Moderna Times — Vaccine Day. We headed downtown for the first time…

Moderna Times — Vaccine Day

Jennifer Mason

Jennifer Mason

Jan 18·5 min read

I got my Covid-19 Vaccine! sticker

We headed downtown for the first time in months, giddy with excitement which dimmed as we sat in traffic until we finally got to the front. Two days later we felt like shit. But it was worth it, and I’m counting the days until we can do it again. I got my first Covid vaccine. This is what is was like.

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Getting the appointment wasn’t easy. Although we were both licensed health care providers in group 1A, nowhere had availability. My boyfriend and fellow acupuncturist, Ryan used the skills he developed finding tickets for sold out Phish concerts to scrounge up spots on their first afternoon open. We felt like we had won the lottery.

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As dates go, this was a cheap and exciting one — with reservations! After confirming our appointments and uploading the required app on our phones, we waited in a long line of unmoving traffic. It was easy enough but correcting the address that was decades out of date took an extra few seconds.

We got to the front of the line and were told to turn around because the system was down. The fluorescent vested guy directing traffic didn’t know anything else.

That evening we found out that there had been 6 allergic reactions, so they dumped the entire batch just in case it was more than coincidence. A quick search on the San Diego sub reddit showed that they were taking anyone with an appointment who had been turned away later that evening or at 7am the next day. It was too late for us to go back so we determined to be early birds to get the vaccinated worm.

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Day 1

The next morning we got up and drove downtown as soon as we woke up. This time we made it through the entrance gate like Disneyland Fast Pass holders. As health care providers ourselves, we doubly appreciated everyone in the exposed parking lot working for us and we were deliberate in turning off our engine and thanking them while waiting in our car.After looking through our Driver’s licenses, pocket professional licenses, and business cards they funneled us into lines and we parked with our windows rolled down. A purple-haired nurse wheeled a cart out and greeted us. We told her we were acupuncturists and yet, still nervous about needles — because a hypodermic needle’s tip is 40 times bigger than our slender little microneedles. Also, it’s different being the stabbee when you’re used to being the stabber.

Set boundaries and stick to them. I find that most people know they “should” incorporate more self-care, but their lives are moving so fast that it’s challenging to slow down. Carve out an hour of alone time to make two lists: things in your life that give you energy and are life-giving and things in your life that drain you. Figure out which draining activities you have control over and start making an action plan of how you will reduce time spent on these activities — set boundaries, say NO.

Ryan and I held hands and looked into each others eyes to distract each other the way you do with scared toddlers — -“Hey, look at me. Over here. Never mind her. Deep breath!” and it was done.

As a precaution, we had to wait 15 minutes for reactions and were told to honk the horn if necessary to get someone’s attention. It was mostly spent doing the very necessary social media posting of our stickers, and then we were done.

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What did we feel? Euphoria!

We’d talked about this for a long time and here it was. The first feelings of freedom. And a little arm soreness. But you’d expect that after getting a shot.

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We went home, and got busy with work stuff. I felt a little tired, but that didn’t seem surprising as we’d gotten up for the earliest appointments.

That evening, I had the neck ache that you get before you get a cold or flu. I felt chilly and tired. The jabbed arm was achey and the ache extended up into my neck. My back was sore and I kept trying to stretch it out even though I knew was going on. I made a lot of complaining noises before taking an epsom salt bath and used a heating pad as I got ready for bed.

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Day 2

That night and the next morning, the arm was sore, but so was my lower back and neck. I was TIRED in the morning and got up to get the kids ready for school but was not happy about it. It felt like I had the beginnings of the flu.

I was tempted to cancel my plans to walk around the lake for exercise, but I went anyhow and lowered my goal from 5 miles to 2. And then I came home and napped.

I finally remembered my acupuncture training and slapped on some Chinese pain plasters (similar to the brand Salon Pas) to help diffuse the vaccine and the soreness. I burned some Moxa — Chinese mugwort — and took another epsom salt bath. It helped but I was still tired and fell asleep at the ridiculously early hour of 8pm and slept hard.

Start with breakfast. Every morning, I start my day by fueling my body with nutrients it needs to stay healthy. (That’s called breakfast!) My favorites are an egg over easy on whole-grain toast with sliced tomato and Greek yogurt with berries. It helps me stay focused in the morning on getting my kids to school and start my workday off on the right foot.

Day 3

I rolled my eyes at Ryan’s suggestion of yoga but it helped a lot. It was after 20 minutes of downward dogging that I felt like my old self again. I even did a Zumba class mid morning and went for a sunset walk. Now I just have my normal 52-year-old creakiness, but my arms feel the same as each other.Vaccines are rolling out around the country and I hope this helps readers know what’s coming and how to prepare. Maybe schedule some nap time and an epsom salt bath for the day after the vaccine. Or make friends with an acupuncturist or find some plasters at your local Asian market? Whatever you choose, know that the soreness and the fatigue is normal and lasts 2–3 days.

Sunscreen can be a smokescreen. Sunscreen is unlikely to stop you from being sunburned, or to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. That’s because most people don’t apply it properly, and stay in the sun too long. The solution? Slather on sunscreen daily and reapply it often, especially if you’ve been in the water. How much? At least enough to fill a shot glass.

I hear the second dose has a stronger reaction, but I’m eager to get it. Counting the days! We’ve lasted a year of waiting for this chance for our lives to open up and I know so many people who have lost people in their lives to this disease. I feel a little thrill of optimism and enjoy thinking that we can start thinking about making plans for 2021.

Even though it’s been handy to have a guilt-free reason for getting out of any social obligation, I’m looking forward to seeing my patients again and not fearing people who refuse to socially distance. I can’t wait until we’re all (or mostly) vaccinated and we can meet in person and even hug again — if that’s your thing. Show me your sticker when you get yours! We can do this!

Start with breakfast. Every morning, I start my day by fueling my body with nutrients it needs to stay healthy. (That’s called breakfast!) My favorites are an egg over easy on whole-grain toast with sliced tomato and Greek yogurt with berries. It helps me stay focused in the morning on getting my kids to school and start my workday off on the right foot.