My J&J Vaccine Experience, A Wild Ride Indeed

The first question was; Do I really want to be part of an experiment and take a new vaccine? What could happen in the long term? What could happen in the short term? Is it even going to work? What would happen to me if I contracted Covid? Is the risk worth the reward? The answers came eventually.

First off, it’s not really a “vaccine” in the traditional sense of the word. Vaccines prevent you from contracting a disease. Example: You get vaccinated for Measles, and you won’t contract Measles. The Covid vaccine doesn’t actually prevent you from getting Covid Disease. It just keeps it mild enough (we hope) to keep you out of the hospital and out of the morgue. It’s a set of blueprints that make your body produce copies of the spike protein found on the coronavirus itself. The spike protein copies then cause your immune system to kick in and attack them. The premise is that , if/when your immune system encounters the actual virus, it will recognize it and know how to keep it in check.

Since I have an issue that would most likely land me in a hospital bed if I got infected with this plague, it would probably be a good idea. My doctor very much agreed. As far as the experimental nature, the vaccines need to be tested on actual people. We need an end to the misery that started last year, and that just isn’t going to happen without people getting vaccinated. So, I figure it’s one of my civic duties to participate.

My doctor dropped a letter in the mail about my medical issue for me to give to the people at the vaccination site. By some weird luck, I got an appointment for the Johnson & Johnson shot within 72 hours. My letter didn’t arrive in time because of the nationwide issues with the USPS right now. It was a weekend, so no getting hold of doctor and picking it up either. My appointment was on a Sunday. I went to my appointment sans doctors note anyway, and just hoped they would give me my jab.

The line wasn’t that long and they were very efficient in keeping the line moving quickly. I got signed in and waited nervously for them to call me over. Once a spot opened up, I went all ready to explain the whole “I didn’t get my letter in time” story, but they just asked for my ID, and which arm I wanted it in. They really just couldn’t care less if I had a doctor note or not. They jabbed me (no pain at all), gave me my Vax card, some paper to sign up with the CDC to report any side effects, and a post-it telling me what time I was allowed to leave. You are required to stay for 15 minutes (30 minutes is you are allergic to stuff) just in case of a reaction.

One of my friends who had Covid last April “Imagine feeling like that for SIX WEEKS”

After that, came home and went on with my day. Made dinner, and then it was evening Netflix time. I drank a big glass of water after dinner to keep hydration up. Apparently, that’s a thing. About 30 minutes after drinking my water, I felt a chill. Not a big chill, just enough to want a dog on my lap to help warm up. Maybe 10-20 minutes after that, I was COLD. Curl up in a little ball with a blanket, cold. Another 10 minutes, and I was shivering cold. Suddenly, I had to go to bed. By the time I got upstairs to my bed, I was shaking. Actually shaking. Shaking so bad that I got my mouth guard because I was afraid a tooth might break! 2 down comforters later, I was freezing. Down to my bones freezing. It felt like my skeleton had been carved out of the permafrost in the Arctic. While that was going on, suddenly every part of my body that has either been injured in the past or had any arthritis at all flared up BIG TIME. The pain ended up spreading throughout my whole body (which was still freezing BTW), and it HURT! Turning over in bed hurt, breathing hurt, just laying there hurt. I think my eyelashes hurt, if that is even possible. Shortly after that, the nausea kicked in, and there went dinner. The good news is that the chills got more tolerable after that. The bad news is, that’s when the sweating started. Could not cool down at all. I’m pretty sure there was a fever involved at this point but wasn’t about to deal with taking my temp. My head was just pounding, very migraine-ish. Forget getting any sleep at all, as this was just so uncomfortable. Tossed and turned all night. Hot/cold/hot/cold/sweating/freezing, and don’t forget the pounding headache. One of my friends who had Covid last April said “Imagine feeling like that for SIX WEEKS” I shudder at the thought.

Finally, about 12 hours post shot, I got some Tylenol in me, and that helped a LOT! Calmed my body aches and headaches down, the fever and most of the chills were gone at that point. Just incredibly tired. So SO tired. Day 2 was sleep and Tylenol every 4 hours. Almost exactly 48 hours after the shot I felt MUCH better. No where near 100% better, but at least functional. For the next 5 days or so, I was just tired enough to want to go to bed by 6PM, By one week out, I felt perfectly fine, and have felt fine since then.

Everyone has different reactions. Us GenXers, people in our 40’s and 50’s, are having a harder time with the side effects. Also, from what I am hearing, the side effects happen after the second shot with Moderna and Pfizer.

If I could have done it differently:

  1. Have pre made food/soup, something ready that you just have to nuke in case you are feeling too poorly to cook something.
  2. If your whole family is getting it, stagger your appointments so everyone isn’t feeling horrible at the same time.
  3. If you start hurting and getting chills Tylenol is like magic, make sure you have some on hand.
  4. Plan on either taking a few days off work or do it right before days off, just in case.

You may not get any side effects at all. Older people seem to be doing better in that respect, but better to be prepared. I am happy to be one and done and on the road to some sort of normalcy. I am hopeful that this will work against this terrible plague that has affected us all and we can get back to traveling, concerts, wining & dining, theater, and hugging our parents.

I am now waiting on my Mom to get her second jab next week. Then the countdown starts for when I can go to her house, drink champagne and eat lots of things that are really really bad for me. Because that’s what we do 🙂

Please feel free to send me your experience for publication. Sharing information will be helpful for everyone. Especially looking for input from people who got Moderna or Pfizer.


2 replies »

  1. I had my second Pfizer shot yesterday; zero side effects beyond a slight injection shot tenderness that really isn’t bothering me. I’m 56 with a medical issue that allowed me to qualify for the shot. Ditto for my husband, who has no other reaction to shot 1 or 2.

  2. Pfizer – very sore arm after 1st and some fatigue. Hydrated big time day before 2nd and day of. Got that 2nd shot early in the day and keep moving arm all day. Tylenol starting an hour after shot, no anti inflammatory meds. Barely any soreness day 2. Still some fatigue but that is all