Vaccination Nation (#319)

I need my vaccination
Want my arm burning
Immune system strong
I need that vaccination
White blood cells learning
That COVID’s wrong…
(Sung to the tune of the Human League’s “Fascination.”)

After my post on my drive-thru vaccination, I’ve fielded questions on vaccine side effects—possibly because I got the newer, less popular Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Here are all the details you could possibly want. And some you maybe don’t.

For the Pfizer vaccine, which both Andy and his mom got, the most obvious side effect was a sore arm. Neither one had nausea for the first shot, just some fatigue. Before his second shot, I warned Andy to stay hydrated; a nurse-friend had told me that she suspected a lot of the fever, headaches, and nausea people experienced with the second shot were either caused or exacerbated by dehydration (especially common in SoCal during our recent, delightful, low-humidity wind events).

Andy stayed hydrated, but he was literally sprinting for the bathroom when he got back from his long drive for shot #2. Not because of all the water he drank, but because he had diarrhea. (Andy insists that he over-indulged in cheese the day before and diarrhea is thus NOT a side effect. I have my doubts.)

Andy insists his only real side effect was being tired for a day or two. His mom just had the sore arm. But since Andy and his mom both have Chinese-American stomachs of steel and almost never throw up, I wasn’t sure their lack of nausea was typical.

I, on the other hand, have a highly reactive stomach. I’m the sympathetic puker and had morning sickness for six damned months (also threw up during labor).

If anyone was going to hurl after being vaccinated, it’d be me.

I’ve also got a delightful vasovagal response when it comes to blood and some shots (i.e., I’m a fainter). I packed ice (for the back of my neck, helps you not pass out) and an air sickness bag for my inoculation road trip.

Andy eyed me dubiously and asked, “Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you?”

“I’ll be fine. You need to keep an eye on Baby D.”

“I’ll be fine,” Baby D declared. “You’d better drive her, Dad.”

“YOU just want us both gone so you can steal screen time and cookies, mister,” I told Baby D. “I’ll be fine. I haven’t thrown up or passed out since…”

“Since your last tetanus booster? Last August?” Andy offered, with unforgivable accuracy.

“Mom’s gonna faint, Mom’s gonna faint!” Baby D chanted.

“I did not pass all the way out,” I countered. “I just had to lie down and couldn’t see anything. Besides, I haven’t heard about people passing out. Your Engineering Cousin’s husband’s only side effect from the Johnson & Johnson shot was sleeping for two days. Two days! How awesome would that be?”

Sadly, I did not sleep for two days. But I didn’t pass out or throw up after my vaccination, despite the 11% humidity (possibly because I guzzled water all morning and throughout the weekend).

I didn’t get a headache, either. Nor did I get a fever. Yes, I popped some ibuprofen before the shot and several times over the weekend, but even when it wore off, my temperature stayed a degree or two below normal.

My left arm was sore, but the injection site hurt less—and did not hurt for as many days—as it did for other vaccinations (and cortisone shots). I could even sleep on my left side!

I definitely didn’t have my normal energy, though. On Saturday, I let Andy handle the three-mile morning dog walk (which hasn’t happened in years). I wasn’t sleepy, and I didn’t nap, but I was definitely lethrgic.

Sunday the dog and I only made it two miles. Monday morning I was still tired, but we made it three miles.

“So really,” I told Andy, “the only side effects of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccination were a sore arm and fatigue. Which is way better than being unvaccinated and risking a trip to the hospital…or the morgue.”

Still bummed I didn’t get the side effect of sleeping for 2 days, though.

(Note: Andy would like me to tell you all that there was one other side effect. He insists I was super cranky when I came back from being vaccinated. I even “yelled” at him! I would say the crankiness/ yelling was caused less by the vaccine and more by him sitting on his ass for three hours and leaving certain physical chores in the yard for his spouse with a sore arm to do when she got home. You be the judge.)



Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

38 thoughts on “Vaccination Nation (#319)”

  1. I’m not a fainter, but hubby and 17-year-old kid are. (Kid had to go through a blood draw last week and made it through the main event, but two minutes later was lying on the floor outside the elevator in the clinic hallway, struggling to stay conscious.) I’m also the one who never has any reactions to vaccinations, while the other two do. But hubby insisted he was game for the full COVID vax, so he and I both opted for the 2-shot Pfizer. And guess who had the unpleasant side effects (three days of site soreness and overall fatigue, a couple hours of spreading aches, and 24 hours of nausea) this time…with just dose 1? That would be me. Hubster almost nothing. So I’m really not looking forward to #2 now. Also thinking we might go “one and done” J&J with the kid when eligibility opens next week.

    1. Aches and nausea? Ugh. That sounds terrible. I wouldn’t be excited about dose #2, either. But the vaccine seems to be like COVID itself–you just don’t know how bad it’ll be.

      an the seventeen-year-old get J&J? I thought only Pfizer had finished clinical trials for 16 and up.

      1. You’re right. Forgot about that. Guess the kid is in for the full treatment, too. Oh, joy.

  2. House Pfizer! And when your digestion and joints are as messed up as mine are, how the hell do you even know if you’re having side effects?

    My arm hurt and I felt exactly the same kind of crappy I always feel. I call that a win.

    1. I bet yours goes down like nothing. It seems to be younger folks who’ve been having stronger reactions. I can’t decide if it’s because an older immune system is less robust or more chill.

      1. I heard that it’s the former. The stronger the immune system, the greater the reaction but I don’t know if that’s true. At least I don’t have your drive!

          1. We have a drive-through here but I couldn’t get an appointment for it. Making the appointment anywhere was tricky until about a week ago. Things have opened up as the supply has increased.

  3. I have yet to start the series, so I appreciate your insight into what might and might not happen. I’m sorry you didn’t get to sleep for 2 days. That sounds like a great side effect.

  4. This is good news!!!! I’m getting the J&J vaccine on Saturday along with my brother. I heard from friends that they got flu like symptoms the next day and felt like crap, but it only lasted 24 hours. Super happy to hear you only had nausea!

    1. Sorry, fatigue not nausea, sheesh I’ve already lost my mind and I haven’t even had the shot yet! I’ll sing your vaccine song while I go get the shot to get me pumped haha

      1. I totally sang that song during my drive up the 710. Made up all sorts of different versions. Plus rewrote the words to my son’s favorite board book, Trucks: “Trucks on the road. They can’t merge.”

  5. I would also love an excuse to sleep for two days. J&J is the vaccine being used in South Africa — right now it’s the most effective against the SA variant. Really hoping to get it, especially since it’s only one dose. Although beggars can’t be choosers at this point.

    1. Oh, good luck! I was shocked that my sister in Rwanda was able to get the Pfizer vaccine, but I guess an NGO helped Rwanda work out the logistics of deep freeze transport.

      Not sure if Pfizer is less effective against the variants or if it just wasn’t tested against them because they had their first round of clinical trials before COVID mutated. I hope ALL the vaccines work, because those variants are really spreading, especially in Florida.

      1. I saw on the news today that SA is about to get a big shipment of Pfizer doses, so I think it works. Sadly Astra Zeneca is the one vaccine that does NOT work well with the SA variant, which they discovered right as SA was about to start rolling that one out. So the roll-out was delayed (we got J&J instead, a week or two later) and I’m not sure what ultimately happened to all those Astra Zeneca doses that were no longer useful here

  6. I got up this morning at 5 a.m. and hit the treadmill for over an hour, so clearly, fatigue isn’t bothering me. Just a very sore arm. I keep waiting to feel something more, but so far, nada.

      1. I was very adamant about distancing and wearing a mask, and nagged those in my circles who didn’t seem to care. But to a certain extent, we owe these vaccines to them as well. Without a high rate of infection, efficacy could not have been proven in such record time. One couldn’t run a Covid vaccine clinical trial in Australia or South Korea without enrolling hundreds of thousands of people, until there were enough severe cases to be able to compare the vaccine to the placebo. So… I’m less pissed now when I see people who don’t care.

        1. Actually, the way Pfizer and others run clinical trials has nothing to do with the general populace and its infection rate. They might not have had as many volunteers if the pandemic hadn’t been so deadly, however. And they started the trials in May 2020 (the U.S. would hit 100,000 deaths at the end of the month).

          So you were (and are!) right to be seriously pissed at everyone who would not take reasonable precautions like a mask and social distancing. The more people that get infected, the more mutations occur in the virus, which means more potentially deadly variants. It’s now a race to see if we can reach herd immunity before one of the more transmissible variants mutates into a strain that the vaccines offer no protection against. As blogger 2Summers already pointed out, the Astra Zeneca vaccine is already useless against variant raging in South Africa.

          1. Well… without getting into details, let’s think of Ebola: where would it make more sense to test a vaccine candidate – in California or in West Africa?
            If you have more time to read, then here a few scenarios. For Covid vaccine, the goal was to reduce the number of cases with severe illness. Using just simple math, not statistics (because it would take me more time to bring that from the depths of my forgetful brain), let’s say it is already known that from 2,000 people who came in contact with the virus, 95 get severely sick. If 2,000 subjects get the vaccine and 2,000 get the placebo, and no vaccinated subject becomes severely ill, efficacy is proven. This means that at least 4,000 subjects need to be enrolled in the study. But these subjects are not locked in a room and sprayed with Covid, so a much larger sample must be taken to ensure that at least 2000 were exposed to Covid. In Australia about 0.5% of the population has been exposed, while in the US about 30% has been (assuming that for every person that was confirmed positive, there are 3 people who are positive but not tested). To get 2000 exposed people, about 400,000 people would be needed in Australia and about 6,700 people would be needed in US. These numbers are loosely based on the current cumulative cases, over one year, but we don’t know if the vaccine protects for 1 year, so the sample sizes may be even larger, not to mention that after the studies started in the summer, the numbers in Australia dropped close to 0. So unless they recruited 400,000 subjects in mid April, by September that window of opportunity would have been closed. The cost of enrolling 400,000 subjects is prohibitive. And the time it takes to get sufficient data depends on how fast people are exposed. At the current average of 10 cases per day in Australia and about 65,000 cases per day in US, there are 0.5 cases per million in Australia and about 200 cases per day per million in the US. It would take forever to get enough cases in Australia.

            Regarding mutations, my hope is that the mRNA technology would be able to tackle it fast and the kind of studies necessary to approve the vaccine would be less time-consuming, if some of the existing information could be used. Yes, in an ideal world I would have liked the entire globe to behave like Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, especially the developed countries who could afford to mask everyone, and who has enough soap and water to wash for 20 seconds as many times as necessary. But what can we do if so many people believe in conspiracy theories? I think they were traumatized as children when they found out that for their entire lives the whole world managed to trick them into doing their chores and behaving well in order to receive gifts from fat guys coming through a chimney. And if he doesn’t exist, who ate the milk and cookies? Adults are big fat liars!!! From there to microchips is just a short distance.

            1. Ah, thanks for explaining. Now I see where you are going with the massive exposure analogy–you mean that since the COVID clinical trials didn’t expose their subjects deliberately to the virus, it helped that the virus was rampant in the United States and so many of the vaccinated volunteers and the control group were repeatedly exposed to it–proving the vaccine’s efficacy more quickly than in countries like Taiwan, where exposure was less likely. A valid point, though not much comfort to family and friends of those lost.

              As for the Santa analogy, I’d buy it except that so many people who believe in conspiracy theories are evangelicals; they still believe in everything from magic underwear to dinosaurs being planted by the devil several thousand years ago. Many of them are primed from an early age to think, “Everyone who doesn’t believe what you take on faith is deluded. Only YOU know the truth, because you are special, and thus you will be rewarded.” That sort of early brainwashing can really prime a person psychologically for conspiracy theories–even (or maybe especially!) the ones thatare easily disproven by a modicum of research (pedophile rings holding children the basement of a pizzeria that doesn’t have a basement, for example). They become used to accepting feelings and opinions as facts and (to borrow from George Orwell), “reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

              1. I can’t agree with you more. It is often futile to reason with such misguided folks. Perhaps only if/when they contracted the virus will they wake up, but then it could be too late.

                Needless to say, due to misinformation and disinformation, 2020 had been a difficult year, not to mention having to deal with the pandemic. It was all quite surreal, perhaps in some ways more bizarre than ghosts and the paranormal (not that I believe in such things). One could say that we live in interesting times indeed, but often for the wrong reasons. I have had to coin a new term: Viral Falsity.

                Like you, I have highlighted many of the most fundamental causes of the most pressing social ills and civic matters through my writings, and I hope that I have indeed shed very good light on these thorny issues in my latest and much expanded post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity“.

                Keep up the good work!

                Yours sincerely,

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