Covid-19 Vaccination: Personal Experience

I got my shots! Two weeks following my second dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, I feel confident that my body is mostly protected from the novel coronavirus that has been spreading like wildfire around the world.

Covid-19 viral particles started infecting Americans a little more than a year ago and the numbers are record-breaking. The number of positive cases in the United States surpassed every. single. country. in the world. As I am writing this post, check out the numbers of the U.S.:

When I see these numbers, I think of the families and friends that have lost their loved ones. I think of the doctors and healthcare workers who have worked tirelessly to cure, treat, and provide end-of-life care. I think of the communities that have suffered, some more than others, because of systemic inequalities and lack of basic resources to protect individuals from this highly transmissible disease.

Hope for vaccines

This is tied to politics. 2020 has had a devastating impact on many people and we can’t rewind history. All we can do is move forward. Luckily, we have research and science to help slow the spread of the virus with effective vaccinations. The data from some of these research companies is really promising! Pfizer was the first to release their data and Moderna followed shortly after showing 94-95% effectiveness with their vaccines after a 2-dose administration, with the second dose administered 3-4 weeks after the first dose.

Many people have been eager to get vaccinated so that they can feel safe coming out of quarantine (AKA ‘prison’ at home). Although the vaccines have been granted emergency authorization for use by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2020, people are still skeptical about the vaccine and its benefits. Myself included! My thought was that even though I qualified as a health care worker to be eligible for it in the first phase of its rollout, I surely didn’t want to be part of the first round of the general public to get it.

In mid-December, my healthcare worker friends began to post about their experience on social media. Right before Christmas, one of the physicians at my practice heard about an opportunity for our clinic staff to get vaccinated. Within a split second of learning about this opportunity, I signed up for my first dose, even though I didn’t know enough about the vaccine to make an informed decision.

Still skeptical?

I figured, “Why not?” I can always cancel the appointment if I’m not ready. My appointment was still about a week away, so I took that time to talk to people about their vaccination experiences and read the research about the vaccine trials.
Here are the best articles I can find if you’re curious to learn more about how the vaccines were made, how “effectiveness” is determined, and other frequently asked questions:

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination (CDC)

Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 vaccines: Safety, side effects –– and coincidence

My experience

I talked to people. I did my research. I received my first shot on December 27th.

I drove to the vaccination clinic with the expectation that I was going to walk into a building, check-in with a receptionist like any other medical appointment, wait in the lobby for who knows how long, and then get my shot. Nope. Not what happened at all.

I arrived at the site and turned into a large church parking lot that has three large tents set up at one end with one line of cars snaking from each tent. I guess this is what we call a drive-thru vaccination clinic! Upon arrival, I was screened for any symptoms of the flu or coronavirus. I was handed a bunch of paperwork about the vaccine. As the cars ahead of me inched forward, I started to feel more and more anxious about experiencing all the side effects people have warned me about.

waiting in line for my turn to get the shot!

Vaccination time

The wait for my turn to get vaccinated didn’t take more than 30-40 minutes. A medical student administered my shot in my left arm and that’s it. I never look when a needle goes into my arm, but I felt a pinch for 10 seconds max and then I was done. I was told to wait in the parking lot for 15 minutes so that they can monitor any allergic reactions that might occur.

I moved my arm around a lot in my car – you’d think I was trying to do the chicken dance or something. The soreness in my arm at the site of injection was definitely setting in and my arm remained very sore for the next four days. It felt like someone punched my left arm really hard – annoying sensation, but not excruciatingly painful.

A reaction that I may or may not have had to the vaccine was that I got mild eczema on my ears. They were tingling and itchy – I must’ve scratched every part of my outer ear to the point where they turned bright red. The eczema started to spread to the back of my neck over the course of a few days. I was worried that something else might be going on and I could not stop scratching.

Nobody else I talked to had mentioned anything about this being a side effect, so even to this day, I’m not really sure if it is or isn’t. I’ve never had eczema prior to this. I don’t have allergies aside from the seasonal tree pollen stuff. All I know is that it went away after about a week and I found some itch-relief by liberally applying hydrocortisone cream to the affected areas.

Dose #2

21 days after my first dose, I went back to the same drive-thru clinic for my second dose on Sunday, January 17th. I must give kudos to my county for setting up such an efficiently run clinic for people to get their shots! They had plenty of volunteers on-site to collect people’s information and answer questions. If I could give them feedback, I’d say they earned the full 5 stars!

Anyway, if I thought I was nervous for my first dose, I was 1000% more nervous for my second dose. I had spoken with several colleagues about their symptoms after getting their second dose, and boy, I felt anxious when some of them said they were completely bed-ridden the next day because the vaccine knocked them out. Side effects I heard about (but not limited to): chills, fever, fatigue/malaise, body aches, headache, and sore arm.

Similar to last time, they made me wait in the parking lot for 15 minutes to monitor for any allergic reactions. I felt mild soreness in my arm again, although the soreness didn’t last more than two days this time around. I went about my day doing Sunday chores and didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary until about 12 hours in. My body temperature seemed to fluctuate between very warm and extra cold every couple of minutes. I didn’t have a fever, but I could feel a little bit of heat in my cheeks. Nothing too bad.

Monitoring my symptoms

I went to bed a little earlier than usual (10 PM) and woke up the next morning ready to go into work! I was determined to beat any side effects that I may have by keeping myself busy with seeing patients and pacing around the office. I had a slight dullness in my head, maybe a little foggy-brained? But nevertheless, I would not call it a headache. I’ve had headaches before and what I was feeling did not compare to what I consider a headache.

By 3:00 PM, I was exhausted. I wanted the work day to be over. At this point, my back started to ache and slouching forward or backward in my chair did not help. My stomach felt a little tight. As soon as my last patient left at 4:30 PM, I booked it out of the office, got into my car, and drove home.

I changed out of my work clothes the moment I got home. I washed my hands thoroughly. I crawled into bed and took a nice, long nap. I skipped dinner altogether because I simply didn’t have an appetite. My nap felt so good because I woke up and immediately thought it was the next morning. My nap was three hours long, but it certainly helped me feel less foggy.

I managed to stay awake for about an hour or so before deciding to go back to bed. The next morning, I woke up and felt 99.9% myself again. My arm was slightly sore, but aside from that, I was feeling good again.

My takeaways

I’m grateful that my experience with the Pfizer vaccine was not as bad as some of the stories I had heard. I chose not to take any medications to curb the side effects, although some of my colleagues said that they took aspirin or ibuprofen to minimize the negative side effects. I am not recommending this because taking over-the-counter medication may or may not help – it just depends on the individual.

Getting the vaccine was the best decision for me. I know I’m not immune to Covid-19, but I have a peace of mind knowing that I am as protected as I can be, in addition to wearing a mask in public spaces. Things will not “go back” to normal for awhile. I feel more at ease with interacting with people/patients knowing that there is a lower risk of me contracting Covid-19 or worse, being a carrier and infecting my family members at home who fall under the “high risk” category.

My post is simply to share my thought process and experience with getting the vaccine. Whether you choose to get vaccinated when you become eligible to is your own decision. Health experts (including Dr. Anthony Fauci) says that it will take approximately 80% of Americans to get vaccinated before we can achieve herd immunity.

The unknown side effects of getting the vaccine outweighs the short and long term consequences of having Covid-19. With approximately 95% effectiveness, the vaccine protects our lives from being disrupted by the symptoms associated with Covid-19. If you’re skeptical, keep researching until you get all your questions answered.


For those of you who have received either vaccine, what was your experience like? What kind of side effects did you have? Please share in the comments below!

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