I Got My Covid-19 Vaccine Today: Side effects, and reflecting on this crazy year

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Health worker injecting me with the Moderna vaccine for Covid-19 at a local grocery store – Photo: JDUy

Moderna is the name. A company I’d never heard of till about 10 months or so ago. It’s a company that created a vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic. The second to do so after Pfizer did it first a couple of weeks prior. It is an mRNA vaccine — get it “ModeRNA.” Both of these vaccines require two doses to be fully effective. They are done 3 or 4 weeks apart.

First, I’d just like to summarize my experience getting the vaccine and the after effects. And then some additional thoughts, maybe, about the virus and … everything.

Side Effects I Am Having from the Moderna Covid Vaccine

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

  • 2:30 pm — Injection completed , left ahoulder. No discomfort.
  • 2:45 pm — Numbness in my tongue and left side of lip, weird taste. (glucose 110 mg/dL).
  • 8 pm — Mild pain in left shoulder (Glucose 110 mg/dL).
  • 11 pm — More significant shoulder pain.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

  • 12:30 am — Not feeling well. Like I’m becoming ill with cold or flu. Kind of buzzing in my legs. Very sudden onset. (Glucose 106 mg/dL) No fever (96.3 F).
  • 2:20 am — Wave seems to have passed. (96.7 F).
  • 3:30 am — Nightmare woke me up. Legs feel odd, like warm. No fever. (96.6 F)
  • 8 am — Belly upset — don’t know if it is related. Arm less sore.
    11 am — Arm almost no discomfort. Belly is still upset. No fever (96.5).
  • 10 pm — All was mostly fine for the day, except arm started hurting again about an hour ago. Weird. No fever. No abnormal glucose readings.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

  • 8 am — My arm hurt last night and is still sore this morning. A little surprised at that. But otherwise seem to be fine. Tree pollen is everywhere, so just dealing with that instead.

Monday, March 22, 2021

5 pm to 8 am — Odd migraine all night long after doing yard work and being in sun in the afternoon. Probably not related? 2 Tylenol.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Feet have been burning a lot lately. They do on and off each year. Last night and today, I have been having cramps in my hands and also in my feet — out of the ordinary. The only other thing I’m taking is Loratidine for spring allergies. Not been sleeping well. Not blaming Moderna for this, but it is odd. Going to blame allergy meds for now. Feel kind of achy like a cold is coming on, especially in my elbows to my wrists area. Hmm. Making me nervous about getting the 2nd shot. Will skip the allergy meds fro a while.

Vaccination Fascination

The vaccine was given in the food court of the local Giant grocery store. There was a line of people to get in, not too long. And a side area for people waiting to get out — to make sure they did not have a reaction to the vaccine. Reports say some people have had anaphylactic shock, and others mysteriously died soon after. So, each person has been directed to sit and wait for 15 minutes before leaving.

The physician doing the check-in asked for my confirmation number. And then filled in a 2nd Appointment Card. She also handed me a clipboard and directed me to fill in the front and back. Then put my used pen in a used-pen collection cup; the clipboard in a different receptacle.

There was only one other medical worker there doing the shots, and each one took 5 minutes or more. So, it took a while — 40 minutes maybe — to get the actual shot. The first worker gave a speech explaining the vaccine, that it was not FDA approved, but was being used on an emergency use basis. She said it could cause symptoms as it worked it’s way through the immune system response — fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, chills: basically, flu-like symptoms. And if we had any problem while waiting, to please feel free to come back down and let the two of them know.

She came over had me sit at a small table to my shot, because too many people were backed up waiting for the second medical worker. She was very direct and focused, and asked if it were my first or second shot (first); if I had any previous severe reactions to any vaccine before; and if I was immune compromised. The same questions that were on the sheet.

I lifted up my sleeve and she wiped my shoulder with alcohol, and after a moment, she stuck the needle in and injected the vaccine really quick. It did not hurt or anything. She put a band-aid on it, and sent me on my way.

To be honest, I was a bit wary of getting the vaccine I’d spent too much time reading the negatives and rare cases of mortal and severe reactions. Sometimes, it may be better not to know about these things.

Well, I went and sat down between the white cloth dividers, and self-monitored my body. Almost immediately, I could feel it in my tongue. A lot of injected drugs mess with the nerves in my mouth. Intravenous saline flushes taste terrible. Insulin makes my tongue go numb a bit. Other chemicals I inhale have similar effects, like cleaners that are wafting around. I got some acetone on the back of my hand and it was in my mouth in a few moments, somehow, for hours later.

Well, this vaccine shot did similar — and as I write this, it is mostly on the left side, half-way back. “Tastes” kind of like salt and blood. But I don’t think it is taste — rather it is affecting my nerves again. They have gone half numb. And I’m not freaking out too much about it, but it is 7 hours later and it has not let up yet. Kind of wary about the next shot.

Beyond the tongue numbness and odd “taste” the only other effect is a sore arm so far.

Cafe area of Giant Food grocery store which was participating in the coronavirus vaccine program in conjunction with the D.C. government registration system. A diverse set of city residents wait patiently to receive their shots. — Photo; JDUy.

Relying On the Government for the Right Policies & Procedures

I had made this appointment for the shot through the DC Vaccine Registration portal. It had been an imperfect system at best — and communication about the procedural details had been sketchy, between the city and my hospital, about how to obtain a vaccine — where, and when, and who qualifies. They have had “tiers” — like 1A for people 75 and older and frontline emergency workers. 1B for 65 and up and essential workers, and prisoners, and I don’t know who else. 1C and then 2 for people with pre-existing health conditions; and 3 for the general public. It was a somewhat clear concept at first, but seemed to blur in the past couple of weeks.

The Federal response has been, at best, terrible. And that is primarily because of the awful Republican-coordinated debacle. Whatever the problems were for what was said and not done, the fact now are: There are 3 vaccines available (Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson); and the vaccines are being given to the public for free. Sing Hallelujah!

It’s be a struggle to have patience with the computer system and random nature of “priority zip codes,” and targeted demographics. I don’t want to seem too ridiculously self-centered, but one of priorities was to get the vaccine to people of color, who were reportedly being disproportionately affected. The headlines claimed POC were not responding to the vaccine system and locations, and the reasons given were of multiple possible concerns — from people working without time off, to transportation issues and lack of communications technology to register, to suspicion of the medical establishment. So, to fix this, the city created a targeting effort where they would concentrate on disproportionately affected zip codes, aka those primarily populated by African-Americans. And, well — the effect seems mixed at best. The city is almost 50-50 black-to-white populations nowadays, with some smaller populations of Latinos and Asians included. Last week, the reports were that 30% of whites had the vaccine vs. 20% of black people. And then then only 2% of the Latino population. So, yes, some disparity. To be honest, I was shocked at 20-30% of anybody had gotten their vaccine already.

But the zip code targeting was a little goofy, too. For example, I lived in the building across the street for several years. The dividing line runs through the middle of that block, so it is a different zip code across the street. If I had lived there still, I would have been considered part of the “priority zip code” population; and therefore could have gotten my vaccine a couple of week earlier. Now, I didn’t change my demographics by moving across the street. And the neighborhood is no different on this side than that side. And many luxury residences have popped-up in the “priority zip code” now. Many, many younger people who are not lacking means to get a vaccine, who are not people of color, who are not lacking access. So, it all just started to seem to get muddy and that frustrated a lot of people across the city. That combined with the lottery-like, mad rush to get registered on websites that could not handle capacity. Plenty of blame to go around: It’s the former Administration’s fault. It is Microsoft’s fault. It is the supply chain’s fault. It is the fault of a society that doesn’t provide mobility and access for the poor and elderly. I’m sure all of that was true, but it was painful to be so close to getting a vaccine, and yet, no clear explanation of the hold up.

So, eventually, I did qualify in one of “the tiers.” The website and government processes were downgraded from lotteries and waiting lists, to a more reasonable and less desperate registry where people would be “randomly” chosen and certain percentages would be reserved for certain populations and demographics. I registered and so did my co-worker, my ex and his spouse. Well, I got a “call back” to register for an appointment a couple of days later by email. But they have not heard anything for a week.

No joke, though — I cried when I got the email. I don’t know what for. Just from all of the frustration and stress and loneliness that this year has put upon virtually everyone, to varying degrees. Tears at seeing some semblance of hope, and restoration of belief that we can get back to expected norms.

Late in the summer of 2020, misguided protests like this one took to the streets to proclaim that DC's own neighborhood residents did not have a right to eat publicly or live in the neighborhood in which they lived. Senseless, misdirected anger and boredom run amok.
Late in the summer of 2020, misguided protests like this one took to the streets to proclaim that DC’s own neighborhood residents did not have a right to eat publicly (restaurant on right) or live in the neighborhood in which they lived. Senseless anger and boredom run amok, made a mockery of BLM’s original intent. — Photo: JDUy.

A Misbehaved New World

Not that it was a perfect world before March 2020, but cabin fever, isolation and constant concern are really taxing many people’s existence. Too much time to be cerebral and reflective and opinionated. Too much time watching “the news” to be told that it’s all doom and gloom and everything is going wrong. Too much time spent looking for alternative means of earning a living, and analyzing the markets, the Fed, the stimulus checks, and the possibility that World’s Worst Ding-Dong might be returning to the Presidency in a couple of years — unpunished and undiminished in the eyes of his inexplicably dazzled followers.

To be honest, I do look forward to not needing the masks, but I kind of liked that people were forced to keep their distance from one another. I didn’t mind not seeing their whole faces. It’s hard to convey kindness without a visible smile. But then you make up for it by being respectful. I did not mind that people were muted, and even absent much of the time, from my wild-weekend, bar-focused neighborhood. I walked many more miles than I would have done otherwise — safely and indoors as it were. I loaded up on Vitamin D and save a good amount of cash. Reports claim many Americans did similarly, with some 35% increase in savings on average.

As far as masks, in this area, most people complied willfully. On TV, and through personal reports from acquaintances, that does not seem to have been the case in other parts of the country. People just refused to wear masks in some areas as a protest against government, and then others just wanted to party, believing it was no big deal. Over half a million people died from Covid — that’s a big deal. But here, the average people did comply with protecting themselves and others– people who were not at 1600 Penn Ave or in conservative circles. Unfortunately, masks just became a symbol of who was behaving in a civil and responsible way, and who was fashioning themselves as a radical outsider. I’d like to think that the rational people mostly won the day.

Q-Anon and conservative activists draped themselves in faux-patriotism to protest the legitimate election results.
Q-Anon and conservatives activist draped themselves in faux-patriotism to protest the legitimate election results, and fill their heads with falsehoods at a gathering led by America’s worst conspiracy fabricators. — Photo: JDUy

I will not miss the racial tumult and protests that this city experienced — not from BLM-associating advocates, nor from the Q-Anon freak show, nor the ones who came through and spray-painted every bare wall and box, fence, barrier and sidewalk in our area –with their personal anger and vanity. The breaking of store windows, and looting, and fires and violence. And, oh, the noise — motorcycles, muscle cards and firecrackers night after night. Not just here, but in cities across the nation. It really repulsed me, personally — that people, who were supposedly taking a stand against lawless government authority, decided to respond by being lawless themselves. I’ve been to many protests in my decades here — to observer and report — but this past year, not much of it made sense. Occasionally beautiful and inspiring when focused, but descending into ugly mayhem too often, too. There was a point, but it was lost by the end of the summer when activists were screaming nonsense at outdoor diners that they were gentrifying and did not belong in the neighborhood. That someone like me did not not belong in my own neighborhood after 25 years of living here. I mean, the whole point was “stay home” and “keep your distance” and instead, people got bored and “involved” and massed together by the tens of thousands here. In fairness, there were obvious differences between the “left” and “right” protestors — masks for the former, and proud bare-faced stupidity for the latter.

As far as their targeted goals, not a lot seems to have changed. Some multi-million dollar payouts for a couple of those who died at the hands of irresponsible police. And Biden back in the White House, temporarily. He’s doing a better job than the Human Dumpster Fire that was there for four years. The “domestic terrorism” at the Capitol was perhaps the worst of humanity on display — paranoia and hate run amok. But Covid is still here, the costs of operating and greed have not been diminished, and the ire and foolish conspiracies still abound. Homelessness is everywhere you look, mini-tent cities in every downtown area. It has been an inexplicable year of people trying to make an effort to improve the world, in turn being torn down and thwarted by the lowest, most selfish and self-serving among us. Fueled by the “spare time” that Covid relief efforts caused — but what did any of it have to do with coronavirus itself? Misplaced and mistimed priorities, perhaps.

And yet, I still have hope and optimism. That we will collectively come to our senses, and do a little better. Will eventually get things cleaned up and be orderly again. That art and creativity and friendships will return some day.

If there is a Universal Observer out there somewhere, it would be nice if Tey would put their Celestial Foot down and say: “Enough already. Quit your bickering, and get back to being loving and generous, and back to exploring the beautiful, mysterious world that I gave you.” 12 months of crazy, and yet, some decent people have been out there, saving lives, providing comfort and care, and going about life as best they could. Wish I’d done a better job of it myself, but I chose to just stay out of trouble and to not put myself or anyone else in jeopardy because of my needs. One day we’ll all look back at this and laugh, right?

After I got my vaccine and got back home, and dealt with the effects for a day; I got an email, from my hospital — it said, “Please click to register for an appointment for your first sars-covid-19 vaccine.” Now, you invite me? Uh, duh. Just a terribly imperfect period — no one has ever done this before, so chains of communication can’t be expected to be perfected. I just wish I could transfer my double-opportunity on to one of my many needy friends. No one I associate with wants to wait another day. Get it to them now, they all deserve to have it now. Everyone who wants the vaccines deserves to get one, now, please. For our shared physical and mental health.