Timing my third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was tricky. I needed my flu vaccine by the end of October as a requirement for work, and that took priority. And I needed to space out vaccines to accommodate my race schedule, as I ran my virtual marathon the weekend before Halloween, and coached the Richmond marathon on November 13th. And then there’s another race coming up: the Freight Train 50k on December 11th. I didn’t want to feel under the weather for any of these events, nor did I want my immune system to already be down and out from running high miles when I got my vaccine.
I was considering waiting until after the ultramarathon to finally get my booster, but the sudden emergence of the Omicron variant changed my plans. I found myself seeking an appointment online as soon as we got home from vacation. If you want to do the same, follow this link to find locations for the vaccine in your area.
So, which one did I get? My original series was Pfizer, as I was in the first group to receive the vaccine as a healthcare provider. I was relieved, and this is the version I wanted. But as time has marched along with this virus and its evolution into more virulent variants has occurred, Moderna seems to be winning the test of providing longer efficacy. Even in my hospital, it seems that most of the breakthrough cases we have seen from the Delta variant are from patients who were more than 6 months out from the Pfizer vaccine. I’m placing my bets on mixing types. I got Moderna.
So Monday night, I walked into my local Publix grocery pharmacy, and I got my booster. It seems odd to have another slot filled out on my vaccine card from the CDC. I imagined that once the dose entered my deltoid, my immune system sprung into assault mode, like in the voice of Samuel L. Jackson, exclaiming, “Not this motherf*#!er again!,” and went in with guns blazing, ready to defeat the recognized intruder.
I slept OK overnight, but started to feel restless by early morning. Everything began to hurt. The kind of “I just got hit by a truck” hurt that makes it uncomfortable to find a position in which to sleep, but even though you are exhausted, sleep is elusive.
Tuesday morning, I had a fever, starting at 99.5, and creeping up to 101.5 during the day. I had multiple layers of polar fleece on. I had a headache, my arm hurt at the injection site, and I still felt like I was in an unfortunate altercation with a giant truck. Of course, I also ran 10 miles Monday morning, and that certainly didn’t help matters. I am grateful that I had the foresight to take the day off, because I can’t imagine treating patients while feeling like this.
My fever broke late Tuesday night, but the headache remained. I went to bed, hoping for the best Wednesday morning. I was fortunately canceled for work, because I woke up with the same relentless headache. I finally caved and took some ibuprofen. This merely took the edge off so I could actually do something productive. By Wednesday afternoon, I felt back to normal. I ran errands, cooked dinner, did several loads of laundry, and even put up our new Christmas tree.
Although the effects from my booster were rather unpleasant, it proves that I’ve had a strong immune response to this dose. Feeling terrible for a day or so truly beats having Covid, for sure. I wish everyone could really see what your hospital based healthcare providers have been dealing with over the past 18 months. I’ve had patients I’ve cared for succumb to this virus. I’ve had others who spent months in the hospital, fighting to get their lives back, working harder than they ever have to regain the strength to stand and walk, which is what I facilitate as an inpatient rehab physical therapist. You may think that it’s just doctors and nurses on the front lines in the ICU who have been dealing with this. But truthfully, every hospital based employee has been affected by the stress and grief of this pandemic, right down to your environmental services staff.
No one really knows yet how virulent this new strain of Covid will prove to be. But I’m glad I’ve done everything I can to help protect my body just in case this is the one that can skirt my armed immune system. I hope that if you’re not immunized by now, you are reconsidering. Those living in the Western world are lucky to have easy access to the vaccine. But my powers of persuasion are limited, I know. Your super strong, healthy immune system is invincible, until it’s not. Why not give your body a fighting chance?
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.