My COVID19 vaccine experience: Dose two

I received my second dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID19 vaccine late last week and am now fully vaccinated against COVID19. After more than a year of isolating as a high-risk person on the shielding list, this is a positive step towards my eventual re-entry to The Real World when I can re-join society. I know that there are still risks and that we are not out of the COVID woods yet but for me, this is a sign that we are getting closer.

As with my first dose of the vaccine, I was contacted directly by my local doctor’s office for an appointment at their surgery – rather than going to a mass vaccination centre. This is because I am on the shielding list due to my two major, life-long medical conditions and my lack of a spleen and am therefore on the priority lists for the COVID19 vaccination programme as a “clinically extremely vulnerable” adult. I was given about a week’s notice last time but was only given one day’s notice for this round. Of course, working from home, just a mile and a half away, makes it easy for short notice!

Note: This post is intended to share my experience for my own records and future memory prompts. However, I hope that it might serve as useful information for anyone who might stumble upon it in the search for answers to their own vaccine questions. Please remember that your experiences may vary and that this is not meant to be medical advice in any form. That said, I do welcome conversations so please feel free to ask questions, comment, or share your own experience at the end of this post.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I have any professional health or fitness qualifications. This post is about my personal experiences with receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID19 vaccine. It is meant as an informational starting point – not as medical advice. Please consult your medical team if you have any questions or concerns about your own health.

Prior to receiving my first dose of the vaccine, I read through the potential side effects and I sought second dose stories from others about their experiences. Everyone I heard from reported fewer side effects after their second dose than they experienced after their first. I found this to be encouraging since my first dose side effects seemed to be milder than others, so I hoped this would mean Dose Two would be super easy for me.

However, I have enough life experience to know that it’s best to prepare for the worst – even if you are expecting a good outcome. So, I reviewed my Dose One experiences to remind myself of my baseline and to make sure I had everything I would need want for a day or two of post-vaccine recovery.

So, let’s get to the post-vaccine experience!

As with last time, I have broken this into days with some high-level hour-counts to give you an idea of the time scale by which I experienced side effects. The side effects were more mild and lasted for a shorter time, so this post (whilst still long) is shorter than the other. I have tried to keep the narration to a minimum, but regular readers will know I find it hard to shut up!

Day one: I’m fine, although a little more tired than normal.

As with Dose One, my appointment for Dose Two was in the early afternoon. I took my temperature shortly after waking up so that I would have a baseline for the next few days. That baseline was 97°F (36°C), which is in my normal range. I generally run lower than “normal”, which means my “fever” level is lower than normal*, too.

I had a busy morning with work meetings so was unable to run beforehand, so simply accepted that Vaccine Day would also be a Rest Day. As the forecast was for hail and heavy rain, I can’t say this was a disappointment! I also knew I would get plenty of fresh air walking to and from my appointment, as my rural GP’s office is about 1.5 miles from home.

2:30pm: Jag time! When I arrived at the surgery, I was directed to a seat in the waiting room. It wasn’t long before the nurse called me back for my jag.

After a brief confirmation that I’ve not been ill and that there’s no (realistic) chance I have COVID19, I received the jag in my right arm as I am a Proud Leftie. It was no more painful than the annual flu jag and was over in seconds. The nurse then asked if I had an information sheet from last time or if I needed a new one. (I have one, so declined.) We then had a bit of a gossip, as we always do when I’m in having bloods taken.

Unlike with my first dose, I did not sit in the waiting room for a bit before leaving. Instead, I just made my way out the doors and headed into the village to post a card to my sister-in-law and to buy myself a little “celebration treat” as part of my slow return to society.

On the walk home (and about an hour post-jag) I could start feeling a slight soreness at the injection site. Nothing more than I would expect after a flu jag though. And, unlike last time, I didn’t have an emotional response or any “odd” sensations from being hyper-aware of every little sensation.

5:00pm: I turned the heat up about an hour after I arrived home because I was feeling a little cold. I don’t know if that was just my being cold (I often am) or a post-jag reaction. But I cranked the heat last time after hearing stories of extreme post-jag chills from others and I didn’t seem to get chills then so it seemed wise to repeat the practice. I don’t that know cranking the heat is why I didn’t get the chills last time, but I didn’t want to risk the question of causation or coincidence. And I do like to be warm and cosy…

5:30pm: Three hours post-jag, I was feeling mostly OK. I still felt cold, but no chills which was good. My temperature was 97.2°F (36.22°C).

6:30pm: My eyes were starting to feel quite heavy and tired, and I began to wonder if I would manage to stay awake until my normal (10pm) bedtime. I was also more aware of the bruised feeling at the injection site. At the same time, I was feeling generally OK.

8:30pm: My temperature was holding steady in my normal range, but I was feeling tired and was starting to get the hint of a headache. I decided to take two (2) paracetamols at this point so that I could keep ahead of any further pain. I also turned the heat back to normal as I would be going to bed soon.

9:00pm: I was feeling very tired, so made my way to bed at 9pm. I recalled feeling very dehydrated overnight last time, and waking in sweats a couple of times, so I set an extra bottle of water beside my bed, just in case.

Overnight: Unlike last time, I slept through the night – if you don’t count waking up at 4.15. Which I don’t as that is only an hour earlier than “normal” after going to bed an hour early. So, it was a wash. I did feel thirstier than normal when I woke, but not nearly as bad as last time.

Day two: Feeling a bit “meh”, but nothing to cause concern.

4:15am: I woke up after my normal amount of sleep, but as it was so early (and a Saturday morning) I decided to cat-nap a bit. Although “cat-napping” was more “checking social media”. Still, I did snooze a bit and was out of bed by 6.00.

7:00am: I was out of bed by 6 and ran through my normal morning routine before taking my temperature, which was 97.3°F (36.27°C). I made sure to take my temperature before I started drinking my coffee, just to be sure! My arm was sore at the injection site, as if I was punched, but it was mild pain at worst and was more than bearable.

I was aware of how dehydrated I had been last time, so I spent the morning really hydrating with water, peppermint tea, and some watered-down cranberry juice.

11:00am: As the morning went on, I started to feel a little sore but nothing to warrant pain medication or even complaint. I was also feeling energetic enough to walk to the village post office to send a letter to a pen pal – something I would not have felt up to after Dose One but could have managed if needed. Temperature: 98°F (36.67°C).

12:30pm: I returned from the village at 12.30, having walked a total of 4.5 miles. I felt fine for the walk and was only mildly aware of my arm being sore. When I returned home, my temperature was up to 98.4°F (36.89°C), but I put that down to having just been out walking briskly, and not a rise due to fever.

2:00pm: At this point, I was nearly 24 hours post-jag, I was feeling mostly normal, and my temperature was holding steady at 98°F (36.67°C). I was feeling cold, so I turned the heat up a bit and I had the hint of a headache and soreness so decided to take two (2) paracetamol “just in case”.

7:00pm: My temperature was 97.4°F (36.33°C). I was feeling generally OK, but not quite myself. I was also hungry, but not to the extent I was after my first dose.

10:30pm: I went to bed just before 10.30pm, which was later than I expected as I was feeling tired earlier in the evening. But I got distracted by social media, as sometimes happens!

Overnight: I woke up at about midnight, but I feel it was “normal” restlessness as opposed to vaccine sleep interruption. I then managed to sleep through until my 5.30 alarm without issue.

Day three: Basically back to normal.

5:30am: I woke up when my 5.30 alarm sounded and felt fine, and my right arm was slightly sore at the injection site.

7:00am: Like the day before, I got out of bed at 6am and started on my normal morning routine before taking my temperature, which was 97.5°F (36.38°C). I generally felt fine and as if I was done with all side effects by this time (36 hours post-jag).

Throughout the day, I kept an eye on my temperature and paid a bit more attention to my body. However, everything felt normal. I did feel a little “meh” throughout the day, but I feel that was more about being a little more relaxed and “lazy” for a couple of days rather than because I was feeling unwell.

Indeed, I managed a good 5-mile run as well as several little chores and cooking tasks throughout the day. It was essentially a typical Sunday: A bit of running, a few chores, and a Skype chat with my Mummy to end the day.

And there you have it: My (overly detailed) experiences with the second dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine! Although there wasn’t nearly as much to say about this round. Which is a good thing!

A note on the vaccine effects as related to my bleeding condition (ITP): Like last time, I developed a few small petechiae on my lower legs, although there were fewer spots this time than last. As with last time, I don’t know if the petechiae are the result of the vaccine or the paracetamol (I only took 4 pills in total this time). I also didn’t seem to have any other bleeding symptoms so I am not overly concerned with this. If in the next few days this “minor” showing of petechiae changes and I develop worrying signs of a platelet crash, I will update this post. But I do not expect that will be the case. In fact, I feel confident that if I develop bleeding symptoms in the following days or weeks that it is likely just “normal ITP” bleeding/bruising and not a vaccine side effect. (ITP is a rare bleeding condition that leads to a low platelet count which can be made temporarily worse after vaccines, illness, or taking paracetamol.)

Anyhow, vaccination programmes in the western world are really picking up speed now and that gives me hope that all adults who want a vaccine will be able to get one before the end of the year – and hopefully a large portion of children aged 12 and older. It’s all looking quite positive, especially when I think about how stressed I was about it all last year!

I have been (mostly) isolating for more than a year now, and whilst I am quite privileged to be isolating where I am, I am ready to share my life with other humans again. My plan is to slowly re-join The Real World over the next few months with the hope that we can begin to return to some form of normal by the end of the year. I am also anxiously awaiting the day when I can safely travel home to America to see my family and hug my Mummy and Daddy!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I have any professional health or fitness qualifications. This post is about my personal experiences with receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID19 vaccine. It is meant as an informational starting point – not as medical advice. Please consult your medical team if you have any questions or concerns about your own health.

If you would like to share your experiences with the COVID19 vaccine or to ask more questions about my experiences, please feel free to comment below (or contact me privately). As per my comments policy, you may comment with a fake name and a fake email if you don’t want to be identified either publicly (name) or by me (email).

Recent studies suggest that the average temperatures are decreasing, especially in western nations. So, my “low” average probably isn’t that far of the real average.

– Image Copyright: Asian Development Bank, used under Creative Commons License.

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