My Experience with the Pfizer Vaccine
“We have a vaccine for you. Can you be here in one hour?”
This was the call I received from my local hospital on the afternoon of March 12th, completely out of the blue. A couple of weeks earlier, I’d joined a no-waste program that distributes leftover vaccines at the end of the day. (Many hospitals and pharmacies do this by the way—the best way to find out more is to just call.) The moment I hung up, I hopped in my car and drove to the hospital. I called my boss on the ride over to tell her I’d be late to work, and she completely understood. “You go get your shot,” I believe were her words.
Aside from some soreness in my arm that lingered for a few days, I didn’t feel much from my first shot. Emotionally, I was pleased and relieved but also a little guilty since I’d gotten my shot before most people my age. Knowing that my vaccine would have gone to waste otherwise helped me get over that initial guilt but it’s not lost on me that I was lucky. Consequently, I felt like I had a responsibility to share my experience and encourage others to get vaccinated too. I suppose that’s part of the reason why I’m writing this now, just three after getting my second shot.
Although I never once considered not getting my second shot, I was still nervous. How could I not be after hearing about the vast array of unpleasant reactions my friends and family who’d received it before me had had? Within my immediate family, my mama had a rash and, worse than that, my mom, a picture of good health, was so tired and lethargic that she didn’t feel motivated to get out of bed. All symptoms I’d experienced daily when I was battling major depression in high school and hoped I’d never have to endure again.
Despite my festering fears and anxieties, I showed back up at the hospital on April 2nd and got my second shot. After I’d sat around for fifteen minutes (protocol), I hopped in the car with my mom to head home (but not before picking up vegan ice cream at Whole Foods to celebrate). As we drove, I was overcome with immense relief knowing that I was finally protected and safe after over a year of living in constant fear. I’m fully aware that the pandemic is ongoing but it still felt like a major milestone.
So, how did my body react to Shot #2? Well, I woke up at 5 AM the next morning freezing cold and was only able to fall back asleep once I’d bundled up in sweats and fuzzy socks. When I finally dragged myself out of bed at 8:30, I was physically exhausted, sore, and shaky. I had a headache and a chill I couldn’t shake. My mental processing and productivity were significantly slowed. I spent the day lounging around in my pajamas, reading a book for English, watching March Madness, and editing a manuscript for an upcoming writing project. Easy and mundane tasks that made me feel mildly accomplished nevertheless.
By the evening, my symptoms had improved, and when I woke up the next morning, they were almost entirely gone. That was it: one crappy day that, in the scheme of things, wasn’t even that bad. One crappy day that, had it been the coronavirus, could have lasted weeks, if not longer.
I know that many people, for a variety of reasons, are still hesitant about getting vaccinated. To those people, I’d say: trust science. Trust research. Trust doctors. Trust that this is the only way we’re going to put this miserable and deadly pandemic behind us once and for all. The vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel, and we’d be foolish to turn away from it. Because, to me, one day—a mere twenty-four-hours, if that—of feeling crappy is completely worth it if it means I can protect myself and my family and anyone else who’s close to me from a life-threatening virus. It’s worth it if it means I can travel again and give in-person book talks and go to work and do all the other things that have been put on hold for the past year; things that bring me joy and fulfillment. It’s worth it if it means our society—our world—can finally return to normalcy, and someday, hopefully in the near future, I can safely walk through my town and smile at people and see them smile back.