August 24, 2021
The following is a submitted blog from a Little Rock, AR mother who wanted to share her experience with the COVID-19 vaccine and the decision-making process that led her to get it.
Many assumptions have been made about me over the last several months; being vaccine-hesitant is not a popular stance. The reality is that none of the assumed reasons for my hesitancy were accurate. Like many of you who might feel the same way, it isn't necessarily any one thing.
I am a person with diagnosed anxiety - a chronic overthinker. I was scared, plain and simple. To be honest, that made me hesitate. I'm willing to bet it's the same for a lot of other people like me.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in science and know the importance of vaccinations. My kids stay up to date on their immunizations, and I got each shot suggested to me while pregnant. I even started some family drama by asking everyone to get the whooping cough shot before meeting my babies!
It was never about getting a vaccine; my hesitation came from the unknown.
Every medication I take and every vaccine I receive has been around for decades. This one was new, and it just made it different for me. Add in the social media posts when anyone had the slightest reaction, and I was a constant ball of anxiety. What if I have a bad reaction? I started going online less and hiding anyone who didn't just post memes or pictures of their food.
Over time, my fears began to subside, the vaccine had been available for a while, and I kept seeing more people get safely vaccinated. My fear of being on a ventilator in the ICU was starting to outweigh my fear of a new vaccine.
I was still hesitant, but I was ready to talk about it. Thanks to a no-pressure conversation I had with my doctor, I finally felt at peace. I told her everything, including my fears the vaccine was rushed. She listened openly with no judgment (maybe the only person so far to show me this courtesy), and she told me something I hadn't read or heard in any of my research - the vaccine is like the flu shot. Every year a new flu vaccine is created based on the strain they think will be prevalent, and I've never once called it "rushed."
I began to reevaluate everything.
I get the flu shot every year. I don't research it first; I'm not afraid; I just get it every year, because my doctors tell me it's safe and needed! It didn't take much more thinking to realize I put my trust in doctors for every other health-related thing, so why wouldn't I for this? They have my complete trust in every other aspect, so I knew it was time to trust them on this one, too.
Here’s a candid look into my vaccine experience.
First Pfizer Shot:
I didn't have any concerns about my first shot. No one I knew had gotten sick after it, so in my mind, it wasn't a big deal.
The injection wasn't any more painful than any shot I had gotten before, but my arm was pretty sore almost immediately. I was prepared for this and lifted and moved my arm as much as possible.
The soreness lasted about three days, and when all was said and done, the first round wasn’t bad.
Second Pfizer Shot:
Finally, it was time for my second dose! Once again, the injection itself was very easy. There didn't seem to be any immediate arm pain which I took as a good sign. I was in and out of the pharmacy in about 20 minutes with no issues. I walked back to my car with a lot more peace of mind than I had going in for it.
My friend told me if I was going to feel bad, it would likely happen about 12 hours later.
It was noon, so the countdown was on.
Hour 1: While driving back to work, my anxiety started to get the best of me. Was my throat tight because I was having a reaction, or did it feel tight because I was freaking myself out about having a reaction? Was that metal taste in my mouth from the vaccine or my Yeti mug full of Coke? My brain tortured me, but logically I knew if I were going to have a reaction, it would have happened while I was serving my 15-minute wait time at the pharmacy.
Hour 2: Every phantom issue dissipated, and I knew it was just my overactive brain all along.
Hour 9: My arm hurt more at this stage than it did with the first shot, and it seemed to radiate up the shoulder. My neck was a little sore, I had a headache and I was exhausted.
Hour 10: Headed to bed with a slight headache and feeling a bit “meh,” but I blamed it on the long workday.
Hour 13: Whoop, there it is. I woke up to the all too familiar body ache that can mean only one thing: fever. I tossed and turned for a while, trying to sleep it off by morning.
Hour 17: Dejectedly, I got out of bed, hoping coffee and a hot shower would cure me, but I knew I was lying to myself at this point. I took my temp - 100.4. Bummer.
The good news is my arm didn't hurt at all! I spent the next 12 hours feeling tired and yucky, but mostly fine if I had ibuprofen in my system. I went to bed not feeling great and was really hoping there wouldn't be another day of this.
The next day, however, was like magic. I woke up feeling the normal morning sluggishness I had come to expect at almost 40, and by the time I was sitting down to work, I was back to 100%!
In the end, there was a little bit of misery, but it was all worth it to protect myself and my family. I was scared of the "what if" far too long when the answer was right in front of me. I trust my doctors, and they all agree getting the vaccine will help protect my kids. They are too young to get vaccinated, and I am their only option for protection. I would do anything to lessen their chances of getting sick, and keeping them safe is my most important job.
If you've been on the fence, I hope my story has been helpful. I understand your hesitancy and fear; believe me, I was there! My concerns subsided when I stopped looking at what the internet had to say and started talking to my trusted medical providers.