UD community members share their experiences with the COVID-19 vaccine

People within the campus community shared their experiences getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Kaitlin Lewis    
News Editor

One year into the pandemic, NPR reported that around 19.1 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In the state of Ohio, 10.5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. This gives hope to many, as the end of the health orders seem to be in sight. However, some adults in the U.S. are still unsure about the vaccine’s safety and long-term effects.

There are currently three types of vaccines being distributed: the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require two doses to be fully vaccinated, while the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine only takes one.

Adults 50-years-old and up, or adults in a profession or with a medical condition that puts them at greater risk for the virus, are eligible to receive the vaccine in Ohio.

As with any vaccination, the CDC warns of possible side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. The most common is a sore arm in the spot of the injection. However, others have experiences chills, body aches and fevers. 

Junior Health Science major Abigail Shahady said she received the Pfizer vaccine for being a member of UD Emergency Medical Services (EMS). As medical personnel, Shahady and her student colleagues were able to be vaccinated at the Dayton Convention Center along with other frontline workers.  

Shahady got her second dose of the vaccination on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27. Around 10 hours later, while studying at the library, she started feeling chills and a low-grade fever.

“It felt like I had the flu,” Shahady said. “It wasn’t intense, but it was definitely a moderate reaction and not just soreness in my arm.”

Shahady said her reaction did not last more than 24 hours, but was “pretty shocking,” as the fever came on suddenly after hours of feeling fine. Shahady added that some of her roommates, who are fellow EMS members, also had moderate reactions to their second dose of the vaccine, such as a fever and muscle aches.

Shahady’s reaction seems to follow a trend with others who have been vaccinated. McKenzie Schaff, a junior pre-med major at UD, also experienced side-effects after receiving her second dose of the Moderna vaccine. Schaff volunteered as a COVID testing technician over winter break and received her vaccines halfway between UD and her home in Indiana.

Schaff retold a very similar story to Shahdy — about 10 hours after receiving the second dose on a Wednesday morning, Schaff very suddenly started feeling chills and a low-grade fever.

“My fever broke the next morning, but I still felt like I had gotten hit by a bus,” Schaff said. “So I missed all my classes and a lab on Thursday. But then I was completely fine. Like on Friday, I went skiing, I felt that fine.” 

The side effects being felt by the COVID-19 vaccine are very similar to the ones the flu vaccine can cause. However, there is some hesitation about receiving the vaccine as soon as it’s made available.

A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that over one-third of adults in America said that they want to “wait and see” how the COVID-19 vaccines are working for other people before they decided to receive their free doses. This group expressed high levels of concerns about the side effects of the vaccines and the potential long-term effects the vaccine could leave.

Shahady said that while she knows there is some hesitation, she fully trusts the COVID-19 vaccines, and has not faced any long-term side effects. While she was required to receive the vaccine as a healthcare worker, Shahady said she would have chosen to get vaccinated as soon as it was made available to her age group. 

“I am definitely a proponent of this vaccine and the technology behind it, too,” Shahady said. “I’ve done some research on it as well and I find it to be pretty safe and effective all things considered.” 

Schaff explained that the reactions people feel from the COVID-19 vaccine are actually a sign that immunity is being built. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA to carry harmless “spike” proteins into the body. This sparks an immune response, which leads to the creation of antibodies that know how to fight off the virus the next time it enters the bloodstream.

“Part of having any sort of infection, whether it’s bacterial or viral, you’re going to have an elevated temperature, you’re going to have aches and chills, and that’s completely normal — that’s your body trying to kill the virus,” Schaff said.

“So when you get a fever in response to vaccination, that’s just your body prepping your cells and prepping your immune response. So it’s actually a good sign if you’re having any sort of reaction.”

Dr. Natalie Hudson, a political science professor at UD, has received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and also experienced a low-grade fever about a day after being vaccinated.

Despite these reactions, Hudson has no regrets about being vaccinated and feels that to do so is her personal responsibility to contribute to herd immunity. 

“I definitely see public health and immunity as a public good and a responsibility of all healthy citizens,” Hudson said. “There are some people who can’t get the vaccine for preexisting conditions and other things. So that’s all the more reason for people who can to do so when it’s our turn.”

Hudson was able to receive the vaccine through a walk-in appointment at the UD Arena. A friend of hers notified that there were extra vaccines available, and Hudson happened to get an open slot, while some other friends that went that day were denied a vaccine. 

“I did feel a little guilt, I’m not quite old enough and I didn’t have any preexisting conditions, but I also don’t think we should be throwing them away,” Hudson said. “That was a decision that I made that it was better for me to get one than for them to throw one away.” 

Shahady said that she encourages anyone to get the vaccine when it’s made available to them, regardless of age or medical history, in order to keep pushing vaccine distribution forward.

“I know people also worry about ‘I don’t need it as much as this person and they’re not up for it yet,’” Shahady said.

“Unfortunately, we can’t determine how the states decide how to distribute the vaccines, but making sure you get it within your phase I think is important to keep it moving along, because overall I do think the vaccine will be effective in producing herd immunity.”

Shahady said she was glad to now be fully vaccinated so that she can continue her job in health care. Like Hudson and Schaff expressed as well, Shahdy does not feel any regrets about receiving the vaccine or has fear of the future. 

“I did not enjoy the 24 hours I felt like I had the flu, but again, I felt like it was very mild to a moderate reaction,” Shahady said. “Working as a health care worker and feeling safe in my job when I walk into someone’s house — it’s been very nice to have a little more peace of mind in keeping myself safe.” 

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