Remember a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic when we were all living in fear and the idea of a Covid vaccine was first dropped on us? Well I remember thinking that I would rather drink a cup of sick than have one. I didn’t even want to entertain the idea of having one for fear that I would grow three heads, let alone think about what the Covid vaccine feels like.
Fast forward to about a month ago- with the restrictions easing – and I was starting to actually feel FOMO for not having had one yet. It felt like everyone around me – even my partner – had scored a vaccine apart from me.
I stalked the NHS website and obsessively checked my texts in case I had somehow missed a notification that finally it would be my turn. I furtively questioned others about how they had somehow received their vaccination even though they were only in their mid-twenties with a history of being bumped on the head.
Our time to
shine be jabbed
And then finally the happy news arrived..it was the turn of the 40s and over! I whooped at the text I received as if I’d just won a year’s worth of Ocado vouchers. Ha! You know that life has become so micro when being invited for your Covid vaccine actually seems like an event to be commemorated.
Well, although we are certainly not first in the queue by any stretch of the imagination, I guess being in your 40s has some perks after all!
I calculated, at this rate I could have my second vaccine before the summer holidays hit and have a double stamped vaccine passport to travel the word with abandon, relive my festival glory days, and dance my way through a Fatboy Slim gig…except we all know that most of those are probably just a pipedream for now.
Granted I would have to mission from the leafy suburbs of Hampton all the way up to St Thomas’s hospital in London Waterloo to get my vaccine badge of honour (no other appointments locally for a month otherwise – like, seriously?) But it seemed a small price to pay to get this show on the road and start becoming part of the vaccine dream and race to freedom.
On your marks, get set, go!
As I prepared to leave to catch the train that morning, my daughter squeezed me like she was sending me off to war, and lovingly packed her favourite cuddly toy in my bag.
I tried to stop my mind from racing obsessively about what the Covid vaccine feels like, if I really would grow three heads (come on now people!), or more seriously, as someone who has a history of auto immune issues whether it would cause unrelenting chaos in my body thereafter.
With a strong sense of purpose, I bowled up to St Thomas’ Hospital vaccine Centre, feeling a beautiful sense of affinity with everyone who has also been called up for their duty. My comrades in arms. We’re doing it for our country – the red, white and the blue – and we were all going to be receiving the Astra Zeneca vaccine – blood clots or no blood clots.
N.B. The risk of a clot is roughly one in 100,000 for people in their 40s, but rises to one in 60,000 for people in their 30s. Two in a million people in their 40s died rising to four per million people in their 30s. Another perk of being in your 40s, albeit a rather morbid one.
Say hello to mama! THIS is what the Covid vaccine feels like
Speaking of arms, within minutes my one had been jabbed with dead Coronavirus cells and feeling all nice and achey like they promised it would. And no, the needle is NOT big – so don’t be getting any strange notions on me. Look, don’t look – just pick a strategy and go with it because my friend, it will be over before you can say Boris Johnson.
As I sit here and write this on the train back home, I’m feeling nauseous at the mere idea of feeling nauseous within hours. Is it my imagination or can I feel a weird twinging in my hip – then leg – as the vaccine begins to do its deed within every cell of my being?
However rough I expect to feel, at time of writing I feel an extreme sense of elation and relief that at least I can check the part one box of the vaccination “experience”. At least I can comfort myself with that when the nighttime shivers take hold…
A few hours later
So what does the Covid vaccine feel like a few hours later? By the afternoon I was experiencing a lingering sense of pukiness (like you’d done ten shots of tequila the night before), was feeling extremely slow and intellectually challenged, irrefutably tired and plagued by monstrous (but also quite comedy) belches. How rough did I feel on a scale of 1 – 10? In all honesty, I thought I would be up there on a 9 – but the reality was probably more a 5. I’d subjected myself to far worse during my debauched days of my 20s after all. I flopped with a book and Netflix for hours on end while others picked up the slack – now there’s a flip side!
By evening, the twinges were still lingering, and I went to bed early with paracetamol and slept in a bucket of sweat, waking only at 2am to take another round of paracetamol.
So what it as bad as I had feared?
Definitely not! My imagination had hyped up what the Covid vaccine feels like to be so much worse than it was. The next day I was a bit blurry and tired with a rather unbecoming grey tinge to my pallor, topped off with a mild headache. That said, by the afternoon I managed to stroll to the local park (albeit very slowly) and bake some cornbread. By early evening I was even raking the garden. Woah get me! It’s Monday now and all that remains is a feeling of grumpiness. But hey, that could just be a case of Monday-itis right?
How to not feel completely rough when you have the Covid vaccine
If you’re worried about feeling rough with the Covid vaccine then there are a few things I did which I found really helped which are:
- Book a weekend slot for your vaccine if you can and keep your diary clear. Your body and mind needs to rest so your immune system can do its thing.
- Keep well hydrated before and after your vaccines- it is extensively reported that dehydration can exacerbate any side effects that you may encounter so drink plenty of water, lemon juice, herbal teas and pass on the alcohol.
- Do some arm stretches when you get home. These will really help to losen up the receiving arm and lessen the pain and heaviness.
- Do some gentle and restorative yoga to help with circulation, comfort you and support your immune system and internal organs.
- Eat as healthily as possible. You may not feel like eating but you should try and eat nutritious food full of vitamins and nutrients to help with recovery – not just a dry piece of toast because you think you might wretch otherwise!
- Even if you are feeling ok at bedtime I would highly recommend taking paracetamol before bed (as nighttime is when the side effects really hit), and keep some handy by your bedside table in case you need to take some more in the middle of the night.
- For any twinges, aches and pains, a hot water bottle can provide impressive relief, especially at night time.
- Rest as much as you can! This is your green card to blob on the sofa and have a legitimate reason for it. And of course, you probably will be desperate to go to bed by 9pm but just in case not – an early night is essential!
What the Covid vaccine feels like: Astra Zeneca vs Pfizer
In my final words, I wanted to say that although I was feeling quite anxious about having the Astra Zeneca jab, I actually am very pleased that’s what I was offered retrospectively. My partner who had the Pfizer vaccine felt rougher for longer, and apparently, the side effects of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine tend to be milder with the second dose. For the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the side effects tend to be stronger with the second dose. And let’s not forget that it does feel good to have a homegrown British one it if you want to look at it from a making history point of view.
Whichever one you have you are likely to experience:
- Pain or discomfort in the arm where you had your injection
- Feeling tired
- Feeling feverish
Have you booked your Covid vaccination yet?
So if you’re in your 40s and haven’t booked your Covid vaccination yet I would say – grab the bull by the horns and do it! The sense of relief of getting it over and done with is immense, and there’s no time like the present as they say.
Book your Covid vaccine now
Are you worried about what the Covid vaccine feels like? Or have you already done your duty? Let us know in a comment below.
Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash