Last week, I shared that California let me get vaccinated in the state. This was despite the fact that I’m a Nevada resident with a Nevada state ID. For the record, I have been in the state of California since December 2020, but I don’t have a permanent address here and this is not my home base.
When I received my Moderna shot on Saturday, I became the first person in my family to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It was not a symptom-free experience for me or the RV friend who came with me. My parents received their Pfizer vaccinations a few days later in Georgia and have also experienced symptoms.
Before I continue, I want to make it clear that sharing our experiences is not meant to alarm you or discourage you from taking the vaccine. I’m sharing so you know what to expect and so you can compare your own experiences if you have already been vaccinated.
The Appointment Processing
I received my vaccination in Riverside County and arrived about 20 minutes before my appointment. There was enough room for parking and there was extra free parking at a nearby lot. While in the line, workers approached me and asked me for my name, appointment time and ID. I was not asked to present any information that I had booked an appointment — not even the confirmation number.
The workers wrote my name and appointment time on a sticky note and stuck it to my ID. There was a line leading into the building, but it was moving at a steady pace. It was fast enough that I didn’t feel compelled to check the time, but I was probably in the line for about 10 minutes. People stayed six feet apart and wore their masks.
Once at the entrance to the building, I presented my ID with the sticky note to another worker. This person had a computer and looked up my appointment time. He asked me if I had proof that I lived in Riverside County because I was carrying a Nevada ID. I informed him that I was actually staying at an RV Park in another county but was sent there by the California vaccination website. I then offered to pull up my rent receipt email or retrieve a copy from the truck.
The guy shook his head in refusal. Instead, he asked me to recite my address. This was the same address used to book my appointment. He matched what I told him, read me the necessary disclaimers, advised me to get the vaccine in my non-dominant arm, and then told me to take a seat.
I had expected to sit for a while longer, but “take a seat” actually meant it was immediately time to be vaccinated. A nurse was already waiting. It was the most Jamaican vaccine I have ever gotten in America. By that, I mean, she talked very quickly to distract me and then stuck the needle in my arm. Before I could realize what was happening, she was done.
She put the strongest band-aid on that I have ever had in my life. That thing stayed put through daily showers until I finally found the nerve to tear it off on Friday — and it did not come willingly!
She then wrote a time on a sticker and gave it to me to stick it on my shirt. This time, when I was told to take a seat, it was among other vaccinated people who were being monitored. Workers come in and wiped down seats when people got up and all the seats were spaced six feet apart.
Once the time expired, which was about 15 minutes, we were allowed to leave. Another worker met us at the front door. He asked us if we were experiencing any symptoms. We told him no and he sent us on our way.
The Side Effects
The side effects experienced by myself, my RV friend and my parents did not seem to vary based on the vaccination we received. I’m mentioning this because I’ve heard a lot of people say they plan to get the Pfizer vaccine because it leads to milder or fewer symptoms. My parents, who received the Pfizer vaccine, experienced more severe symptoms than my RV friend and me. However, they are also older.
I felt fine when I left the center: so much so, that my RV friend and I decided to make a quick stop at Walmart. We needed to get new batteries for our RVs and wanted to see if a cheap battery we had found online was in stock. Around this time, I started to feel a little spaced out, but I assumed it was because I hadn’t eaten yet. When we completed the hour-drive home, I began to feel even more tired and spaced out. The injection site also started to throb and it became difficult to raise my arm higher than shoulder height.
This may sound frightening, but these were very mild symptoms. In fact, after arriving, we took the FJ and his Subaru offroading and flew my drone. So clearly, it felt more like an inconvenience than an impairment. By evening, the pain grew worse, but it wasn’t debilitating and only hurt when I moved my arm. It continued to hurt for about three more days and I battled with on-and-off drowsiness until around Thursday night.
I developed itchiness around the vaccination site about two days after the vaccine, but it wasn’t severe. It also disappeared by around Thursday night.
Kevin experienced no symptoms for the first day of receiving the vaccine. He lost his right arm years ago and only has his left. For some reason, the nurse decided to stick him in the remaining left arm, instead of the right shoulder. We’re not sure if this is relevant, but his vaccine was remarkably higher than mine.
The following morning, Kevin started to complain that he had now developed soreness in that arm. Like mine, it wasn’t debilitating: more a nuisance than any cause for serious concern. He also battled with drowsiness and started waking up at some ungodly hours of the afternoon. His sore arm lasted for about two or three days and his drowsiness lasted until around Thursday night.
The first of my parents to be vaccinated was my dad. He received his vaccine on Monday at a military base and described the experience as gruff with zero bedside manners. They stuck him in the arm, told him to sit for about 10 minutes, and then booted him out the door. He didn’t even get a band-aid for his boo-boo!
Sadly, Dad has also been having the most severe symptoms out of all of us. He is doing well enough, but he has been having fevers on and off. When I spoke to Mom last night, he was in bed riding out the fever. Aside from this, he has been fine.
Mom received her Pfizer vaccine at a pharmacy on Wednesday. She was very nervous, but got it done and has had much milder symptoms than Dad but more severe than Kevin and I. She has not had a fever, but she complains of severe drowsiness and a sore arm. She says the arm hurts badly enough that she cannot lift anything heavy.
Whereas I started working about two days after receiving my vaccine and only had to have two assignments adjusted because of my drowsiness, Mom says she doesn’t think she could have gone to work with those symptoms. She is back at work today, so I’ll check in with her to see if the drowsiness and painful arm has subsided.
All in all, the process was easy and worth it. I have no qualms about receiving my second vaccine, but I have taken the following workday off already. If I still have symptoms after that Monday, then I’ll just keep burning through my sick days. After all, I work for myself and can always negotiate with myself for more days off at a later date!
If you have specific questions regarding my symptoms, please do not hesitate to ask! I would also love to hear from others who have already received their first or second shots.