By Meredith Wolff
FRAMINGHAM – I am a nurse in Boston. I have seen this virus ravage entire families. I have seen patients arrive in the emergency department only to know they will not leave the hospital alive.
I also have asthma and am immunocompromised so I am terrified to catch COVID.
I have seen people my age and younger die from this. I have also seen people my age and younger be very ill for months and months. Who knows if/when they will get better.
I follow science. I believe in science. I trust science.
When news of the vaccine coming out “so fast” hit the news, I was hesitant to get it. Until I did my research.
Pfizer, Moderna and other companies have been researching mRNA vaccines for nearly a decade. So the technology is not new. They just needed to shift their focus.
Research into coronaviruses isn’t new either. There is an entire family of coronavirus – these typically cause the common cold. The virus that causes COVID is SARS-CoV-2. We have shortened it to COVID (it stands for Corona Virus and Disease 2019).
This vaccine has proven nearly 100% effective.
There are minimal side effects.
I have seen and heard many people fearful of allergic reactions. Anything has the potential for causing allergic reactions. Anything…from chicken to water to any medications – including vaccines.
People are also worried about it causing Bell’s Palsy. This is when one side of the face becomes weakened or paralyzed temporarily.
According to the National Institute of Health, the average incidence of Bell’s Palsy in the general population is 30 per 100,000.
According to the FDA, there were 4 incidents of Bell’s Palsy in the Pfizer’s vaccine group of 21,720 (which would translate to 20 out of 108,600).
In other words the people who got the vaccine were less likely to suffer from Bell’s Palsy than the general population.
This is NOT to say the vaccine prevented Bell’s Palsy – just that the vaccine did not increase any chances of Bell’s Palsy
All of this research under my belt, I happily signed up for a received my vaccine this past Thursday December 17 at 3:30 p.m.
The feeling in the room was that of excitement. People taking pictures of themselves getting vaccinated. A feeling of “we are all in this together; we are a part of history; we are taking our part in ending this wretched virus”. It felt uplifting. A feeling I have not felt since March.
I posted my vaccine experience on my Facebook page so my friends and family could hopefully feel less nervous themselves.
The shot itself hurt less than a flu shot. I had no immediate effects, though we did have to wait there for 15 minutes to assure our safety.
Later in the evening, my arm was a bit sore if one of my kids accidentally bumped it. The infectious disease MD at the hospital where I work told me that most reactions (flu like symptoms) were seen between 18-30 hours post vaccine.
That night I did not sleep well because my arm was very sore (in nurse speak it was probably a 3/10 on the pain scale – so not terrible but enough to wake me when I rolled onto it). I never took pain medication as it didn’t bother me that much.
My arm hurt more than it does after I get my flu shot but less than a tetanus shot.
All of my friends and colleagues who have received it have described it the exact same way.
By 29 hours post vaccine, my arm felt much better and by hour 31, I had absolutely no pain at all anymore. I slept very well that night.
Bloomberg reported that as of Saturday December 19, more than 1.1 million vaccines had been administered.
So many people at my hospital signed up that it crashed the website we were using!
At this rate, Dr. Fauci thinks we will reach herd immunity by September 2021.
So that was my experience.
I hope my experience can ease some of your worries.
Meredith Wolff is a nurse in Boston and a Framingham resident. She also is a volunteer with the Framingham Medical Reserve Corps.