With the COVID-vaccine rollout now gaining more traction and reaching into the general public, we thought it would be a good idea to share our experience with the vaccines. Both of us received our two-dose vaccines mid-January to February, with Kareena receiving the Pfizer vaccine and Soumya receiving the Moderna vaccine. While the symptoms and side effects that we each experienced were vastly different in intensity and frequency, we feel it is important to acknowledge that each individual’s reaction to the vaccine is completely different, and it is difficult to quantify or predict the effects prior to vaccine administration.
Kareena: While the typical side effects of the COVID vaccine include arm soreness, fatigue, and nausea, I was very surprised when I experienced absolutely no side effects after both doses. My arm was sore for only about two to three hours, which I was thankful for because I had a nine-hour work shift the next day after both vaccine doses. I am really glad that I was eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, as I work with unmasked dermatology patients on a weekly basis. While we perform COVID pre-screening questionnaires and temperature checks for all patients, these measures are not fully preventative. I am often working in close proximity with twenty to thirty patients per shift and performing treatments that require me to be only a few inches away from the patient’s face. Prior to receiving the vaccine, I was extremely nervous about making my family and friends around me sick, and I contemplated whether I should continue my job given the level of direct patient exposure. However, after receiving the COVID vaccine, I feel a lot more safe when working in the clinical setting, knowing that I am less of a risk to my family and roommates.
Soumya: Prior to getting my vaccine, I remember reading numerous online articles about the side effects and symptoms, in eager preparation. After I received my first dose, I experienced intense arm soreness, fatigue, and lethargy. While my side effects forced me to a couple days of bed rest, they were transient in nature, as I was back to being fully able to do my school and work obligations within a few days! When I received my second dose, my side effects were definitely more pronounced than the first time as I experienced severe nausea and dizziness in addition to the other symptoms. However, despite these symptoms, I was able to recover in the same time frame - just 2-3 days! Overall, getting the COVID-vaccine has offered me an immense sense of safety and security being a first-responder in the prehospital setting. For almost the last eight months, working as an EMT has exposed me to a plethora of actively symptomatic, COVID-positive patients. While we had always gotten the proper PPE, such as P100 respirators, face shields, and isolation gowns when in contact with COVID-positive patients, receiving the COVID-vaccine has provided me with the added confidence that I can effectively treat my patients without risking exposure to my friends and family in the case of any mishap, such as a broken mask seal.
We hope that our experiences working in healthcare settings offered some insight into the two vaccines and their potential side effects/symptoms. UCLA recently declared all UCLA employees and student workers are eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, and we hope that in the coming months, vaccine distribution will be more widespread in hopes of returning to in-person instruction in the Fall. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine, we strongly recommend you to take the opportunity to not only prioritize your own health, but also the wellbeing of those around you!