We're a little crazy, about science!

COVID Vaccine: The third shot!

It’s official, I got my third COVID vaccine shot. With delta ramping up and the long-term effectiveness of the vaccine being questioned there has been a push for a third shot. mRNA vaccines had the promise of being easily adaptable to new strains, it’s why we’ve been doing research on them since the mid-60’s, so it would’ve been prudent to adjust the vaccine to compensate for the new pervasive strain. Alas! It was not meant to be, at least not yet. It’s a little frustrating, but I am hopeful new variants of the vaccine will be forthcoming. So why did I get the shot?

The short answer is because I’m in a vulnerable patient population group. The VA (veterans’ hospital) has authorized a third shot for the people at high risk. I am not obese, I don’t smoke, I don’t have lung problems, and I’m not immunocompromised (at the moment I guess, a lot of that is still pending), BUT I fell in the cancer group. Yep your favorite lunatic had a cancer issue earlier last year when I had so there was a lot of medications, a lot of hoping for the best, and a lot of suffering. I share a lot of myself here. I’ve talked about suicide, depression, and even my stays in mental hospitals, but at the time it felt too personal to share.

Anyway surprise, cancer was never on my COVID bingo, but here we are. The rates are actually pretty high for veterans (burn pits, among other things) so I guess I shouldn’t be super surprised. I still don’t really feel like going into detail, so let’s just leave it there. Maybe I can revisit it when the feelings aren’t so raw.

So I got the call last week that I was eligible for the third shot and I made my appointment! Since I’ve blogged about my experiences with the other two shots, I wanted to do the same for this one. The second one really wasn’t fun, but so very, very worth it! I’ve gotten the shot as of a few hours ago and so far it’s the usual slight arm soreness, but nothing serious. Hopefully it stays that way!

For transparency sake, vaccine experiences are pretty unique to the person. While there are trends, some will have worse effects from it than others depending on how ramped up your immune system gets. The first shot (here) I felt fine, a little sore, but I didn’t think anything of it. I expected the second shot to be basically a repeat, but the second one (here) caused me to have serious headaches and just general flu like symptoms for roughly 24 hours after the shot.

Literally, I went to bed when I got the second shot I knew it was working because I started feeling like I had the flu. By the following evening I was perfectly fine. That feeling, that’s the immune system doing its thing. I was happy to see that I had a nice, strong, reaction to the shot. It also makes me a little anxious about how I would’ve responded to actual COVID and I’m curious if there would be a relationship between vaccine response and severity of COVID, but that kind of research would probably be very difficult to do since you can’t predict vaccine response.

Which brings us up to date. The third shot is the same as all my others, Pfizer. Now the first two doses I got through my work at the hospital, but this third dose came from the VA, which makes me a little nervous, I don’t trust the VA. However, I wanted to get it as quickly as possible since things are getting bad and I am being forced to attend school in person (I have exactly one in person class as a requirement for my degree, which I need to enroll every term for so I don’t count it as a degree requirement exactly).

So far the shot feels like a repeat of the last two. I don’t feel sick, I don’t feel much of anything. Like I mentioned, there’s a little soreness, but it’s not better or worse than the last two times. I don’t know how I’ll feel tonight, but I’ll make sure to update everyone tomorrow on how the whole thing went. Since there aren’t a lot of people who’ve gotten the third shot, I’m not 100% sure if I should be expecting to have any sort of effect from it. Maybe I’ll feel like I have the flu again, maybe I won’t. I haven’t seen anyone else talking about it yet.

In any case, so far so good so I’ll take that as a sign that things will go smoothly… hopefully. While I’m thankful for the booster and the fact that the US generally has access to the vaccine (for those who aren’t being completely ignorant), I’m still a little annoyed that there is such a gradient of access around the world. Some countries have better access to the vaccine than others and if we’re going to beat this, we need to do it together.

And yes, that means wearing your damn mask (here)! This could all be over incredibly quickly if we could collectively pull our heads out of our asses and start caring about people other than ourselves. Now the same people who decided to horde toilet paper (why?!) have decided that they don’t care about killing off large swaths of people because they aren’t pulling a trigger and if you haven’t noticed, it’s really pissing me off. It’s like we’re living in a death cult, wear the damn mask, save the lives of the people around you, and if we work hard enough we can get rid of this thing and you can go back to your concerts and parties, simple!

Well I’ll get off my soapbox, besides chances are if you’re reading this, you’re already doing your part so screaming into the void doesn’t actually accomplish much. It’s just that I do research in a hospital, I know how bad things are and how no matter how anti-mask a person is, they don’t want to die. They are cool with others dying, but they want to live and the fact of the matter is, while a lot of people will, some won’t and those that do will have (possibly) life-long issues from the infection.

Now for the get your vaccine plug:

While the third shot isn’t available for everyone yet, you can still do your part to stop the spread. If you’re on the fence about getting your first shot, feel free to read my posts on the science behind the vaccine and why it didn’t just appear out of thin air, we got incredibly lucky with the timing (here). You can also read my accounts of the first (here)(here) and second (here)(here) shots.

I can understand that the science is confusing and there are a lot of very loud people telling you to avoid getting the shot or that the vaccine was rushed. It was not rushed it was decades in the making and millions of people have gotten it and are just fine. You know who aren’t fine? Most of the people who get COVID. You hear horror stories of long COVID or you hear stories of people dying, literally hundreds of people in the US alone, daily. These are scary times, but trust the science and if you don’t know where to look, my post (again here) has citations for everything I say (wear the damn mask has some good citations as well).

The point being is scientists aren’t that well paid. Researchers aren’t in it for the money, trust me my Co-PI has a PhD/MD and he could’ve been a regular doctor making more than he does now. We go into research because we care and want to help people. A vaccine isn’t the work of one person, it’s a group effort of hundreds if not thousands of people. While science isn’t always right, it’s the closest thing we have to understanding how the world works. Trust the science and more importantly trust the consensus! There will always be quacks in science/medicine/etc., but if 100 researchers are telling you the vaccine is safe and one is telling you it is not, listen to the majority.

In short, get vaccinated, wear the mask and let’s finally put an end to the COVID era once and for all.


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