Vaccinated With Reservations

I was ambivalent about receiving the Covid vaccine.

On January 20th, while Joe Biden was sworn in as president, I received the Pfizer vaccine shot #1. Like many, I was on the fence. I didn’t believe the conspiracies about cancer cells or mind control chips in the vaccine. But I was unsure about the efficacy against new COVID strains. I didn’t like the idea of injecting an unknown substance into my body.

I was given an early vaccine opportunity because I teach art classes to senior citizens. The process took place at a Calabasas senior home. I learned that 20 percent of the facility’s employees refused the vaccine. This didn’t fill me with confidence. If the people administering the vaccines didn’t trust them, why should I?

The smartest people I knew advised me to get vaccinated. They viewed the negatives of the vaccine as much less risky than the negatives of contracting COVID. The alternative thinkers in my life took a different stance. They saw the public as guinea pigs in a mad science experiment gone amok.

While waiting in line for the shot, I was greeted by the facility’s activity director. He said he’d contracted COVID in early December and was still feeling the effects. He was 31, a long distance runner and in fantastic condition. Though not hospitalized, he spent two weeks unable to get out of bed. He shed 15 pounds, lost his taste and smell and has battled headaches for nearly two months. He only recently returned to work. He needed an inflatable mattress in his office for naps he took throughout the day.

Hearing his account changed my perspective. I realized how fortunate I was. Had I waited for my age group to be called, I probably wouldn’t be vaccinated until spring or summer.

The vaccination itself was uneventful. After a painless jab in the arm, I was given an “I Was Vaccinated” t-shirt and led to a rest area to be monitored for side effects. I experienced dizziness and pressure in the back of my head but nothing overwhelming. A woman near me began vomiting. Her blood pressure soared to 190 and she became dizzy and cold. A nurse said her reaction was common. It meant her immune system was responding. I sat with the woman for 45 minutes until her symptoms waned.

Driving home, I felt foggy-headed and tired and had a sharp pain in my right knee. I later checked the CDC website and read the vaccine could cause joint pain. I made myself a bowl of chicken soup and noticed an odd metallic taste in my mouth. (This lasted several days). The following day I was laid low by a brutal headache. By day three, I felt great and was able to resume my morning hike.

I was told the side effects for the second inoculation are more intense. The nurses advised us to clear our calendars for two days since we’ll probably be fatigued. They said to take a Tylenol an hour before arriving and to have plenty of chicken soup and coconut water in the refrigerator.

I’m looking forward to the 95 percent immunity the vaccine supposedly provides. My mom is sick and aging and I’ll be able to spend more time with her. Most of my friends and relatives are clamoring to be vaccinated. A few are still convinced the vaccine will cause long-term health problems. An old girlfriend sent me a tweet from Robert Kennedy, Jr. suggesting that Hank Aaron died from the vaccine.

There’s so much misinformation and confusion in the air. It feels like everyone is paranoid and suspicious. Now that I’ve had the first shot, I believe the vaccine is toxic to some extent, but it also feels like a risk worth taking.

Loren is a writer and woodcut artist based in Los Angeles. He teaches printmaking and creative writing to kids and adults.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store