The first time I had COVID-19, I didn’t know what was happening. It was early March 2020, and I remember thinking that my mononucleosis from years earlier had returned. I remember laying in bed with my wife, feeling too sick and delirious to move, and joking, “What if this is some weird new virus?”
It turned out to be, indeed, some “weird new virus.”
It was extremely terrifying for me, as an immunocompromised person, to learn that I had a novel virus that people were dying left and right from. My lymph nodes don’t work properly and my body has difficulty producing adequate white blood cells, leaving me with very frequent secondary infections and getting nearly every illness that comes my way.
The first week was a blur of the worst chest pain next to pneumonia, atrociously high fevers, weird dreams, and even hallucinating that there were people standing over me. It continued to get worse until my fever broke, and I was stuck with a lingering ugly cough for two months. Nothing really helped me feel better; the CDC advised people at the time to not take ibuprofen, and Tylenol did very little to alleviate my chest pain.
When it was finally over, I was very careful about where I went. I didn’t see my friends. I barely left the house. I washed my hands constantly. I wore a mask. I did everything I was supposed to do.
I moved from my house share last year and now live in an indoor apartment complex that had an outbreak. I was one of the poor souls who happened to be doing laundry around unmasked infected people, and I got it days later.
It wasn’t as bad the second time, but it had other effects I didn’t have previously. I was prepared for the coughing (which didn’t happen as long as I laid perfectly still), the migraines, the strange dreams and the fever, but I had not previously had the abdominal pain. I spent an entire night laying on the bathroom floor, crying, in excruciating pain and unable to finish any of my homework.
Eventually it faded, and I’m left with, once again, its strange lingering effects. I am supremely lucky that nothing happened to me due to my immune problems, but I am not willing to keep testing chances and want to be vaccinated as soon as my last symptoms fade. I have always been a massive supporter of getting COVID vaccines, and I, unfortunately, hadn’t been able to get one until it was too late.
Though the COVID vaccines may seem daunting due to potential pain, side effects, and how COVID vaccines were uncharted territory, I interviewed a few people to see how they truly were. Everyone interviewed agreed that the COVID vaccine was well worth it. The procedure was quick, no-one experienced intense pain or severe side effects, and it was all worth it for the potential immunity.
Allie Giddings, who was vaccinated at the Amazon SuperVax, described her vaccination. “I arrive at the site, I park, and there’s someone at the elevator who tells me which way to go … I walk up the stairs, they scanned my QR code with an iPad, I got a wristband, and then I get in line and then they point me to someone to give me the vaccine. She verifies my name, my birthday, and which arm I’d like the vaccine. I get the vaccine, go sit in the waiting area for 15 minutes, and then I can leave. From my car to getting the vaccine, it took less than 10 minutes.”
Paul Rutherford had a similar experience. “I went to the one on Microsoft campus, and so I just … come in through the front gate … they make you promise that you haven’t had COVID symptoms recently, haven’t been vaccinated recently. You walk on through to the initial desk where they check you in and establish that you are indeed here to have an appointment and make sure you know which shot you’re getting. Then you actually go over to someone with a vaccine, who basically then just sticks it in your arm, then you go to the waiting area, hang out for 15 minutes, and then you’re basically sent free. From walking in to walking out, it took about 20-25 minutes.”
Everyone else interviewed agreed that, regardless of location, it was a very fast procedure with the same 15-minute wait period after being vaccinated. No one reported pain at the injection site, either.
“The vaccine procedure wasn’t too bad,” said Eva Williams. “The injection itself wasn’t slow. About as fast as a flu shot, I’d say.”
“Nothing worse than a normal vaccine,” agreed Bellevue College student Katarina Stout, who was vaccinated at a local Kaiser location.
Everyone interviewed reported very minimal side effects — just some general discomfort, feverishness and fatigue.
Rutherford had the worst side effects of anyone interviewed. “Arm ached a bit that day, and I felt a little feverish and tired the next day, other than that, nothing.”
Giddings, too, felt the fatigue. “I was a bit tired on the day of and the following day, and I had a sore arm.”
Stout said, “My arm was a bit sore a few days after each dose … I didn’t have any side effects. My injection site was a bit itchy and sore. But nothing aside from that.”
But even with feeling slightly ill or uncomfortable afterward, everyone vehemently agreed that everyone should get vaccinated.
Giddings suggested to anyone opposed to or wary of the vaccine, “Talk to people [you] know who have had the vaccine so they can have trust from people they do trust.”
“It’s definitely worth it!” exclaimed Stout. “I feel so much more comfortable doing things now … I would tell those opposed to the vaccine to please … get it so people can stop dying and we can go back to any level of normalcy!”