I never thought I would be so happy to have a needle jabbed into my arm, but the Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things. Recently, I was lucky to be able to receive both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. After almost a year of worrying about getting sick, receiving the vaccine was a relief. Despite the transient side effects, my experience with receiving the vaccine was a positive one and I would encourage anybody to get vaccinated when eligible if they are comfortable with it.
Getting scheduled to receive the vaccine was only possible because my brother was in the right place at the right time. He had a dentist appointment and our dentist told him that a local hospital had a surplus of vaccine available and anybody could sign up to get a shot. He called me from the parking lot and walked me through the process of making an appointment. Ten minutes later I was ready to go.
My experience with the first shot was like any other shot I have ever gotten. The shot itself was almost painless. Taking the bandage off that night was the most painful part of the whole process. I had no arm soreness and no other reactions.
I received the second shot about two and half weeks later. Like the first one, the shot was barely noticeable, and I never had any arm soreness. I did, however, have a reaction to the second shot. About four hours after receiving the shot, I developed a fever of 100.4°. The fever was easily managed with ibuprofen over the course of the next 24 hours. The worst side effects I had were insomnia and some bad muscle spasms. The night after getting the second shot I barely slept and was exhausted the next day. I slept well the following night, but I could not sleep again the next night. I am not sure whether the insomnia on the third night was related to the vaccine, but it was unusual, nonetheless. The muscle spasms I had were intense. I had strong spasms in my trunk and in my legs almost every time I tried to move. I typically do not have problems with spasms, maybe one or two bad ones per day, so these were very noticeable. My best guess is that the spasms were my body’s way of reacting to achiness that I cannot feel. Fortunately, the spasms subsided after one day.
I felt very lucky to be able to get vaccinated so early. In Michigan, adults 18 to 65 with underlying medical conditions are slated to be part of the third wave of people to be vaccinated. My doctor estimated that I would probably have to wait until May or June to get vaccinated, so I was lucky to be able to get it in February. That being said, people with disabilities should be prioritized in scheduling for the vaccine. Not only do our medical issues present the increased likelihood for a poor outcome and complications from Covid, but many of us rely on others for help on a daily basis. Even if we trust our aides to be safe in their daily activities, it is still possible for them to become infected and spread it to us. Having an extra layer of protection from the vaccine would undoubtedly be a huge relief for many people with disabilities.
As with any vaccine, consult your doctor or other healthcare professional for advice about receiving it. My doctors strongly recommended getting the vaccine due to my increased risk for pulmonary complications from Covid. I was confident that the benefits from the vaccine outweighed the slight possibility for any complications. It has been a long year for everybody, and I hope that as vaccinations continue to roll out, we will be able to have some sense of normalcy before too long.
Written by Mike Franz
Mike is a C6 quad from Michigan who has been injured 16+ years.