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I felt totally fine after my first COVID-19 shot, but the second dose was rough. Here's what I did to manage the side effects and why I still think you should get the shot.

Published by Business Insider on Sat, 09 Jan 2021


<p><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5ff8beffd184b30018aadd9e-2316/image_6487327 (1).JPG" border="0" alt="Joy Henningsen" data-mce-source="Joy Henningsen" data-mce-caption="Joy Henningsen receiving the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on January 7."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>I was extremely fortunate to receive the initial dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/radiologist-alabama-covid-pfizer-vaccine-shares-what-it-was-like-2020-12">on December 17</a>, the first week it was offered in the United States outside of a clinical trial. My hospital received doses in the first national shipment and every healthcare worker at my hospital who expressed interest via survey received the vaccine, including me.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>I barely felt the first shot, aside from very subtle arm soreness a day or so later.&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>I also signed up to log my symptoms on the CDC's <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/vsafe.html#anchor_1607560764339">V-Safe online symptom tracker</a> tool. My reporting was wholly uneventful; thankfully, as expected, I had no symptoms that impacted my life or activities in any way.&nbsp;</p><p>I wondered if I'd be as lucky after the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/fda-says-dont-mix-vaccines-halve-doses-extend-time-shots-2021-1'op=1">second dose</a>, when more people have reported uncomfortable <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/pfizer-coronavirus-vaccine-side-effects-and-safety-for-covid-19-2020-12">side effects</a>.</p><p><em><strong>Read more</strong>: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/investors-predict-acquisition-sprees-amazon-google-in-2021-2020-12" data-analytics-position="12" data-analytics-module="">Investors think Amazon and Alphabet could set the pace for healthcare deals in 2021. Here's what they are watching.</a></em></p><h2><strong>Before I knew how my body would react to the second dose, I prepared myself for the possibility of feeling lousy for a day or two afterward.</strong></h2><p><strong><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5ff8c323bde805001980bf6a-2400/image_67189761.JPG" border="0" alt="Joy Henningsen" data-mce-source="Joy Henningsen" data-mce-caption="Henningsen prepared some the counter pain medications for after the shot."></strong></p><p>If it were an option, I would have scheduled the day off work after the second vaccination to be safe. For me that wasn't possible, so I scheduled a grocery delivery before my shot and purchased the same items I'd buy if I had a cold or the flu (water, soup, crackers, etc.) I also made sure my pets were stocked up with plenty of food and water.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>In addition to comfort food and hydrating liquids, I cobbled together a "vaccine valise" of other supplies to have on hand.</strong></h2><p>This included an under-tongue thermometer to monitor my temperature and over-the-counter fever reducers. For the whiplash back and forth between fever and chills that some people have reported, I set out washcloths to be used as cold compresses. I also put a weighted blanket and a down comforter near my bed.</p><h2><strong>I received my vaccine in the afternoon on January 7.</strong></h2><p><strong><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5ff8c0c4bde805001980bf56-2400/image_67185921.JPG" border="0" alt="The second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine that Henningsen received." data-mce-source="Joy Henningsen" data-mce-caption="The second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine that Henningsen received."></strong></p><p>I felt fine until the six-hour mark, when I began to feel a sense of malaise (the medical word for that vague feeling when you know something isn't quite right at the beginning of feeling sick).&nbsp;</p><p>Mild muscle aches soon followed, as well as injection site soreness that felt similar to how a tetanus shot feels, that is, a little worse than a flu shot. I fell asleep but not restfully; I woke up at the 12-hour mark with a 102-degree fever and chills that subsided by morning. Still, when I woke up the muscle aches persisted, and I had a dull headache similar to what I'd feel if I skipped my daily coffee. 24 hours later, the headache, exhaustion, chills, and "blah" feeling is still here.</p><p>Still, all of my symptoms are mild and a very small price to pay for protection against COVID-19. I believe temporary discomfort should not be a deterrent to receiving the vaccine, and I know these symptoms are a sign of a robust immune system and that my body is priming itself to fight COVID-19exactly what it is supposed to do.</p><p><em><strong>Read more</strong>: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-lowes-employers-pbgh-haven-healthcare-stealth-venture-2021-1" data-analytics-position="2" data-analytics-module="">A group backed by huge employers like Walmart, Lowe's, and Microsoft is working on a new initiative to lower healthcare costs</a></em></p><h2><strong>It's important we're prepared for the possibility of these side effects.&nbsp;</strong></h2><p><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5ff8c419bde805001980bf6f-1582/image_6483441.JPG" border="0" alt="Joy Henningsen" data-mce-source="Joy Henningsen" data-mce-caption="Henningsen with her vaccine form."></p><p>The Pfizer vaccine was vetted by the US Food and Drug Administration which determined that it was safe to be given to people over 16. Millions of Americans need to be prepared for the authorized COVID-19 vaccines' potential side effects such as fatigue, headache, muscle pains, fever, and chills that are more common with the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/pfizer-coronavirus-vaccine-side-effects-and-safety-for-covid-19-2020-12">second dose</a>. For the majority of recipients, these potential effects may be an uncomfortable, but not threatening, part of this vaccine.&nbsp;</p><p>According to <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/fauci-up-to-90-population-needs-vaccine-for-herd-immunity-2020-12">Dr. Anthony Fauci's latest projections</a>, we need approximately 90% of Americans to be immunized to achieve herd immunity in order to resume normal life. I believe it's our civic responsibility to be vaccinated according to the recommended dose regimen to end the pandemic. We all benefit.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It's smart to prepare yourself for the possibility that dose two of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines may be slightly more challenging. Still, having seen the destruction SARS-CoV-2 can wreak upon the body, I can tell you I'd rather have a night of feeling lousy on the couch watching Netflix <em>any day </em>over serious COVID-19.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/barriers-to-getting-covid-19-vaccines-to-rural-americans-2020-12" >Why getting COVID-19 vaccines to rural Americans is harder than it looks</a></strong></p><p><strong>READ MORE:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/doctor-in-uk-who-got-one-first-covid-19-vaccines-2020-12" >I'm a UK doctor who got one of the first COVID-19 vaccines. I had mixed emotions about getting the shot, but I have every faith in the process.</a></strong></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/pfizer-second-covid-vaccine-shot-side-effects-doctor-2021-1#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/what-if-jump-off-international-space-station-2018-6">What would happen if you jumped off the International Space Station</a></p>
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