Tag Archives: vaccinations

Double-Shot

We’ve both received the second dose of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine! Same location and keep-you-moving procedure as the first dose, in and out within a half hour.

Scan from the manga Cells at Work showing a man in a White Blood Cell cap shouting "Antigen sighted!" and violently slashing something with a knife.Like many people seem to, we got stronger side effects after the second dose than the first. She got fatigue and a fever, I also got loopiness, chills, and a headache. I imagined my immune system looking at the new batch of spike proteins, saying, “What, this again? That’s it, let’s bring out the big guns and make sure it Never. Comes. Back.”

Oh, and my brain decided to launch into a migraine aura around the time the chills hit, but I don’t think that was related. 🤷

But both of us were mostly recovered within 24 hours and back to normal within 48. (Well, my arm’s still sore, but I don’t really count that.) And a day or two of mild “illness” that you can schedule and you know won’t kill you is a heck of a lot better than a surprise attack by the actual coronavirus making you spend weeks in bed with the option of a hospital stay, chronic illness, or dying gasping for breath, watching your loved ones say goodbye to you over video chat because they can’t visit you in person safely.

And passing it along to someone else before you even know you’ve been infected, so they have to go through it all too.

The cost/benefit analysis is pretty clear.

Still a couple of weeks to go for our systems to completely lock in on it, but we should be able to relax a bit around the end of the month.

That would certainly be nice!

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

We have both gotten the first dose of the Moderna vaccine against Covid!

*whew!*

The kid can’t get vaccinated until the <16 safety and efficacy data comes back, but he’s still young enough that he’s at a lot less risk to begin with, and having all the adults around him vaccinated will let us all get a lot closer to “normal” life outside the home soon. (Whatever “normal” is these days.)

Smooth Scheduling (No, Really!)

After hearing horror stories from people in earlier tiers and different states, I was really expecting to have trouble setting up appointments. I figured it was going to be like trying to get tickets for Comic-Con. Or worse: like trying to get a hotel room for Comic-Con. Broken websites, or only finding appointments three weeks out, or only finding appointments on the other side of the county, or starting to schedule an appointment and having it disappear in the middle of registering. I bookmarked all the pharmacy Covid-19 pages ahead of time just in case the state or county websites crashed and burned.

Fortunately we were both in UCLA Health’s system, because they’re running a well-oiled machine.

The day before general eligibility opened up, just as I was starting to freak out about how long it would take to get appointments, UCLA Health sent out an email to their patients saying to just schedule an appointment through MyChart. We picked the nearest location (about half an hour away), she got an appointment for the first day, and I got one for a few days later.

We could have scheduled for the same time, but we wanted to stagger our shots just in case we both got knocked out by side effects. Gotta have at least one functional adult around!

Getting (the) Shot

The location we both went to is a regular medical office, not a megasite. They don’t have outdoor lines or giant waiting areas, and they don’t have separate entrances and exits, and the hallways are kind of squirrely. But they minimize bottlenecks and keep you moving quickly so you aren’t sharing airspace with anyone for longer than a couple of minutes.

  1. They screen everyone on the way in with the usual symptom questions and a temperature check.
  2. When someone’s ready at the front office, they send you in to check your ID, confirm whether you’re there for the first or second dose, hand you the information sheets and send you down the hallway.
  3. At each intersection, they have someone to direct you through the maze until you reach an exam room.
  4. One person is waiting for you in the exam room. They double check your name and which dose you’re there for, then give you the shot and the CDC-issued paper card indicating which vaccine you received and when it was.
  5. Then they send you down another hall where someone directs you to one of the chairs scattered throughout the halls to wait out the 15 minutes.
  6. Rather than try to keep track of everyone, they just ask you to set a 15-minute timer on your phone and you can leave if you’re still feeling OK at the end.
  7. They also ask if you have the MyChart app on your phone. If you do, you can sign in and there’s already a button to schedule your follow-up for the second dose. If not, or if you run into problems with the app, they’ll schedule it for you.

The whole process is fast. Each of us was in and out within half an hour. Including parking the car.

Side Effects

The shot itself was relatively painless, but we both developed sore arms after a couple of hours. More than a flu shot, less than a tetanus shot. Mine cleared up after two days, while Katie’s lasted a little longer. We also both experienced fatigue starting around the same time as the soreness. Hers was milder — she described it as more just wanting to be left alone than actually being tired — but I was wiped out for the evening and most of the next day.

A bit unpleasant, sure, but nowhere near as bad (or as long) as actually getting Covid-19!

With any luck the second dose will go as smoothly. Update: The process was smooth, but the side effects were stronger.

First Line, Last Line, Whatever

There’s something wrong with this advertisement for flu vaccination services:

Flyer advertising flu vaccine: Your First Line of Defense Against the Flu

The slogan just bugs me, because they got the metaphor wrong.

Think about it: Vaccines work by training your body’s immune system to recognize a particular type of germ ahead of time, so that if you get exposed to the real thing later on, you can fight it off before it actually manages to make you sick. In terms of a warfare metaphor, it’s about training the troops who guard the home front so that if the enemy successfully invades past your borders, you can fight them off before they become entrenched.

The first line of defense would be something that stops them from invading in the first place. A well-defended border, in terms of ground troops. The Coast Guard in terms of sea. Radar and anti-aircraft missiles to identity and shoot down incoming enemy aircraft.

Your first line of defense against the flu? That would be your skin.

So wash your hands!

</pedantic>

Taking Aim at Whooping Cough

I got the pertussis vaccine this morning. California is experiencing an epidemic of pertussis, its worst in 55 years, with 4,223 cases as of September 21….and 9 deaths, all infants too young to be vaccinated. The state Department of Public Health is recommending that anyone who expects to spend time around infants get a booster shot. If you can’t get pertussis yourself, then you can’t pass it on to your children (or the kids you’re babysitting, etc.).

Flu Away

I finally got my H1N1 flu shot today. My allergist called me this morning to say that they’d gotten five — yes, just 5 — doses of the vaccine, and wanted to know if I wanted one.

The CDC has been recommending for months that anyone with chronic respiratory conditions (*cough* asthma *cough*) get both the swine flu and seasonal flu vaccines, so I asked about it the last time I was in for a check-up. The office was expecting it sometime in October. That stretched out to late October, then November, then they began to wonder if they were going to get it at all.

Distribution on this thing has been just abysmal. I mean, I got the seasonal flu shot in September. And there have been other areas of the country that got so many doses they started offering them to the general public more than a month ago, because they didn’t have enough people in high-risk groups who wanted it.

Meanwhile, H1N1 proceeded to establish itself as the main flu of the season. I wasn’t terribly enthused about the possibility of being completely wiped out for several days and quarantining myself for another week afterward…

I did research other sources, though perhaps not as thoroughly as I could have. I checked in a couple of times at my regular doctor’s office, but they were in the same boat. I checked Google Flu Shot [Edit: This was a service that let you search Google Maps for flu shot providers that had the vaccine in stock, and is no longer available.] at least once a week after it launched, though it was always either empty or full of locations marked “Temporarily out of stock.”

Actually, I’d pretty much written it off at this point, figuring the vaccine would be available sometime in, I don’t know, February or March, by which time I’d either have gotten the flu or wouldn’t be getting it this year anyway. When my phone rang I figured it had something to do with an appointment I’d rescheduled.

For the record: no noticeable side effects (so far), and hardly any pain. My shoulder hurts less than it did after the seasonal flu shot I got a few months ago, and even that didn’t hurt much (and only after a few hours). Also, there was a patient survey and information sheet that went along with it instead of the standard “I solemnly swear that I am not allergic to eggs” (they grow the vaccine in eggs) waiver.