The Second COVID Vaccine Wasn’t Easy But It Was Worth It

A quick month flew by before it was time to receive my second COVID vaccination. (Well, I guess as quick as a month can go while in isolation in your home newly pregnant, with a 3-year-old, and in the dead of winter.) I wasn’t sure how the second vaccination would make me feel as the news reports and personal anecdotes have been so varied.

Everyone’s immune system is individual and will react differently to making antibodies of the COVID-19 virus. Some people report feeling only a sore arm or tiredness. According to the CDC, side effects can vary on which vaccine is administered; however, 40-55% of people experienced mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, chills, aches, and fatigue.1

Which side effect group would I fall in after an easy first dose? Would I feel absolutely fine or have to deal with a day or two of uncomfortableness?

The first dose was no big deal

I detailed my experience receiving the first vaccine of the Moderna COVID vaccine in an earlier article. The entire experience was pretty easy—minus how incredibly difficult it was to schedule and keep an appointment. Similar to a flu shot, the vaccination itself caused a sore arm and some fatigue for the remainder of the day. Twenty-four hours later the sore arm and fatigue were gone and I felt completely back to normal.

Immediate response after dose 2

My second Moderna dose was given around 9:30 AM on Thursday morning. Surprisingly, I felt fine immediately after and throughout the day. No sore arm, no tiredness or fatigue, no headache, etc. There wasn’t any indication that I even had a vaccine that day and went about my business getting ready for a trip I was about to take.

Sneak attack of symptoms

Around 12 hours later at 9:30 PM at night, my joints began to throb and burn similar to how my flare-ups feel with rheumatoid arthritis. Slowly the pain in my joints radiated to my muscles and I felt chilly even though I had a sweatshirt and jacket on. After checking my temperature, it read 100.2 and I quickly took some Tylenol.

After feeling well throughout the day, the unfortunate part of this experience was that I was on a flight for a trip the very moment my side effects began. Thankfully, having CF and traveling has always helped me prepare for the worst, so I had a thermometer and Tylenol on hand mid-flight.

Summary of the next day

The chills, aches, and fever continued in total for 36 hours after they initially began the night of the vaccination day. They were uncomfortable enough that I had some trouble sleeping that first night. Into the next day, I continued to take Tylenol every 4 hours to treat my symptoms but I wasn’t sick enough that I stayed in bed.

Gradually into the evening and next morning, 24-36 hours after the onset, my fever reduced and I felt less flu-like and more like myself. In my opinion, the post-vaccination sickness was very similar to the build-up of a CF exacerbation, just no coughing - chills, fever, fatigue, aches, etc.

It wasn’t until 48 hours after the vaccination that I woke up feeling like my normal self and knew my immune system had done its job.

Well worth the sickness

Even if the second COVID vaccination came with a bout of sickness, I would 100% do it all over again. The sickness was so temporary and insignificant to what our world has experienced this past year that it was a minor trade-off. My health and ability to begin living in a more normal way are much more valuable to me. There’s light at the end of this crazy tunnel for my family and me, and we are so excited to be one step closer to safety and freedom!

Have you received your second dose of a COVID vaccine? How did you feel afterward?

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