Round One with Pfizer-BioNTech; Did You Get Your Shot?

Here in Alberta we reached 69.4% of all Albertans over the age of 12 having their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination. What’s more amazing than that is in the whole of Albertan we have 4.4 million residents.

As most of you will already know there are a variety of different vaccines and combinations of vaccines that can be administered to willing recipients.

For the better part of nine-months I have been on the fence about receiving the vaccine because quite frankly, I’ve never taken the flu shot and I feel good about that. However as I mentioned in my previous blog post What’s Your Stance on COVID-19 Vaccinations? sometimes you have to think about the greater good of society. Well that and if I ever want to travel outside of Canada again.

That’s at least what I did.

Last month I bit the bullet and signed up for the vaccination.

Last week on Monday June 7th, I scheduled my first dose and I happily went to the Alberta Health Services vaccination building. Standing in the short line up at noon of other humans being processed for their shots I quivered seeing how close everyone stood nearly shoulder to shoulder in a room full of masked people.

Upon arrival, a volunteer squeezed two lumps of hand sanitizer into both palms and she watched you rub it all over your hands. She then asked you to remove your wonderfully decorated face mask and put on a doctor provided medical grade mask. This felt like the scariest thing I have done in a very long time. Changing my mask out for one that was being provided by a person I did not know, using tongs to remove it from a tub of other masks. How do I know these masks haven’t come in contact with this crazy virus! shouted my inner voice…

Not wanting to back down I did what I was told. Then wandered down the line until I was standing shoulder to shoulder with these other participants. All of us in this herd, providing our medical cards and IDs to prove we were the person who had signed up for the vaccination.

Next they funnelled us through another section of switchbacks until someone else guided each of us to a waiting area with a chair and three white walls.

Within two minutes a Registered Nurse (RN) pulls up next to you and begins rattling off all the conditions of you being a “willing participant” in receiving a COVID vaccination. She has you confirm your name and date of birth on the AHS form. After you confirm it, she informs about the numerous clinical items that make up the vaccination and goes over the side effects;

  • redness, swelling, or feeling sore where you had the needle
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • fever or chills
  • body aches or sore joints
  • feeling sick to your stomach (nausea), vomiting, or loose stool (diarrhea)
  • swollen lymph nodes

“Do you have any allergies?” asked the RN. “I do. I am allergic to bee and wasp stings,” I replied. She smiled then informed after I have this vaccine and any other vaccine that I as a person who might have an allergic reaction or go into anaphylaxis should wait at least 30-minutes after receiving a vaccination. To ensure that I do not have any reactions. And to ensure that I am as close to medical personnel as possible. And if I do have a reaction to be sure that I make as much noise as possible to alert nearby personnel so they can get an Emergency Medical Responder to stick me with an a shot of epinephrin then drive me to the hospital. Good times! I thought, I might be the lucky participant of a free ambulance ride today!

Then she asked if I was ready to receive the dose. I nodded my agreement then said, “yes.”

Looking away she rubbed my arm with an alcohol swab, shoved the needle in my arm and I didn’t even notice she had done the deed.

I looked back at her and said, “I must say, I really do appreciate what you are doing here today. It’s very admirable,” She smiled and replied, “I like putting needles in other peoples arms.” We both laughed. T

Okay, now go sit over there until 12:47pm. Do you have any further questions?” She said whilst she marked the top right corner of the page.

Nearly an hour later I was back home ready to get back to work when my entire body felt weak. Weaker than I had been after a 5 kilometre run in the dead of winter. This feeling of tiredness would last 18-hours.

The following morning I woke up with an excruciating headache and swollen lymph nodes. What in the heck is going on? rattled around in my thoughts. Seriously what did those side effects say on that sheet?

Standing in my home office I read back through the list of side effects.

  • If you have side effects that are the same as COVID-19 symptoms, you must stay home and away from others (isolate), even if you think the side effects are from the vaccine.

Damn it! This is precisely what is happening to me!

  • If your side effects start within 24 hours — which they did — and go away within 48 hours after the side effects start — which they did — then you do not have to keep isolating and you can go back to your normal activities. BUT if you have been told to isolate for other reasons, you must keep isolating. — Awesome its over with and I can go back to normality!

Except I being a proactive individual fired off an email to my work places’ COVID team to inform them how things were progressing since my first dose. The team examined the AHS information and informed under the circumstances I should work from home the rest of the week!

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