virus, for example.

So, you know what? I’m getting the damn vaccine. Saying I’m tired of doing yoga every day via Zoom and having food delivered and wearing a mask to get my mail is a goddamn understatement. I know people are going to continue to break the rules, and I’m going to have to continue to follow them. There’s no one looking out for me; no one that’s going to make sure I get my share of the vaccine, so I’ll claw my way to get it. PERIODT.

What was getting the COVID-19 vaccine like?

The place I went to was an athletic complex and it was all done in the parking lot, drive-thru style. There were people directing traffic — sending so many thanks to anyone working these vaccine stations — and it was a legit, efficient setup.

The first tent I stopped at was registration. I completed all of my forms online, which included uploading images of my driver’s license and insurance cards. At this tent, I showed my ID and gave my appointment confirmation number.

Then, I was directed to the line where I’d get the vaccine. While I waited in line, another worker started a paper for me that had information about allergies: had I ever had a reaction from a shot? No. This determines how long I’d have to wait after getting the shot to make sure I didn’t have any issues. She also asked me which arm I wanted it in — I went with the left since I was driving my car.

The next stop was the actual vaccine. The nurse took my paper from the previous stop, wiped my arm and gave me the shot, which was nearly painless. She wrote down the time it was administered, and I moved on to the next (and final) stop.

Here, I was informed about possible side effects and what to do if I experienced any shortness of breath. She also told me I needed to wait for 15 minutes and told me what time I could leave as long as I was feeling okay. I also got my vaccination card. So, I sat in my car and just relaxed until it was time.

Did you experience side effects from the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

I felt fine right after I got the vaccine. I drove home fine, ate lunch, and took a nap. I still was feeling good when I woke up, and did my normal evening activities. But, I started to feel some soreness in my arm (where I got the shot) when I was getting ready to go to bed.

Throughout the night, I was really feeling uncomfortable with the pain in my arm. It felt like a knife was in my shoulder, and it didn’t really matter if I was sitting up, laying down, standing, nothing. It just hurt like hell. The entire next day, I could barely move my arm. It was really interesting trying to get work done and make myself food feeling like this.

I heard mixed things about taking pain meds for this. Some said it reduced the efficacy of the vaccine, whereas I also heard it didn’t matter. But I just took some CBD and dealt with it. That evening, I was washing my face and cleaning up when I suddenly felt like I was going to either vomit or faint. I sat down for a few minutes and braved going into the kitchen for a Liquid IV and an ice pack. I sat on the floor and sipped on it with the ice pack on my forehead and felt okay after a few minutes, but I pretty much went to bed after that.

Today, now a full 50+ hours post-vaccine, my arm still hurts, but it feels much better. I still can’t lift it all the way, but at least it’s not constant pain.

When will you get the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

I will get the second dose 28 days from the time I got the first dose. The appointment will be made for me automatically, so I’m not entirely sure what day it is, but I’ll be there, with bells on.

Again, this is just my experience. I’m really thankful to have gotten this dose and be one step closer to the country crushing this virus and getting back on our feet. I’ll report back after my second dose. Stay safe out there!

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