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Covid Vaccine!

Preventing the transmission of Covid19 has been a priority of mine since the beginning of the first shutdown. I’m not gonna lie to you, when Covid first started making the news I was pretty casual about it. And then it overtook my news feed and every conversation leading up to quarantine. The summer of 2020 came with a lot of mixed feelings for me, as it did for almost everyone I’m sure. The first talks of a vaccine made me feel a little uneasy, just because it seemed so fast. Being able to be fully vaccinated, effectively, just 13 months after the world felt like it was about to end seemed almost unthinkable. But then I did more research on it and started to feel a lot better about the whole situation. I wasn’t too worried about when I was able to get my vaccine, because nothing about my precautions would be changing since my toddler is too young to be vaccinated. It happened a lot sooner than I expected it to and it was strange to realize how much stress I was holding physically about the situation that started to go away once I had gotten my first dose.

Some of the research

The CDC is pretty upfront with the fact that we’re still learning things about the vaccine and how long it lasts. The studies were as thorough as they could have been given how quickly things were trying to be moved along. I know 8-12 months seems impossibly fast for an effective vaccine but if you also think about the man hours that went into this project across the world, people and scientists working together on a scale never seen before, it seems much less mind blowing.

Two of the of the currently approved vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are mRNA based. The short version on how these work is that rather than introducing a live virus for your body to see and fight off, they instead introduce a protein that the virus would use to bind to cells in our bodies, helping your body recognize the protein responsible and being able to identify and neutralize it quickly should you encounter it in the wild. Science Mag has a great short piece about how it works and Health.mil has a more in depth article on the matter. Johnson&Johnson (Janssen) and AstraZeneca have developed viral vector vaccines, which instead uses a different virus that’s been genetically modified to deliver the same protein for your body to learn.

My personal feelings

I know a lot of people still have lingering fears. As a regular person who has researched but doesn’t have a medical degree, I’m not here to do anything other than give my thoughts and feelings. All I can really do is tell you what my initial concerns were, what answers I found when I tried to address them, and my personal feelings about things.

Jeez that vaccine came out fast:
– As mentioned earlier, there was a lot of hours put in around the globe, effectively cutting lengthy research down. If thousands of people volunteered to test it and haven’t gotten sick or had any major adverse reactions, I’m not that worried about getting it.

Who knows how long it’s effective for? Why bother if we’re just gonna have to get boosters or it wears off completely?
– I mean. We don’t complain about getting the flu shot every year, what really makes this any different? People who have had Covid and gotten the vaccines through trials are able to be monitored and we’ll learn how long antibodies are good for. If I get 12 months protection from a shot that might give me side effects for a day, I’ll take it over possibly getting a virus that I have no idea how it will affect me long term and possibly giving it to people I care about.

What’s the point if I have to keep wearing my mask anyway?
– Ok. I have a lot of strong feelings about masks and them being worn properly. First and foremost how much faster this could have been gotten under control if everybody had just worn the damn mask properly and distanced for 6 weeks when it first went crazy in the spring of 2020. The point of the mask WAS NEVER TO PROTECT YOU FROM OTHER PEOPLE. It was always to protect other people from you. Like most viruses, Covid19 also spreads in moisture droplets that you expel as you breathe, cough, etc. By keeping your droplets to yourself, it’s a lot easier to limit how far a virus can spread.

Given that we just don’t have the long term data to know for sure whether these vaccines will prevent you from being able to spread the virus, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to continue to take simple and basic precautions. Not everybody is able to get vaccinated even if they want to and it isn’t fair to start exposing them now just because you probably aren’t going to get sick.

If I can still get Covid even with the vaccine, why bother?
– Let’s circle back to the flu shot up there; it’s possible to still get the flu even after getting the flu shot. The purpose is to minimize your risk and prevent it from becoming serious. Having something with the severity of a cold that you can get over in a few days is a whole lot better than having to be hospitalized.

Why should I be afraid of a virus with a 98% survival rate?
– With access to adequate medical care and facilities, severe cases of Covid19 are typically dealt with fairly well. In order to maintain adequate levels of medical care, we need to make sure we aren’t overrunning the medical system. We’re not even going to get into how many medical facilities in underprivileged areas are barely able to keep up without a pandemic going around, because that’s a super angry rant for another post. The short version is that when everybody needs specialized care, nobody can get specialized care.

Oh but my rights! My freedoms! You’re infringing on my rights and oppressing me by forcing me to wear a mask!
– I’ma stop you right there. No. This is not oppression. There is a lot, and I mean A LOOOOOOOOOT, of good information out there on actual oppression. I highly encourage you to do some independent research on the subject.

Your rights also end where mine begin and vice versa. I realize that this quickly becomes a gray area where you do have the right to refuse to wear a mask, but you don’t have the right to expose me to anything you may have by refusing to wear your mask. As for businesses requiring people to wear masks and enforcing it, if you’re unwilling or unable to wear a mask, there are a lot of curbside pickup options where you don’t have to wear your mask to get the things you need without having to worry about whether or not you need to wear a mask. Also, the mask goes over your nose AND your mouth.

How do you explain the lower cold and flu cases if Covid wasn’t just a hoax?:
– Well. For starters, it’s almost like wearing a mask and washing your hands are effective methods of preventing viral transmission. 🤷🏼‍♀️

My personal experience

My husband and I had somewhat different responses to the vaccine. We both got our first shot of Pfizer in the evening on Friday March 19. The next day we both had a sore arm, and he had a headache and felt fatigued. On Sunday I had a scratchy throat and that was it for both of us. But it wasn’t the first one I was overly worried about based on what I had been seeing as first hand responses from a lot of the people I knew who had already had both doses; so when we were due for our second shot we made sure to keep the weekend pretty open. Not that much happens during a pandemic.

We got our shots about 12:30 on a Friday afternoon. My husband’s reaction to his second vaccine was pretty minimal. I think his arm was a little bit sore the next day. By the time we went to bed about 10pm, I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong but something definitely felt off. I don’t know exactly what time the chills and body aches started, but by 3:30am they were bad enough that I had woken up and actually checked the time.

At this point I knew I probably wasn’t going to be very active that day. I remember him coming in and out of the room after he woke up, but what time that was I couldn’t say. I remembered my friend calling me around 10:30 and me taking that opportunity to move to the couch, but I was still beat. I don’t know what it is, but I always feel less like I wasted the day if I make it to the couch, even if I’m doing the exact same thing I would have been doing in bed. I had fleeting thoughts of taking an Epsom salt bath as the aches came and went in waves, alternating with chills and sweats, but I just could not muster the energy. Wanting to give my body the full chance to really recognize the virus to be able to fight it off should I encounter it in the wild, I opted not to take any pain or fever reducers if I could avoid it. One of the upsides of this being a physical response to the vaccine was that I knew the symptoms were going to be over within 24 hours.

I did my best to sip on water while I was awake, but I mostly remember just trying to find a comfortable position. If I had been more with it I’d have grabbed my pain relief cream from Leaf and Flower, but that didn’t occur to me until I was going to bed on Saturday. My daughter came home around 3:30 and by then I was able to stay awake even though I was still fairly couch bound. By 5 I managed to take a shower (felt amazing after all the sweating and aching) and had to pause a few times while getting dressed to get enough energy to make it back to the couch. By 7:30 I was a lot more interactive, and by the time I went to bed around 10:30 I was weak, but otherwise totally fine. Sunday morning I had a cough, and Monday I had a headache, but I’m pretty sure the headache was unrelated to vaccine reactions.

Was it a crappy 24 hours? Yes. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Even if it’s something I have to get as a yearly booster? Sure thing.

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