My Experience with the COVID-19 Vaccine
I will be the first to admit that when the Covid vaccine first became available, I was weary of it. As a matter of fact, I was adamant that I would not be getting it. I felt that there was too much unknown about it (still sort of do), and I didn’t want to add another problem to my long list of illnesses.
Weighing the pros and cons of getting a COVID-19 vaccine with an ankylosing spondylitis
As more and more people around me got vaccinated, I started researching more about it, and I began considering the pros and cons. Not only do I have AS, but I also have vein disease and have had three pneumothoraces, leaving my right lung compromised. I decided to call my doctor up and get her thoughts on it. After that conversation, I scheduled my appointment with my local pharmacy.
I receive my first dose
On March 9th, I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine. I felt an odd sense of empowerment like I had been able to take control of something when I had felt completely powerless for the entire past year. And yes, I am guilty of snapping a photo of my vaccine card and proudly displaying it on my IG stories for all my friends and family to see.
Side effects from the first dose
Within 8 hours of receiving my first dose, my arm became extremely hard and sore. This is considered a normal reaction, so I was not concerned with it at all. Shortly thereafter, fatigue hit me like a freight train. I had gotten my vaccine at nine AM, so luckily, the fatigue hit right before bedtime. I ended up going to bed at 7:30 that night, and I slept like a rock. My arm remained sore for about three days, but that was the extent of my side effects.
I receive my second dose
I received my second dose on April 6th. I had been warned by family (and the media) that the second one would not be as kind to me as the first. They were not lying.
This time around, I received the vaccine around two PM. I noticed the pain in my arm came on a lot quicker this time around (about 3 hours after), and I also had a small, red rash around the injection site. Again, these are pretty common side effects, so I wasn’t bothered by them.
The side effects
That night at 11:30 PM, I was awoken out of my sleep by severe body aches. Ah, so this is what everyone had been warning me about. I was also severely nauseated and sweating profusely. After contemplating my next move, I decided I needed to get downstairs to get some Tylenol and Zofran.
Every bone in my body hurt. My legs, back, arms, collarbone, even my jaw was aching. I felt lightheaded as I made my way down the stairs, but I was able to get the meds and get back up to bed.
The following day I stayed in bed the entire day. I was weak, achy, had a pounding headache, and honestly just felt like garbage. The next day wasn’t much better either, but I expected it knowing I have autoimmune diseases.
Did the vaccine cause an AS flareup?
The one thing everyone wanted to know was if the vaccine caused my AS to flare up. In short, yes, but it was very minor. My AS is pretty well managed. I experience flare-ups every few months, but they are usually completely debilitating. The only thing I noticed after the second dose was a little extra stiffness in my left hip and some soreness in my tailbone. Nothing compared to the pain of a full-blown AS flareup.
How I'm doing now
I’m ten days out from the vaccine, and I feel pretty good. The small flare-up has been sticking around, but it’s nothing unbearable. I do want to say that I’m thankful for the opportunity to receive the vaccine. I feel a sense of relief knowing I’m somewhat protected from the virus.
Do what you feel is right for you
Receiving the vaccine is an extremely personal choice, and only you can determine whether or not you should get vaccinated. My advice is to always talk to your doctor and do what feels right for you! If you’ve received the vaccine, we’d love to hear your experience in the comment section below!
How much about your AS do you share with others?