Back in late April, I got my first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. It was AstraZeneca. I was relieved to have it — partly for the obvious reasons, but also because I had a pretty wicked 12-hour hangover that lasted the entire next day, and everything I read at the time said there, there, not to worry, unlike the others, with AZ, the first shot is the worst shot.
Then medical guidance evolved, and shipments of alternatives soared, and I found myself staring down Jab 2.0 with a different formulation. Specifically, the mRNA ones where it’s the second dose that knocks you flat. There were lots of anecdotal stories about side effects from mix-n-match vaccines — including from my kids’ dad, who had the same AZ + Moderna combo on the same time frame — but I couldn’t find any solid info on what to expect, so I decided to just log my own experience on an hourly basis.
Here’s what I’ve got so far …
11:42 AM (+0 hours): Hey, that *did* sting a little.
12:15 PM (+0.5 hours): This lineup at the Starbucks drive thru is … WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO OAT MILK, SORRY, OAT BEVERAGE.
1:30 PM (+ 2 hours): Nothing.
2:42 PM (+3 hours): It’s cold in here but that’s because the AC is cranked.
3:35 PM (+4 hours): Nada.
4:21 PM (+5 hours): Bandaid fell off.
5:15 PM (+6 hours): Tummy feels weird. Went away.
6:40 PM (+7 hours): I’m thirsty, but for food?
7:14 PM:(+8 hours): So the challenge is that I’m living in a complicated body that feels things constantly only now every random twinkle and twinge is met with an anticipatory WHY MUST YOU HURT ME, DOLLY PARTON refrain.
8:17 PM (+9 hours): Arm feels a tiiiiiiny bit warm.
9:02 PM (+10 hours): Shoulder’s a bit achy; neck too. What are the odds I can sleep this off?
10:12 PM (+11 hours): Sidebar: I’m trying this new productivity hokey-pokey where I hyperschedule my entire day. So I’m still up doing that, and knocking back some NeoCitran because it’s got acetaminophen (sore arm) and that sweet sweet D&C Yellow No. 10. I would say “goodnight,” here, but I also suffer from chronic insomnia, so more like, “see you soon!”
10: 40 PM (+11+ hours): AC is still cranked but it sure doesn’t feel like it. I should go downstairs and get the good thermometer (that suggests the existence of a bad thermometer; there is just the one). Meh.
1:30 AM (+14 hours): Can’t sleep. Feel okay, just bored. Could really go for some cheese.
2:41 AM (+15 hours): Still awake. More aware of my arm than usual.
4:25 AM (+17 hours): Rolled over and accidentally woke myself up, providing further evidence that I might be a dog?
6:30 AM (+19 hours): Some dipsh*t thought it would be a good idea to set an alarm for 6:30 AM. She can go f*ck herself.
7:27 AM: (+20 hours): I’M UP I’M UP I’M UP.
8:20 AM (+21 hours): Okay, if I was going to feel *terrible* I’d probably feel that by now, yeah? Mostly I just feel mildly achy. Not like “exercise” sore, more like, “helped a friend move” sore. Injection site still warm. Advil as prophylaxis.
10: 15 AM (+23 hours): Went for an hour-long walk this morning. I do that every morning. Same distance, but two minutes per km slower, according to my Apple Overlords.
11:30 AM: (+24 hours): On a lovely Zoom call. Honestly feeling better than I do most days, aside from the sore arm.
12:25 AM (+25 hours): Still feeling A-OK. If I had my choice, I’d spend the rest of the day sipping water and letting my arms hang at my sides, but that’s just what I like to do on Tuesdays.
CONCLUSION: Though this wasn’t everyone’s experience, my experience of AZ + Moderna (at 8 weeks, 3 days) was that it was a pretty painless combo. I felt wretched a day after the first dose of AZ (like, “rolling over on the couch = maximum exertion possible” wretched). No comparison to how great-adjacent I feel today. Oh! Last thing: based entirely on anecdotal evidence gleaned from Twitter and Facebook, women seem to fare better with this combo than men do. I’d still take pay equity and affordable childcare over milder second-dose symptoms, but you know, take it where you can get it.
FURTHER CONCLUSION: Welly well well. Turns out that, not unlike my experience of AZ, the first day (24 hours) is no big deal …. AND THEN YOU GET HIT BY A TRUCK. I mean, it’s a very slow-moving truck. Mostly just throws you off balance and makes you want to lie down on the sidewalk (or national TV) and take a nap. No fever, no chills, no real pain other than the sore arm … just a kind of bone-deep weariness that will have you — by which I mean me — go to bed at 5:00 PM and stay there. You — again, me — might forget to take out your contact lenses. Or maybe you’re just too tired to care. I think most of us are too tired to care about most things, these days. Kind of nice to have something to blame it on.