Vaccine reactions vary, here’s how this student felt

Photo courtesy of Steven Cornfield, Unsplash

On March 10, I received my first dose of the COVID vaccine at the Valley Health Plaza located in Paramus, New Jersey. This location administered the Pfizer vaccine. I was a little nervous during my first visit, but excited to do my part and to feel a little bit safer during this pandemic. 

The CDC’s website has a page on the commonly asked questions on the vaccine. In it, they write, “COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19.” 

When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was how packed the parking lot was and the long line of people waiting to get their vaccines. While long lines are typically considered a downer, this was one I was happy to see. Luckily, the wait didn't take long, and before I knew it, I was making an appointment for my second dosage.

After making my appointment, I waited on yet another line for my shot. When it was my turn, I got the privilege of getting my vaccine in a private room. I was surprised, but also proud to see the nurse who gave me the vaccine was a fellow student here at Ramapo. She was so kind and friendly and made the process go by quickly and smoothly. 

On March 31, I received my second dosage. During my drive to Valley Health, I started to feel nervous since I've heard so many different reactions people have experienced. Such as fever symptoms, achiness, and even throwing up. After getting my shot and receiving an, “I’m a big SHOT” sticker and waiting the fifteen minutes after I went home and prepared for the worse.

Luckily, I didn’t have any of those symptoms. My arm was sore for a few days, making some tasks like driving or doing laundry a little challenging. The worst symptoms I experienced were feeling sluggish the next day and a loss of appetite. 

An essential piece of information also on the CDCs website everyone should know is:

"Although COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting sick, scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not have symptoms.” 

After being fully vaccinated for almost two weeks, I feel great. It feels like there is somewhat of a weight lifted off my chest. I, of course, still wear my mask whenever I leave the house, wash my hands any chance I get, keep hand sanitizer in my bag at all times and avoid large gatherings. While I am vaccinated, I understand that this does not mean I am free from carrying and spreading COVID-19. 

But being vaccinated gives me a sense of security and protection. I know it will still take time before everything will return to what could be considered a new normal. But getting the vaccine is the first step to lowering the spread of COVID-19 and ending this pandemic.