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Review: Getting the second shot of COVID-19 vaccine (Part 2)

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Three weeks ago on May 5, I received the first Pfizer shot for COVID-19 at my local QFC, which I shared my experience with here. My second shot was scheduled on May 26, three weeks after the first one, at the same place and time. The reason for the three-week interval is to allow the first dose to develop an immune system response, which takes some time before getting the second dose that helps strengthen the response. With my second shot, everything went by well and fast, the same as with the first shot. Here is my detailed review of the experience:

People lining up at QFC’s pharmacy
Gift Homsaen | The Seattle Collegian People lining up at QFC’s pharmacy
  • One day before the vaccination date, like in preparation for the first shot, I got an email reminder about the appointment from Kroger, who owns QFC. 
  • My boyfriend and I showed up to the vaccination site, the pharmacy section of the QFC, and went through the same processes at the check-in counter as last time: showing our vaccine record card of the first shot, verifying insurance information (this is optional since by federal mandate vaccines are free of cost), and picking which arm to be vaccinated. It’s not necessary to choose the same arm as the first time; it could be either left or right. 
  • An additional step we did this time was physically signing a paper vaccine consent form. This was confusing to me because we hadn’t done it last time. The form also includes vaccine screening questions, similar to the ones we answered on the online registration for the first dose. It looks something like this. The main reason we need to sign the consent form is to acknowledge that the vaccine has only been authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but not yet been approved or licensed by the FDA, to which we agreed. This 2-minute video can also help explain that.
  • Then we received the shot. The pharmacist who vaccinated us returned our vaccine record cards which now showed we got both of the doses. They suggested that we sit down to monitor our symptoms for 15 minutes again before taking off. 
  • Everything went fine after 15 minutes, so we left the pharmacy.

What were the side effects?

Before getting the second shot, I was nervous about potential side effects- how our immune system would respond to the vaccine. Other people have said they were hit hard with symptoms like flu, fever, intense fatigue, headache, etc. Some got knocked down and had to stay in bed for a day or two. My boyfriend notified his team at work that he might not be able to work for a couple of days if he experienced those side effects. 

In my case, I didn’t have any symptoms apart from a slight fatigue and sore arm. In fact, my arm was even less sore than after the first shot. My boyfriend experienced slightly different symptoms. Besides the sore arm and fatigue, he had a bit of pain on his left lower back, which he recovered from within two days. He ended up not needing to take days off of work. 

Does having no side effects mean the vaccine doesn’t work in your body?

After doing a bit more research about the relationship between side effects and vaccine efficacy, I found that based on immunologists and infectious disease experts, the two are unrelated. Our immune system can react differently towards the vaccine and yet its efficacy is still very high. 

I also found an informative article from the New York Times sharing questions people have and evidence-based answers regarding the second shot of COVID-19 vaccine, which can be a helpful read. A few of the questions include:

  • “Is it true that women are more likely to get worse side effects from the vaccine than men?”
  • “I took Tylenol before I had my Covid vaccine shots and had very little reaction to the shots. Did I make a big mistake?”
  • “Will the vaccines work against the new variants that have emerged around the world?”

It feels good to be fully vaccinated. However, both of us continue to wear a mask when going out to public places and practice social distancing like before because we have gotten used to doing it; it makes us feel safer, especially not knowing if everyone around us received their shots. And even though it’s still unclear when our society will fully reopen so we can physically socialize, play, and work together with complete comfort and safety, it’s safe to say that vaccination is the key to get us there. Some numbers already show the effect of getting vaccinated: 52% of the US population have received at least one dose, 42% received both doses and cases have dropped to early 2020 levels. At the same time, business, cities, and states are opening up more. 

Have you got your shots yet? How was your experience? Please share with us in the comment section below and tag us on Facebook or Instagram @seattlecollegian.  

Gift is a Programming AAS-T student and a Web Manager at the Seattle Collegian. She covers the column, Give me a break!, as she believes that everyone needs a break once in a while during this stressful time. She enjoys improving the Collegian website as much as writing, baking, making oat milk, and listening to podcasts.

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