COVID Vaccine: The third shot update!
It’s been over 36 hours since my third dose of COVID vaccine. For those who don’t know, I was designated as a vulnerable population and the veterans administration (VA) is apparently giving out the third dose to us now and to the general veteran population in the next month or two. Since I was one of the first getting my last two doses, I thought it would be wise to chronicle my experience.
For those just joining in you can read about the first shot experience (here) (here), the second shot experience (here)(here) and yesterdays third shot (here). As always I’ll start off with the general stuff that we need to keep in mind. The point of these posts is to help encourage people to get vaccinated and not be afraid of the mRNA vaccine. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, I aim to help fix that.
The mRNA vaccine was decades in the making. A condensed version of the last thirty years (30, as in three decades) of research is covered (here). There was a lot of research that had to happen before the mRNA vaccine could be created and it isn’t the first one we’ve made, just the first that’s made it to FDA approval (well pfizer anyway). The mRNA vaccine is covered in a lipid nanoparticle to make sure the body doesn’t destroy it, mRNA is a very fragile thing and that discovery was made well before COVID hit too (here). So as I keep saying, we got extremely lucky with the timing.
The reason we got so lucky was that COVID-19 wasn’t the first, COVID-19 is classified as SARS-CoV-2. The 2 means we’ve seen this guy before, SARS-CoV-1 hit back in 2003 (here). The difference between the two viruses are subtle, but in 2003 you may (or may not depending on your age) remember the panic we had over the virus. The stuff we’re living through now was the stuff we were freaking out about back then. It caused a lot of the same stuff that COVID-19 causes, mostly because they are the same family of virus (here).
The good news was that the virus had an R0 of < 1, which meant it would eventually contain itself. Quick recap on R0 numbers! R0 is the average number of people that will be infected by a single person. A R0 of 1 means that the virus would be self sustaining, a R0 greater than 1 means it would grow, and an R0 of less than 1 means that less than one person gets infected on average so it would eventually go away. R0 is not something intrinsically linked to the virus, it also has to do with us and how we deal with it.
The reason SARS-CoV-1 had such a low R0 was because symptoms appeared relatively quickly when a person got infected (here). That meant it was easy to quarantine the people who got sick and contain the spread of the virus before it got bad. COVID-19 on the other hand has a rather long period of incubation. A time where you are contagious, but do not show symptoms (roughly 2 weeks). So that’s how we got into this mess, people felt fine, they looked fine, they didn’t know they were sick and it spread.
The R0 value for COVID19? Somewhere in the range of 3, so 3 people infected by every 1 person who is infected. That adds up quickly and while it doesn’t feel like it, once the number gets big it gets huge even faster. For every 1 person 3 people get infected so 1, 3, 9, 27, 81, 243, 729, 2187, 6561, 19,683. That’s just 10 “links” into our chain reaction and because it’s exponential growth (which humans don’t understand very intuitively) you probably don’t believe me, but go ahead check the math. That isn’t total cases either, that’s NEW case (the total value would be 1,048,576). The R0 for the delta variant is ~5-7 depending on who calculated it (here is a study done for 5). If we ran the numbers again, but this time used the R0 of 5 we would end up with a total value of 60,466,176 for just 10 links in our chain.
In short, we all need to do our part. That means getting vaccinated when you can, mask when you need to go out, get tested if you think you may be sick, and stay the hell home if you find out you are sick. Hell, if you’re afraid of the vaccine or have questions, ask I will be happy to point you in the right direction. Don’t trust me, trust the science and all the people who have been vaccinated safely. It’s okay to be nervous, but we all need to do our part, that includes being vaccinated.
Which brings me to the update for today. Since I’m high risk I got a third COVID shot to help with the whole delta issue. They will (hopefully) retool the mRNA vaccine for the delta strain, but until that happens I’ll take what I can get. The good news is that compared to my second shot this one was a cakewalk. I feel achy, but at a tolerable level where I can still function and do what I need to do. My joints feel a little odd, so that’s new. It could be the response to the vaccine, it could be my own health issues, no clue. I do feel kind of restless, but again that may not be from the shot at all, that could be me. Overall it was good, the second shot caused a massive headache (migraine really). I have problems with migraines normally so I guess it was bound to happen and others have complained about it. It’s a rarer side effect, but it wasn’t fun.
I’m happy to report as of now I have yet to have any issues and frankly I’m feeling fine. Still a little drained, but that may be because I didn’t sleep well last night (not vaccine related). Overall I’m very happy with the fact that I got the third shot. I’m particularly happy that I had side effects, I mean I know, no one wants them, but it was reassurance that I actually got vaccinated. With the random anti-vax nurses and shit happening where people are being injected with water (this story scared the crap out of me), it’s just one less thing I need to worry about.
So yeah, pretty uneventful, but that’s a good thing! As I mentioned yesterday, the marvel of the mRNA vaccine isn’t the technology exactly, it’s that it can be adapted very quickly for variants. I’m hopeful that we’ll soon see a modified vaccine that could offer better protection against the emerging strains and if we’re lucky we can get in front of this and stop the needless deaths that are happening.
As always, wear the damn mask and get vaccinated.