As promised, I got my second COVID-19 vaccine dose last Friday. And as promised, I’m returning here today to tell you all about it.
Who’s ready for Round Two of my COVID-19 vaccine experience? (And really, am I ready for what’s next in my life?)
On April 9, I anxiously awaited “getting the jab” and experiencing for myself the initial COVID-19 vaccine experience. On April 30, I eagerly awaited the next step towards unlocking a whole new chapter of my life.
As I prepared to leave my home for the vaccination clinic, I thought of everything I’ve avoided for nearly 14 months. I haven’t seen my father in-person in the last 14 months. I haven’t been on an airplane in the last 14 months. I haven’t felt the ocean, gone in a skyscraper, dined inside a restaurant, or shopped inside a physical store in the last 14 months.
What will life feel like after my second vaccine dose fully kicks in? What will I do? Where will I go? How will I adapt to this new reality after having to adapt to my current reality of extensive solitude?
“We feel that those who are fully vaccinated no longer require masks outdoors.”
– CDC Dr. Rochelle Walensky, at a White House COVID-19 Briefing on April 27
Just three days prior to my appointment, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled new guidelines for Americans who have been fully vaccinated. When she announced the new guidelines at the White House’s COVID-19 Briefing last Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky declared, “Today is another day we can take another step towards the normalcy we’ve missed. For months, we’ve told you everything that you can’t do. Today, we’re telling you what you can do once you’re fully vaccinated.”
So what exactly can we do? Let’s just say the CDC’s new guidance is pretty complicated. However, there are a few key takeaways: “The science shows that outdoor activities like small gatherings and dining outside are safe while unmasked. If you are vaccinated, you can do so unmasked. […] We feel that those who are fully vaccinated no longer require masks outdoors.”
If you’re still trying to interpret everything Dr. Walensky said last Tuesday, I’ll try my best to break it down here. If you’re fully vaccinated, the CDC is so confident of your low risk of spreading SARS-CoV-2 and your even lower risk of suffering a life-threatening bout of COVID-19 that the CDC now approves of outdoor mask-free activities among small groups. Simply put, there’s more space for social distancing and less danger of SARS-CoV-2 infected droplets and aerosols reaching any unvaccinated people in the area.
However because over 67% of Americans are not yet fully vaccinated (as of May 2), because post-disease “natural immunity” is not as reliable as vaccine-induced immunity, and because the risk of people dying of COVID-19 or surviving with “Long COVID” debilitations is far greater than the risk of any vaccine-induced illness or injury, the CDC continues to recommend universal masks in indoor businesses and indoor public spaces. When more people are cluttered in an enclosed space, there’s far greater risk of someone who’s infected with COVID-19 spreading the disease through droplets and aerosols.
So how was the second COVID-19 vaccine appointment?
As I noted last time, the staff at the vaccination center booked my second appointment during my first appointment. Since federal regulators currently recommend three weeks between Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses, my second appointment was last Friday. I had my vaccination card (no, I’m still not showing it here) and my ID card ready for check-in, so I enjoyed another smooth assembly line from the check-in desks to the pre-shot waiting area.
Just like the first round, the actual “jab” merely lasted a few seconds. Though I did feel the needle shooting into my arm a little more this time, I nonetheless felt no pain during the actual “jab”. In total, I probably wasn’t even in “the jab room” for a full five minutes.
From there, I was guided into the post-shot observation waiting room, where staff checked for any potential adverse reactions. After 15 minutes of post-shot observation and triple-checking to make sure I had my newly updated vaccination card with me (no, I’m still not showing it here!), I left the vaccination center and returned more.
What about the side effects? And what lies ahead?
As I’m writing this, I honestly feel fine. I did ultimately feel some pain in the area of my arm where I got “the jab”, and I did experience some fatigue Friday and Saturday. I still have that sore spot on my arm, but the fatigue is gone.
Just as I noticed after the first shot, I don’t see any “Mark of the Beast” or “Property of the U.S. Government” label anywhere on my body. I’m not writing this from beyond the grave. And no, I’m not growing any gills or scales.
By the end of next week, my second vaccine dose should become fully effective. From there, I’m not sure yet when (or even if) I will “go back to normal” by the definition of how my life worked in February 2020, but perhaps I can establish a “new normal”. I’m starting to contemplate future work projects where I’m out in the field again. I’ve already scheduled my first summer season trip out of town in June. I’m looking forward to seeing more friends and family in person in the near future.
Honestly I was a little nervous going into my first COVID-19 vaccine appointment, but my second COVID-19 vaccine appointment was even easier and smoother than my first dose turned out to be. And as I said last time, your own vaccination journey is for you to decide. It’s your choice to make, and it’s a choice that can potentially be remarkably life-saving and incredibly helpful in putting an end to this pandemic once and for all.
Editor’s Note: Due to recent scheduling changes with the White House’s COVID-19 Briefings and Nevada Health Response’s press calls, we’ll probably post COVID-19 Updates on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the month of May. Stay tuned for additional updates on our COVID-19 coverage going forward.
If you have further questions about COVID-19 and your health, check Immunize Nevada for more information on vaccine availability in your area, check Nevada Health Response for testing in your area, and check Nevada 211 for more health care resources. If you’re in need of additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square. And for goodness sake, please wear your masks and maintain social distancing from people outside your household.