Dr. Joy Henningsen is a diagnostic radiologist at the Veterans Medical Center in Birmingham and a clinical assistant at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
She received the first dose of Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 on December 17 and the second dose on January 7 at Birmingham Medical Center.
Although she experienced no side effects after the first shot, about six hours after the second dose Henningsen says she began to feel muscle aches and soreness at the injection site.
She woke up at night to the 12-hour mark with a fever and chills that subsided by morning, but the next day she felt lasting effects.
Henningsen says that while these temporary side effects are uncomfortable, they will not happen at all and should not stop you from getting the vaccine.
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Video: What it’s like to get the COVID-19 vaccine
I was extremely happy to receive the initial dose of Pfizer COVID-19 on December 17, the first week it was offered in the United States outside of a clinical trial. My hospital received doses in the first national shipment, and every healthcare professional in my hospital who expressed an interest through a study received the vaccine, including me.
I barely felt the first shot, except for the very subtle pain in my hands about a day later.
I also registered to register my symptoms with the CDC V-Safe online symptom tracking tool. My reports were completely seamless; fortunately, as expected, I had no symptoms that would affect my life or activities in any way.
I was wondering if I would be so lucky after the second dose, when more people reported unpleasant side effects.
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Before I knew how my body would react to the second dose, I prepared for the possibility of feeling worse for a day or two after that.
Henningsen prepared washcloths, a thermometer, and over-the-counter pain medications. Joy Henningsen
If it was an option, I would plan the weekend after the second vaccination to be safe. For me, this was not possible, so I planned to deliver groceries before the shot and bought the same items that I would buy if I had a cold or flu (water, soup, biscuits, etc.). they were supplied with much food and water.
In addition to the comfortable food and moisturizing fluids, I arranged together a “vaccine vase” of other consumables to have on hand.
This included a thermometer under the tongue to monitor the temperature and temperature reducers without a prescription. For the whips back and forth between fever and chills that some people report, I laid out towels to use as cold compresses. I also put a weighted blanket and a duvet near my bed.
I received my vaccine on the afternoon of January 7th.
The second dose of COVID-19 vaccine that Henningsen received. Joy Henningsen
I felt good until the six-hour mark when I started to feel unwell (the medical word for this vague feeling when you know something is wrong at the beginning of the nausea).
Mild muscle aches soon followed, as well as pain at the injection site, which felt similar to how a tetanus shot feels, ie. a little worse than a flu shot. I fell asleep, but not calmly; I woke up at the 12-hour mark with a 102-degree fever and chills that subsided by morning. Still, when I woke up, the muscle pain continued and I had a dull headache, similar to what I would feel if I missed my daily coffee. 24 hours later, the headache, exhaustion, chills and the feeling of “blah” are still here.
However, all my symptoms are mild and very low cost to protect against COVID-19. I believe that temporary discomfort should not stop me from taking the vaccine, and I know that these symptoms are a sign of a stable immune system and that my body is preparing to fight COVID-19 – exactly what it needs to do.
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It is important that we are prepared for the possibility of these side effects.
The Pfizer vaccine has been tested by the US Food and Drug Administration, which has determined that it is safe to give to people over 16. Millions of Americans must be prepared for the potential side effects of approved COVID-19 vaccines such as fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, fever and chills, which are more common with the second dose. For most recipients, these potential effects may be an inconvenient but non-threatening part of this vaccine.
According to the latest estimates of Dr. Anthony Fauzi, we need approximately 90% of Americans to be immunized to achieve herd immunity in order to resume normal life. I believe it is our civic responsibility to be vaccinated according to the recommended dosing regimen to end the pandemic. We all win.
It is wise to prepare for the possibility that the dose of two of the permitted COVID-19 vaccines may be a little more difficult. Still, after seeing the destruction of SARS-CoV-2 that can enter the body, I can tell you that I prefer to spend a night in a bad mood on the couch watching Netflix every day over serious COVID-19.
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