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.)