COVID-19 Vaccine Is Worth The Second Shot Suffering

Back in early January after getting the initial dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, my blasé reaction was, “Well, that wasn’t bad.” Some soreness at the injection site, perhaps a little swelling of the upper arm, and a bit of muscular discomfort when I raised my arm above shoulder level.

That was the extent of the aftereffects. Then came the second dose last week…

Fortunately, a friend who was two days ahead of me in getting both jabs had clued me on his reactions, so I was prepared for what was to come. He’d experienced a wide range of side effects after his second shot. None of them were fun, including nausea and fever.

My appointment for the second dose was set for 9:20 a.m. at the nearby hospital. I was home by 10 a.m. and back at the desk in my office, figuring to get some work done in advance of feeling lousy. More than eight hours passed with no adverse reaction. Maybe I’d be one of the lucky few who had minimal reaction.

It Took Time Until The Side Effects Showed Up

By 8 p.m., though, my arm started to hurt; just like the first time. No surprise or concern there. I went to bed about 10 p.m., quickly dozed off and slept soundly until 12:30 a.m. when I was jolted awake by severe chills. My teeth were chattering and my entire body shivered.

I pulled the thick comforter over my head in hopes of creating a cocoon. Eventually, I fell back asleep. By morning, more side bothersome effects were noticeable – a mild headache, immense fatigue and aching muscles from head to toe.

Thankfully, there was no fever and no urge to puke. I spent much of the day in bed. As a precaution, I had cleared my schedule for the day after the second dose.

Not knowing whether taking aspirin or ibuprofen would impact the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, I avoided taking anything to alleviate the discomfort. After all, the side effects were a sign that the vaccine was working. (A Google search later turned up a report in “USA Today” that it’s best not to take anything before getting injected, but it’s OK after.)

By late afternoon, some 30 hours after receiving the second jab, I began to feel better. I even joined my friend who had warned me of what was to come on a nearly two-mile walk. The fresh air felt good and so did the exercise. By the next day, everything felt normal again.

The Suffering Was Certainly Worth It

In hindsight, there may have been one other side effect, a hint of what was to come. In eating dinner the day of the dosage, everything tasted “funny” – bland as opposed to flavorful. It was as if my taste buds had been turned off.

So why write about the experience of getting the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine? Simply because my friend’s warning to me helped make what was certainly an uncomfortable process vastly more tolerable. When you know what to expect, and for how long, it’s so much easier to endure.

A day of discomfort certainly beats a hospital stay, a ventilator or death.

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About Bud Wilkinson

Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" classic car feature in the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. A graduate of Vermont Academy, he received a B.A. degree journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1975. He is the recipient of a Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award in 1992 and a 1991-92 regional Emmy Award for commentary. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville and drives a 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata.