141. Built Antibody Tough

Friday March 26 2021

Not gonna lie. While I was sending positive thoughts over these past few months to Big Pharma to develop a viable COVID-19 vaccine, I was a little squinty-eyed on the real possibility of this happening. Sure, I thought, they can deliver something, but will it be effective?

Will it be safe?

Today, I’m saying yes, because science. This type of vaccine, mRNA, has actually been researched for decades and has been studied for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). (source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html)

mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.


So now that I have both the confidence and eligibility, it’s time to roll up my sleeve. I tried to make an appointment near me, but the demand for vaccinations is still higher than the supply chain can handle. Not a problem, I’m able to get a spot at a pharmacy that’s only about a twenty minute drive away. I can still make this appointment and get to the office at a reasonable-ish time.

I’m a bit edgy, as I tend to be when doing something unfamiliar. The pharmacy is inside a grocery, which also has a Starbucks. I walk past the caffeine-generating kiosk making a mental note of what I’ll order as my celebratory drink for going outside my comfort zone. At the pharmacy window, the clerk takes my name, asks my arm of preference, then gives me my vaccination card and tells me to wait to be called. Once finally seated in the Chair of Vax, I brace for the little prick they always warn you about. No warning this time and the needle stick is painless. I don’t even feel it, making me wonder if it actually happened. But I get a band-aid anyway and told to sit for another fifteen minutes, presumably to ensure I don’t swell up or mutate or something.

What’s just a bit odd about the experience is not the assembly line feel of it, because let’s face it, that’s how healthcare works in the US. But it was weird there were no health questions asked and no vitals taken. No thermometer or blood pressure cuff made an appearance. I don’t even know the credentials of the young lady who got so invasive on my deltoid. Was she a nurse or pharmacist, or maybe a grocery bagger between customers? Did they pull her off the loading dock for the morning? I didn’t think to ask.

But other than that, everything was easy peasy lemon squeezy, so I grab a couple of grocery items and a vanilla latte to continue my day as if all is well in the world.

At work that afternoon, I have an upset stomach, but hey, that’s nothing new for this anxiety girl. I’m feeling pretty good about this no-side-effect thing. The good ol’ immune system is doing its job just fine.

I get hit by the anti-body truck somewhere that night, I’m guessing about sixteen hours post-vax. I’m obviously delusional, because I still get up in the morning to shower and dress like I can actually go into the office, somehow ignoring that quiet sobbing when I couldn’t get the cap open on the shampoo because my hands hurt so bad. My vax arm is a useless appendage and every joint in my body is screaming. I take my temp and yep, running a fever. This is obviously not going to be a productive day. I text the office and give my apologies.

I didn’t expect this reaction, I really didn’t. After all, I’ve been getting flu vaccinations every year with never a side-effect. But since sharing this with others, I find there’s more than anecdotal evidence that those who had a mild case of coronavirus prior to the first vax shot are more likely to have this over-the-top response.

They say your anti-bodies are stilled riled up from the last fight.

“What’s this now?” say my anti-bodies as they hike up their pants. “This asshole again? Stand back, boss, we got this.”

Stand back, indeed. There was no standing to be had that day. It was sofa or bed. Or yeah, the bathroom because I was trying to hydrate.

The good news is that it only lasted about one day. I went to bed early after dosing on acetaminophen and woke up feeling much more hopeful about the future.

I’m worried about vax #2, which is coming up in a month, yet so many are saying that the next shot will be easier. I want to believe this, but kinda feel burnt about having a positive attitude with this last one. Still, it’s only one day or so, compared to a full-blown COVID-19 infection, so it’s worth it to buckle up for the bumpy ride.

My advice to those who haven’t received their vaccinations yet is to get plenty of fluids in you before and after your shot. I might have not done a good job there myself. And plan on taking a vacation day after your shot.

Because you just don’t know how your body will react. It might be nothing. Or you might find yourself binge-watching day-time television on the sofa while sipping a ginger ale. All I’m saying here is prepare yourself, people.

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