Quiet vs. Noisy Immune Systems

The CDC had been putting out alerts for weeks about the possible side effects of the second vaccination. “New data on the Moderna and Pfizer novel coronavirus shots show that most people experience mild reactions after being vaccinated, particularly after the second dose. These reactions commonly include pain at the injection site and fatigue, headache, myalgia, and chills.”

I didn’t need to read CDC alerts, just tune in to the family’s weekly Zoom gathering and listen to my siblings, nephew, and nieces. David, my eldest brother, who is eighty-three, had no side effects with either the first or second vaccination. Brother Nat and his wife suffered all of the above-cited reactions and more. Nephew Elliot took Benadryl prior to his shot and Tylenol after it. He had no adverse symptoms.

So, I began preparations for a lie-in on the day following my second Moderna vaccination. I had my shot, didn’t feel it, had no redness at the site, and patiently waited for the onslaught of reactions. When bedtime arrived, there were still no reactions—none. Morning dawned without reactions—none. 

A grey, dull, misty day greeted me. Because it was dreary and uninspiring outside, I decided to make use of my post-shot survival plans and stay in bed. I took a Tylenol to be proactive, charged my phone so that I could monitor the latest impeachment activity, cooked a lovely rib-eye steak with an apple and garlic chutney for lunch, and prepared to retire to my bedroom for the rest of the day. It was a good thing, too, since I developed a migraine headache—not the worst I’ve had, but bad enough to put me to sleep for several hours.

My niece, Michelle, who took her shot five minutes after me, suffered chills all night and is abed with a miserable headache. I text Michelle happy emojis to keep her spirits up, and I alerted all my nervous septuagenarian friends that serious, unpleasant reactions are not inevitable. I am not a DC superhero, just a human with a quiet immune system response and a firm believer that 24 hours of nasty is a small price to pay for avoiding intubation and possibly facing death.

The moral of this little blog: Get your vaccinations. If you can’t navigate the system, ask for help and be persistent. This is not a matter to be left to fate. Do not tempt her. Karma is a bitch and does not appreciate being in charge of your decisions. Say yes, and in the words of Yoda, “Do it!”

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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