How would you answer this question?
Mom and I have gotten our first COVID-19 vaccine and the relief I feel is palpable. We can not and will not let our guard down even after this process is complete, but the anxiety of trying to get an appointment and the feeling of comfort it brings to know we have started the process is real.
Mom was nervous about getting vaccinated because when she gets sick it is never a mild case, it is severe and takes her down for the count. I am proud that despite her fear of a possible reaction, she agreed to the shot with her doctor’s OK and grateful she did not feel pain at the injection site or have a reaction. We have discussed how reactions to the second shot are often more severe and I know she will not sleep the night before.
I did not go to the same vaccination site as mom and received a different vaccine. My only reaction was soreness at the injection site for two days, especially when I lifted my arm. About an hour after the shot, I started to get a headache and then remembered someone had suggested that you hydrate before getting the vaccine. Once I drank some water, the headache never materialized.
I didn’t give much thought to the vaccine process ahead of time, then before being given the shot, the nurse asked if I had any allergies and I thought to what? It was then that I realized I could have read up on the components of my vaccine since my confirmation letter told me which one was being given at the site.
Like many folks, I ask everyone I know, “Did you get vaccinated?” “Which shot did you get?” “Did you have a reaction?” It’s like trying to look into a crystal ball to see if the second shot from one manufacturer has a more severe reaction than another. The truth is everyone’s body is different and deciding to wait for an appointment for a particular manufacturer’s vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t have a reaction. Even so, I appreciate hearing about other people’s experience and what worked for them.
Drink a LOT of water before and after. Eat before you go. Take a short walk before and after. These were suggestions I could get behind and I’m grateful for the idea to hydrate. Without it, I would not have thought to drink more water after getting the vaccine.
Like many people, I was told not to take ibuprofen, aspirin or acetaminophen before the vaccine because we don’t know how these medications may affect how well it works. There were differing opinions about when you should stop taking them and that is the first lesson I learned. Talking to people for insight and following Facebook groups is fine, but don’t take everything you hear as correct.
According to the CDC, if you take these medications for other reasons regularly, you should keep taking them. The CDC website has great insight into each of the vaccines and it is constantly being updated. Even before your scheduled appointment, I recommend that you spend some time on this site: COVID-19 vaccine. The site is robust and is broken down into various sections of information. For example what you need to know before the vaccine advises those thinking about getting a vaccine (e.g. shingles) to wait two weeks between shots. The section on what you need to know after the vaccine helped me to understand what precautions mom and I needed to continue to follow and why. For example even though we are vaccinated, there has not been enough time to determine if we can be carriers without symptoms, so we will continue to wear a mask. There is also the question of how long immunity lasts. Currently, the vaccines appear to last for six months because that is the data we have starting with the trials. These questions and others will be answered as we continue to gather data over the next two years.
Getting the vaccine is voluntary and really requires each family to weigh the risks and benefits. I do urge you to follow the science and not rely on word of mouth or social media. Before you decide, if you are uncomfortable with anything you hear or read, talk to your doctor.
For mom and me, the benefits outweigh the risks.
Here in the Northeast, we saw the devastation this disease brought to hospitals and families early in the pandemic. Our family has been extraordinarily lucky and we are grateful. Although some younger members tested positive, they did not get terribly ill. Our elders have remained COVID free and no one has died. Still, friends of ours have lost loved ones and others who became ill are still dealing with the aftermath and may never have the same level of physical health. One friend is a “COVID19 long hauler” and has been participating in NIH global data collection for almost a year and has volunteered for two new studies. For this reason, mom and I decided to participate in the V-safe after vaccination health checker program. Once a week we get a simple survey to fill out over my smartphone. It allows the CDC to gather data on reactions and to reach out to you if needed.
I can’t wait to..
Feeling protected from COVID-19 is the first and foremost reason we decided to get the vaccine. For me more than mom, it is the ability to live a more normal social life. I can’t wait to host impromptu gatherings with neighbors. I really want my new puppy to have play dates with other puppies in our neighborhood that he greets on our walks. I miss weekend getaways to the Poconos with college friends. I can’t wait until we can have holidays with the extended family and get to do the Italian hello and goodbye hugs and kisses. I know we are not out of the woods yet and will still need to use masks and socially distance or have windows open while we are together. But finally, it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train coming at us full speed.
What is it you can’t wait to do?
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find the resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: Free 30 minute consulting call
Deb is the author of “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract.” This book explains how to have an intentional conversation and the how unspoken expectations can cause problems. Click here to learn more about Your Caregiver Relationship Contract.