Eugene, OR

Here’s How It Felt When I Received My First COVID-19 Vaccine

Michelle Marie Warner

I got a shot, and I didn't die.

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Author selfie—waiting for 15 minutes observation at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, OR, May 7th, 2021Photo by author

I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Friday, May 7th, 2021, at 2:14 PM, and here I am. I didn’t die.

I drove up to Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. I met a series of wonderful attendants and the nurse giving the jab. They were all helpful, kind, and supportive.

I told my nurse I was nervous but trusted it was the right thing to do. I acknowledged my privilege to be able to get vaccinated. I told her to please share with others who are scared that we can do it. We can do hard things when we need to. And I felt like I needed to.

I had mild reactions to the vaccine. I felt anxious for about 20 minutes, which I believe was in my mind, due to overthinking. Then I developed a mild headache, some slight body aches, and a sore arm for a couple of days. The first night, I had wild, strange dreams. I slept well after that, for nearly 10 hours for two nights.

I used to be an active drug addict and alcoholic for over 15 years. I encourage any of you who are worried to consider a comparison like I made. Vaccine additives are nothing compared to what I used to put into my body. I’ve snorted methamphetamine and cocaine, drank too much wine too often, and smoked meth on a few occasions. Not that I’d recommend you do any of that, but I survived. What’s the worst that could happen?

If you regularly use an iPhone, eat occasional processed foods, or live in a busy urban area, you’ll ingest toxins at some point. And if you have a relatively healthy immune system, your body will resume homeostasis despite your exposure.

The job of a vaccine is to prepare your body to fight a virus or infection. Your white blood cells recognize a foreign invader and attack it. That’s why we feel sick sometimes. My soreness was minimal, but I appreciate my body reminding me of the magnificent work it was doing. I felt well within two days.

I got a vaccine, and now I probably won’t die from a sometimes fatal illness like COVID-19. I saw a recent photo of a sign from a hospital in India. They weren’t taking any patients because they’d run out of oxygen. They’re facing yet another health crisis with new surges of COVID-19 and lack the proper resources.

If you live in the US, do you realize how lucky you are? I’m not thrilled with policies and behavior here. I know we have a lot of work to do in many areas. But we are privileged to have an abundance of everything, including vaccines.

I used to be a non-vaxxer when I first became a parent in 2011. Notice I didn’t call myself “anti-vax.” Let me be clear. I’m not against vaccinations. They’ve saved many lives and helped eradicate diseases.

I support those who choose not to vaccinate for various reasons that are important for their health and well-being. Some of my friends’ kids have experienced vaccine injuries, and one of them is sure that her infant daughter died from a vaccine injury.

That person was my oldest child’s preschool teacher. I can’t fathom the grief and agony she feels. I respect and value her experience as valid and would never want to doubt her decision. Vaccinations aren’t right for her family.

I understand why some parents don’t continue to vax their children, even when they haven’t lost a child to them. They’re afraid of possible complications. I respect that, but I don’t have to stop vaccinating my kids because they did.

After reading the ingredients and hearing tragic stories, I was afraid of what might happen when I vaccinated my children. The additives are questionable and can be dangerous. They’re ages 5 and 9 and aren’t fully vaccinated, at least not yet. I plan to get them caught up this year, though.

I feel more comfortable trusting the science behind childhood immunizations now that they’re older. I’m more confident now that they don’t show signs of allergies or adverse reactions, and they’re not tiny babies anymore.

Still, I was nervous about getting the brand new emergency vaccine for COVID-19. We stay outside, wear masks in public places, and don’t mingle with large groups. My writing profession keeps me at home all the time. None of us are immunocompromised. We exclusively spend time with one family outside our home, and most adults around us are vaccinated. I don’t feel an urgent need to get vaccinated.

Although we’re in a low-risk category, I felt obligated. If I’m less likely to contract COVID-19, I’m less likely to spread it to anyone who might be at a higher risk. I did it for our community.

Leading up to my appointment for the Pfizer vaccine, I felt nervous. I wondered what it would do to me. Was I risking death by trying to stay safe and healthy? It was a strange feeling. My mom is a nurse practitioner and would encourage me to get vaccinated if I asked what she thought.

She was alarmed a few years ago when I revealed my youngest wasn’t vaccinated. At the time, I was confident in choosing not to vaccinate my daughter. I know she was afraid of her getting a deadly disease. I was more afraid of the shots than the diseases. Now I trust that vaccinating is the best choice.

I watch and read quietly now, as some of my friends are equally alarmed by the COVID-19 vaccine. Some of them believe getting the vaccine is an extreme risk. Many believe it’s unhealthy for children to wear masks all day. A rare few believe that COVID is a conspiracy. They spread outrageous claims about extreme reactions, connections to 5G, and implanting microchips inside of us with the vaccine.

Although some of this rhetoric concerns me because of the misinformation and fear-mongering, what made me most upset was its effect on my decision to get vaccinated against COVID. I didn’t want to share on social media that I got it. I have vaccinated friends who show off their bandaged arms, and their peers applaud them. And many of my friends will do the same.

But those who don’t trust the COVID vaccine have become fiercely judgmental lately, and it’s caused me to retreat for fear of backlash and ominous warnings headed my way. That’s why I don’t share my feelings on COVID or post my recent “vaxxed” selfie.

Choosing to get vaccinated was the best choice for me. I educated myself on the risks and benefits and decided the latter outweighed the former. I urge you to make an educated choice when it comes to getting a COVID vaccine.

Here in Lane County, we have ample opportunity to get vaccinated if that’s what you decide. It’s ok if you choose not to. I won’t judge you. And because I did get vaxxed, I hope that those of you choosing not to won’t judge me.

We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. I used to have the privilege of not get vaccinated. Now I have the privilege to get vaccinated. Remember, nothing is static. Circumstances always change. And with any luck, we won’t die before they do.

Please visit lanecounty.org for more vaccine information in Lane County.

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Grateful single mama with a plethora of passions. Keen observer with an eye for editing. I write about relationships, parenting, mental health, addiction and recovery, creativity/productivity, gratitude, mindfulness, and personal growth. She/her. Let’s connect.

Eugene, OR
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