Student Perspective: Getting Vaccinated

Source: Pan American Health Organization

By Teresa Zhang

April 29, 2021

Like many people, I had been eagerly awaiting the announcement of a coronavirus vaccine since March of last year. So when Governor DeWine announced that teens 16 and older would be eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine starting March 29, I was ecstatic; I couldn’t wait to receive my shot. 

Unfortunately, March 29th was also the first day of spring break, aka the first official day where I could sleep in and stay in bed until 11 a.m., so instead of waking up at dawn to reserve my spot, I made my appointment at 1 pm on the same day. Unfortunately, at that point all of the appointments within a twenty mile radius were already filled up, so I expanded my scope and finally found an appointment in Monroe. 

Tragedy struck again when I realized that that location only offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Luckily, I checked the websites again, and found that there was an appointment available at a CVS pharmacy in Milford at 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31. Booking the actual appointment took less than five minutes, but finding a location that had appointments available took nearly thirty minutes. 

I was underwhelmed when I arrived at CVS. The media had been speculating about the vaccine for the past four months, building up an image of uncertainty and frustration on both ends, so I was surprised when my vaccination did not result in me being trampled underfoot by overeager vaccine receivers after more than an hour of waiting. Instead, the entire process took less than twenty minutes. I arrived at the CVS an hour earlier than my appointment, but since it seemed like there was only one other person receiving their shot at the moment, the worker went ahead and gave me my first shot and told me to wait in the store for fifteen minutes in case of a negative reaction. 

The only side effect I experienced from the first dose was the soreness on the arm where I received my shot, which lasted for about a day or two afterwards. The soreness wasn’t too bad–it didn’t really affect the daily functionings of my life. To put it in perspective, it was like being persistently punched on the arm by a particularly strong eighteen month old. 

My second dose–which I received on the 21st of April– was a different story. At first it resembled my first shot: in, wam, bam, out, all within 25 minutes. The soreness, if it could even be called that, was milder than the first shot, and I thought that was the worst of it. I was oh so wrong. 

I felt normal at first when I woke up the next morning. It was in that thirty-minute period between when I woke up and when I physically left my beloved bed behind that I got that distinct feeling that something was wrong. My body felt more exhausted than usual–a deeper kind of exhaustion not borne of the wariness of the world around me, but rather from, it seemed, within my bones. I couldn’t physically move, and each time I tried, I immediately collapsed on the floor. Finally, on my fifth attempt, I gave up and went back to bed. You’d think after that I’d fall asleep and finally get the rest I desperately needed. You would be wrong. Because that’s when nausea and her friend formerly known as mild headache turned into raging migraine–which I had ignored in favor of lifting my body off the floor–intensified. 

I ended up spending almost the entire day immobilized on my bed, with only the dulcet sound of public radio hosts to keep me company–no food, no tv, not an ounce of productivity, only Terry Gross and heated mineral water. It may have been heaven, it might have been hell. The side effects mostly disappeared overnight, although the faint soreness from the shot did linger for another few days. 

Although my experience wasn’t wholly positive, I would still recommend students who qualify for the vaccine to get it; after all, the alternative of not receiving the vaccine–permanent side effects, risk of endangering loved ones, and even death–are much much worse than a few days of inconvenience and minor pain.