By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

It’s been said the second Moderna or Pfizer vaccination shot produces a stronger reaction than the first round I received, a harrowing tale of low-level arm discomfort for a few hours you can read here. I’ve also heard how results can widely vary from person to person: Some relatively shrug it off. Others feel fatigued and sore for a day or two.

I made attempts to clear my schedule for the day and the following day of my shot, but much like the second round, those results widely varied.

I chose to write about my vaccine experience as part of my personal column, adding a “human” element to the situation by being as thoroughly descriptive as possible. If anyone wants to ask me questions, you can do so here.

The second callback was similar to my first call. I got both a text and an e-mail, so I confirmed both. The Missus got her shot scheduled 30 minutes after mine, so we decided to carpool.

The setup was essentially the same as the first time: A temperature scan, back down the same corridor to fill out some personal information (name, address, etc.), if I have any allergies, and as I entered the waiting area, I fist bumped Chief Paul Henley hello.

According to the Chief, vaccination progress has been going well, and is looking to close in a month, as local registrations have been declining. The I.O.O.F. Center will stop allowing for registration as of 5 p.m., April 7, so if you haven’t gotten your first shot yet, do so now, or call 903-875-3977. As of April 8, no more “first doses” will be administered. The HUB will stay open until everyone gets their second doses.

I asked the Chief if there’s going to be a need for a booster shot in the future. At this time, that’s currently unknown, though it’s sounding largely dependent on potential new variant types of COVID-19, coupled with how immunized society becomes as a whole.

Once again, I filled out the front and the back of my page, presented it to a volunteer, and was sent to a vaccination station.

As the lady in charge of my shot began to swab my arm, Henley walked by, pointed at me, then mimed that I needed a much longer needle to the woman preparing me.

“You are trouble,” I said, narrowing my eyes at the now laughing Chief. “And I’m onto you.”

Seriously, though: Full kudos to our fire department staff, police officers, and medical volunteers for providing such a fast and efficient service. The whole process takes mere minutes, the longest part of the whole process being the post-shot wait time.

I felt fine after my second shot, which remained a painless experience. I made a few comments I hoped this dose would give me superpowers as I ran a few post-appointment errands.

About four hours in, however, I definitely felt a noticeable change.

My arm started hurting a lot more this time whenever I moved it, and my body felt like it was suddenly and completely drained of energy. I had planned on doing some work that evening, but decided that was a big “Nope.”

About an hour (and some aspirin) after, I felt a little better.

Sleep was awkward that night. I slept deeply or fidgeted. I was cold, then hot, and back to cold. My arm, shoulder, and neck hurt. When I woke up, my whole body was stiff, and for a brief moment, I wondered if rigor mortis had set in. But I came to the conclusion that if it had, I wouldn’t be having this internal debate.

I allowed myself another moment before I decided to quit whining, then stumbled to the kitchen for some some coffee. My mouth had a faint metallic taste.

That was the strange part of my reaction: Symptoms came in random waves. The most consistent feeling was one of fatigue and a migraine that would not go away. The common consensus is that if you’re having symptom reactions to the second dose, then the vaccination is creating an immune response and doing what it’s supposed to.

Clearly, my dose was working just fine.

I had an event to attend that evening, something I committed to over a month prior. Outside of the migraine/fatigue combo, I felt stable enough to go, and lasted just long enough for the event, before I realized I should call it early. I made it home just in time before my fatigue and migraine kicked back in, and added chills back into the mix because who doesn’t love a challenge?

I slept restlessly that night.

I woke up to a lingering headache, as if hungover. I still had chills, but hated the very idea of blankets because they were too hot. And then, exactly after an hour of me getting up, everything went away. All my symptoms just suddenly stopped, and haven’t returned. I enjoyed the weekend feeling, well, normal.

Again, response time varies. For some, it’s nothing. Others, it’s a day. Mine lasted just under a day and a half. My personal recommendation is that when you get your second dose, take the day of and after off, and stock up on aspirin. It’s likely not going to be an enjoyable experience, but honestly, it’s not the worst I’ve ever felt in my life.

So by all accounts, I’m fully vaccinated. I’m still going to be cautious since not everyone has gotten their second, or even first dose yet. I’ll still wear a mask in larger crowds until numbers drop some more, and I won’t do anything reckless like start drinking pond water to see how effective this shot can be. I chose to go through this whole experience because, after a year, I’m ready to wrap “The COVID-19 Experience” up and get back to normal. If this helps to get not only myself, but everyone else there, then I decided to do my part.

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