On Getting the Second Covid Vaccine (Side Effects, Getting AstraZeneca, Long Term Impact)

Ah, the end of a series. And the beginning of long term immunity! Hopefully! (For anyone new, here is my post about getting offered the vaccine and having a small existential crisis over it, and here is my post about getting my first dose and the side effects.)

I had the second dose on Friday morning and it was all right, all things considered. I got a bit headachy and tired later in the day, but I didn’t just go to sleep like I did last time. My arm didn’t feel as heavy as before, either, which was nice. Now I’m feeling physically normal and mentally… more relaxed? I know I’m unusually lucky with the timing, but I do feel a bit more confident about socialising in groups now. I think I’d be very anxious about the lockdown easing if I hadn’t had at least one dose. Last week, pre-second dose, I hugged about five people. Five! And I sat indoors in a café! Twice! (Aside: how weird is it being indoors with people you’ve never seen before?) I was a bit nervous, but between the first vaccine and a negative Covid test, I felt prepared? And now I’m fully vaccinated I’m definitely happier to mingle.

Well, not happier. I didn’t like mingling before all this. But now I’m not worried that I’ll accidentally kill a vulnerable person if I breathe too closely to them.

So what have we learnt, reader? Other than reaffirming that I am constantly anxious about all things? Well, if you’re hesitant about getting the vaccine because you’re worried about side effects, I’d say take a deep breath and just do it. A couple of days of feeling shitty is nothing compared to a stint in intensive care, or long Covid. If you’re worried about blood clots due to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, then I hear you. I don’t think the risks of AZ were known when I had my first dose; I did panic when I saw the news. But I’m fine – I think I’d know if I had a blood clot? – and the risks really are low, especially when compared to the chances of dying from Covid. Plus, young people are getting a different vaccine now anyway.

If you’re bad with needles, I’d say tell the nurse you’re bad with needles. I’m fine with them as long as I look away and talk incessantly while they’re administering the thing. But it was genuinely more of a scratch than anything else. I’d say it’s less uncomfortable than having blood drawn, but your mileage may vary depending on how you feel about needles and your experience with blood tests and surgical stuff. I’ve had multiple hospital stays and my hands are covered in needle scars, so I’m probably more relaxed than most people.

filled-in vaccine card for Oxford AsteaZeneca vaccine

All in all, I’d say the whole experience has been all right. The two vaccine centres I visited were forensically organised (shout out to my mum, who used to work at one of them). The staff were lovely. I’ve been thinking back to side effects to past vaccines and feeling grateful that this jab was pretty much the same as previous ones: I felt rough for a few days, but that’s it. It’s more than worth the hassle for the peace of mind.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 that I qualified for an early vaccine; I was simultaneously so relieved and guilt ridden. When the blood clot thing happened, I wished I’d been in a group that didn’t qualify yet. I’m still not completely sure why I did qualify, but on balance I’m grateful. I was never particularly worried for myself in all this – well. I was worried, but not paralysed with fear twenty four seven. Just in those moments when I let myself think about it. I was worried twenty four seven for all the vulnerable people I could potentially infect. Knowing that I’m contributing to the nation’s general immunity is nice. I can’t remember how much the vaccine reduces your risk of spreading the disease, but knowing I’m potentially less infectious also gives me peace of mind. I’m still hand washing and mask wearing (although I will be honest with you that I am still finding it hard to keep track of what is and isn’t allowed. If hugs are still illegal, ignore everything I wrote earlier).

I’m off to bask in my vaccine status. By which I mean, do some work and, most likely, make a cup of tea. OH THE EXCITEMENT. If any of my posts have inspired you to look into getting vaccinated, or have helped you feel more informed or less anxious about the vaccine, let me know! I wrote the series to add to the voices encouraging vaccination. It’s infuriating that vaccine hesitant people can so easily become anti-vaccination when prayed upon by those with political goals and persuasive branding. It’s devastating that vaccine hesitancy can lead to deaths, not just with Covid but with things like measles. But a conversation about those things is for another day. I reckon we’ll come back to it time and time again, though.

Look after yourselves,

Francesca


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On Getting the Covid Vaccine (Side Effects & Fatigue)

Morning lovelies. Here is my part two to last week’s mild existential crisis over being offered the Covid jab.

I had the AstraZeneca vaccine on Thursday evening and the process was as smooth as a Hozier song. My ‘hub’ was a church hall with a one way system, a human being offering directions every 20 feet and a wait time of about five minutes. I’m pretty good with vaccinations and blood tests as long as I don’t look at the needle as it goes in (I learnt that the hard way with the cervical cancer vaccine circa 2008), but it still felt like an easy process? One moment I was chatting about hay fever with the nurse, the next she was telling me to take paracetamol if I felt flu-y and pointing to the exit. I’ve spent longer making a cup of tea.

I wasn’t sure what to expect symptoms-wise. I had the flu jab last year and immediately got a dead arm, then spent the next day brain foggy and napping. I’d never had the flu vaccine before but I have had rabies, Japanese encephalitis, Hep A and Hep B for travelling, and something similar happened with those. I think the rabies one knocked me for six, but one day of feeling shitty while my body builds antibodies against a brain disease seems fair. Anyway, the same thing’s happened with Covid: my arm went sore and dead straight away and I spent yesterday in a brain fog, snoozing at regular intervals. I made a cake to feel productive (turns out you’re meant to filter the coffee in coffee cake). This morning I’m still a bit tired and my arm is still sore, but I feel all right. Enough to have another stab at coffee cake with-filter, although I substituted virtually everything and broke the mixer. I promise that would have happened without the vaccine, I am either very successful in the kitchen or a full on celebrity Bake Off nightmare.

To be honest, I’ve been fatigued recently anyway (I fell asleep in an online lecture on Thursday afternoon. Nodded right off. Thank god it was an extra work situation and not a live MS Teams call for college). I’ve also been a bit hay fever-esque for a week or so too (thanks, global warming), and I am a strong proponent of the siesta anyway. So it’s hard to know what’s due to what; I seem to get fatigued and brain foggy with a tiny cold, or if I’ve had more than one day of eating junk food, or if the moon is in Capricorn.

(I do not know if the moon being in Capricorn is a thing.)

So yeah, we’re all good here. Thoroughly recommend the process if you’d prefer a day or two of minor inconvenience to a stint in intensive care or several months of long Covid! If you’re worried about needles, I know my brother has to lie down when he gets vaccinated, because needles make him pass out, so mention that to the staff and they’ll sort you out. If you’re worried about taking the place of someone ‘more vulnerable’ when you’re offered the jab, please try not to. Having had a week to think on it, I’m grateful I can do my part to keep everyone safe and get us out of this hellscape as soon as possible, and I feel a certain responsibility to talk about the process and promote the science as far as I understand it (this WHO page explains how vaccines work with nice graphics and easy language). Coincidentally I read an article about vaccine justification yesterday and anecdotally, people with historic respiratory issues like mine are being offered the vaccine now. The ethics of deciding who should go where on the list is still complex, and I’m not going to flounce around talking about being hashtag blessed when we collectively have so far to go before everyone is safe, but if you get offered this vaccine, please consider taking it.

photograph of Covid AstraZeneca vaccine card on top of package leaflet information
I don’t know if I needed to cover the batch number?!

I promise the next post will be about something more relaxed/less Covid-y. I’ve been working on a blog about my misadventures in zero waste dental products – I promise misadventures is the right word – and I might do some more Read, If You Like posts. I’ve been reading some absolute gems recently! Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see, or if you’d like more chat about vaccines or suchlike. Or maybe a deep dive into how I managed to ruin a cake mixer?

Look after yourselves!
Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like. If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers.