So, a few weeks ago I wrote about getting my first dose of the COVID vaccine, and as promised here’s part 2! I received my second dose over the weekend, and while it wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, it was not the worst experience of my life. All my advice from part 1 still applies, but the effects of the second dose can be a little more potent, so I wanted to share my experience with that.
First off, be aware that my experience may not match up with yours. From what I’ve seen, everyone has different reactions to the vaccine, from feeling almost nothing, to feeling worse than they’ve ever felt. But it’s important to remember, no matter where you fall on that spectrum, you will be fine. The vaccine is an mRNA vaccine and is training your immune system to fight the COVID-19 virus, so unlike the flu shot it’s not exposing you to any viruses.
WebMD has a great video that explains how the COVID-19 vaccine works. It’s worth watching if, like me, your anxiety is eased by knowledge. Slight trigger warning for people who have a fear of needles, it does show an animated visualization of the vaccine being administered. You can find the video here.
So, how did I feel? Pretty awful, but not as bad as some people. For about a day I my entire body was very sore, and I had a splitting headache. The good news was that I slept through most of it, except when I woke up every 2 – 3 hours to chug a 32oz bottle of water. Honestly, from what I understand, it could have been a lot worse if I didn’t drink so much water.
Which brings me to my first piece of advice; DRINK ALL THE WATER! Seriously. I happened to have the aforementioned 32oz water bottle already, but if you don’t have a refillable water bottle definitely get one. Drink as much water as you can about an hour or so before your appointment, and keep drinking water after. I have no way to compare how I felt to how I would have felt if I didn’t drink as much water as I did, but from my understanding it would have been a lot worse.
Second, get some rest. After you get home just relax for a bit, and head to bed when you start feeling a bit tired. For me it was about 7 hours after my shot, but your milage may vary. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but make sure your water bottle is full when you go to bed, and keep it next to you. Make sure you don’t have anything to do the next day, take the day off work if you have to, and just rest. If you end up feeling fine then awesome, just enjoy your day, but if not you’ll be glad you planned ahead.
Most importantly, listen to your body. If you’re thirsty, drink water. If you’re tired, sleep. If you’re hungry, eat whatever you feel you can stomach (or be a little crazy like me, and DoorDash some tacos).
Whatever happens, however you end up feeling, you will be fine, and it will be worth it. As I’m writing this, I’m a little stiff where I got the shot, and I’m still pretty drained, but emotionally I feel better than I have at any point this past year. Yeah it takes about 2 weeks for the full effect of the vaccine to take hold, but I still feel an overwhelming sense of relief. For the first time since March 2020 I feel a little bit of hope.
I do, however, know that this transition back to relative normalcy is going to be a scary prospect for a lot of people, including myself. I’m going to be writing a part 3 of sorts discussing these challenges, and my thoughts on how we can overcome them. So stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I hope this post helps those of you who are anxious about the vaccine. Believe me, I know how scary it is, but I know you can do it!