Fully Vaccinated – Our team’s experience with Pfizer & Moderna COVID vaccines
Don’t be caught by surprise like me!
I am happy to report that I am 95% immune to COVID-19 as I write this. I am also happy to report our teams’ experience to you so that you may plan ahead and take great care of yourself when you take the important step of COVID-19 vaccination.
What is reactogenicity?
Reactogenicity is the official term for the physical response your body has to a vaccine. It is the successful property of a vaccine to produce an inflammatory immune response towards the virus. In other words? It’s when you feel horrible after a vaccine because your body is doing exactly what it should. It includes injection-site pain, redness, and swelling, as well as fever, fatigue, muscle pain, or headache.
We went through all of the above, and one person on our team even experienced transient loss of smell and taste. All of that meant we were on our way to being protected– So if this is you when it is your turn, hang in there!
Top five things to expect from your 2nd dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccines:
- COVID Vaccine dose #2 has more intense side effects than dose #1, except if you previously went through a COVID-19 infection (knowingly or unknowingly) in which case dose #1 can feel like dose #2. I was not infected before and mistakenly thought since I breezed through my first dose I would be minimally affected by the second dose. Oh, how wrong I was!
- Expect impressive soreness at your vaccine injection site. Each of us felt marked pain that lasted anywhere from a few hours to a handful of days.
- Expect to be tired, really tired. Everyone on our team reported exhaustion starting between 4 and 24 hours post-injection. For some it lasted for a few days, for others, it dragged its feet for a couple of weeks.
- Keep some acetaminophen nearby… all but one of our GreyZone team members ended up with a fever lasting 24 to 48 hours after the second dose.
- General body pain was felt by many on our team. One person even said it felt like her bones hurt (!) If this happens, don’t worry, your body is doing exactly what it should to protect you from COVID-19.
Top 3 self-care tips for your COVID vaccine recovery
- Avoid scheduling anything strenuous for at least 72 hours after your second vaccination. Actually, my advice, just clear your schedule for a few days. Cuddle down with pillows and a movie and (very gently) pat yourself on the back for helping to end a global pandemic.
- Be a couple of days ahead on your meal plan– you’ll thank yourself later to find some easy-to-digest food in your fridge.
- If you are a side sleeper, don’t choose the arm you sleep on for your injection site. If you always curl up on your left side to drift off– make sure to get your injection on the right side. Several team members reported intense soreness lasting 3-5 days at the injection site.
Also remember– while you deserve to celebrate your vaccination, continue taking precautions like before: wash hands frequently, mask up, and socially distance. Though you are protected to a significant degree, we are still not 100% sure if vaccinated people may still contract the virus and potentially spread it to those around them.
As more and more of us get vaccinated we will see an end to this singular experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plan ahead, and get your vaccine as soon as you are able!
Written by Sarah Jane, RN, MS
Care Advocate Intern