When my wife and I found out that we were both, as licensed medical workers, eligible for the Coronavirus vaccine, I have to admit, we were concerned about receiving it. We even considered declining it because of the speed it was brought to market and with little-to-no data on how it would affect us in the long term. To be clear, my wife and I believe the coronavirus is a real thing, we believe it’s not a hoax. We were, instead, concerned about the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine – its rollout seemed to be rushed (albeit, appropriately), but we had visions of greedy pharmaceutical company executives, with money clenched in their fists, laughing maniacally while sitting in their huge conference rooms, and government officials all-to-eager to have their pockets greased by smoothing the way for the populace to receive their vaccine. After all, prior to the development of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, the fastest vaccine ever developed was the Mumps Vaccine, which took 4 years. Normally, a vaccine takes 10-15 years to develop.
My wife and I talked it over, we spoke about it with other family, we researched it, we spoke to front-line healthcare friends that had already received the vaccine. We asked them about their experiences. We researched some more. It all boiled down to one thing: the real risk of contracting the virus vs. the theoretical risk of receiving the vaccine. Ultimately, we decided to get the vaccine.
I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on January 12. My left arm, where I got the shot, was sore, and I remember getting a slight headache a few hours afterwards. I didn’t take any medication for it, because during our research phase, we learned that medication may actually blunt the effectiveness of the vaccine. My arm hurt for a couple of days, which is unusual for me after receiving a vaccination, but I didn’t think much about it.
I received the second dose on February 9, exactly 28 days later. I had suffered a shoulder injury on my right side, and because of that, I wasn’t moving my right arm too much. So, I opted this time to take it on the right side. I received the dose at approximately 2:00 pm. I waited the requisite 15 minutes, and then left and went home. My family and I spent a quiet evening at home, we made a hearty chicken soup for dinner, and then we settled in, and waited to see what would happen.
About 5-6 hours after receiving the dose, I started feeling tired, started yawning, and felt a general malaise and general fatigue. I had a lot of gas, so I sat on the couch, farted a lot, and “watched” a 90-minute webinar that I had signed up for, and went to bed about 10:30pm. I have no idea if the farting has anything to do with the vaccine.
I woke up in the middle of the night feeling really bad. Both my right arm, where I received the shot, and my injured right shoulder, were in tremendous pain. Where I got the shot was high, very close to where my shoulder pain was, so it felt like it was all one wound. My arm hurt so bad, I would’ve thought it was broken if I didn’t know any better. My body ached all over, and I mean, all over. Every joint hurt. For Pete’s sake, even my skin hurt.
I tossed and turned. At one point, I thought I was going to throw up my dinner that was eaten 6 or 8 hours prior. It wasn’t that I was nauseous, thank God, but I felt like my gut motility had slowed down to nothing, and my body wanted to get rid of all the excess. I was still farting. I got up to pee, and when I got up, the belching started. At least I felt like there was now room for the food I had eaten several hours earlier.
My fever spiked, but I can’t tell you what it went to, because we didn’t measure it. My wife gave me the “Mom’s Hand Test,” and then she told me I was burning up. This was happening 10-12 hours after the dose was given.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well. I felt like crap. My body ached all over. I went as long as I could without medication to help me through it, but I couldn’t take it any longer. At about 6 or 7 am, I finally asked my wife to get me some acetaminophen. She managed to find an expired bottle, but I didn’t care. I took two 500mg tablets with just enough water to chase them down. Within 20 minutes, I could feel the aches and pains melting away. My fever went away, and I finally fell asleep.
I woke up around noon, 22 hours after receiving the vaccine. Although my body still ached, it was nothing compared to what I had experienced overnight. I took one 500mg acetaminophen and had a shower. My fitness tracker told me my heart rate was elevated most of the night, and I slept poorly, as if I needed the confirmation.
I had chills all day. I didn’t feel like eating. I had a cup of black tea and mindlessly scrolled my phone. I couldn’t stay warm inside my 71-degree house. I still felt kind of bad, but I knew I was on the mend. At 4pm, 26 hours after my shot, I drove my wife to the county facility so she could receive her second dose. After my night, she was definitely concerned about how hers would go.
We were home by 6pm, and I ate dinner. Leftover homemade chicken soup and Solomon’s Seal Tea. I felt life coming back into me, as I slurped the soup and sipped the tea. This was the first food I had eaten in 24 hours, and my body welcomed it. I warmed up, I wasn’t cold anymore.
My wife’s arm got sore just like mine. She fell asleep quickly, slept throughout the night, and woke up feeling normal, other than her arm pain where she received the vaccine. Her fitness tracker said her heart rate was elevated for most of the night, and it didn’t detect much REM sleep.
Our responses to the vaccine couldn’t have been more different, and I don’t know what it was that made it that way. We eat the same food. We go to bed at the same time. We are both quite healthy. We’re close to the same age. We weightlift. While I can only speculate why we responded so differently, it is my belief that it was the sleep quality we get leading up to the event that may define how our bodies respond to that event. For several nights, I hadn’t slept well because of my shoulder injury. I suffered a partial dislocation to my right shoulder – a condition known as a subluxation – and as a result, had slept poorly for several nights leading up to my scheduled vaccination date.
It is well documented how poor sleep quality affects our immune system, and even how efficacious a vaccine will be. What is less known, is the body’s response to a vaccination when sleep quality is poor, and perhaps this is worth studying. After all, we know that our minds and bodies don’t react well to stress when we don’t sleep well.
Even after my rough time with the Coronavirus vaccine, I still feel it is our duty to society to get it. I kept thinking, “Wow, if this is what having coronavirus feels like… I wouldn’t want anyone to go through this.” I would do it again, even if I wasn’t looking forward to it. I am all about individuality, and I am all for personal freedom, but that takes a back seat to what I feel is good for society as a whole. I encourage all of you to get the vaccine when your turn comes up.
Just get some sleep beforehand.