What to Expect When You Get the COVID Vaccine – A personal experience


We’ve waited a long time to finally get word that the vaccine was effective and ready to go into the arms of the American citizens. When President Trump was in office, he had the states administer the process which became a total mess. Every state did it differently and had different categories. In New York, you had to go to a website and call until your fingers hurt from dialing so much. Or, if you could figure it out, go on the website and try to get an appointment.

Hofstra notification

When I was notified by Hofstra that all professors were eligible, I started calling. With my pre-existing condition of asthma, I wanted to make sure I got the vaccine. Like most of you, I’ve been hibernating since last March.

After hours of calling and finally getting someone saying they were out of shots, I gave up. I went home and my son helped me navigate the website and figure out how to get an appointment.

The website crashed five times. We had to put in my insurance card and pertinent information each time. It was very frustrating.

When I finally got in, the website gave me the option of where to go. Upstate New York? Queens? Westchester County? There was nothing on Long Island. I chose Queens.

Getting the first vaccine

I had a date. I was nervous, anxious, excited. The one thought going thru my head, “now I’ll get to see my dad, without thinking that I was going to die in the process.”

I drove to Queens and parked the car. I walked up to the school and a few helpful people came up to me. “Please fill this out,” a young man said. He gave me his iPad. I answered the questions and the man told me to go inside the building.

In the building

I walked into a gymnasium. There were lines of tables with nurses stationed at each one. When someone was finished, the nurse held up a sign. A security guard stood by the door and wouldn’t let anyone in unless there was an opening.

“Okay, you’re up,” the security man said to me. “Go to number 16.”

Number 16

getting the shot

“Hi,” I said to the nurse. “Is your name Hilary Topper?” she asked me. I shook my head. She pulled out the vial and a fresh needle.

While she was preparing, I said, “please go easy.” “Oh, don’t worry dear,” she said, “I will.” And with that, she punctured my arm. I felt it a little. It didn’t hurt much.

When she was finished, she told me to go to another room and sit for 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t have any reactions.

I did that, then went home. I felt fine.

The next day

The next day, I woke up feeling fine. After going to work, at around 2 pm, it hit me. I didn’t expect to have any reactions. I heard that after the second dose you can get reactions but not the first.

After researching a little, I found that the CDC said that you could have a headache, chills and aches after the first shot. And, that’s what I had. From 2 pm until the next day, I felt bad. But the following day I woke up feeling great.

Waiting for the second shot

I had to wait four weeks before getting the second dose. I had an appointment in Queens but the day of the appointment was another major snowstorm so I pushed it off a day and went to another location.

The stress and anxiety prior to the second shot was intense. All I kept thinking was what if I get those flu like symptoms?

Second shot

The second shot didn’t run as well as the first. I got to the location early, almost an hour early. One of the volunteers told me that it was no problem. I stood on line socially distanced. As I got to almost the front of the line, a woman came out and said, “we are now going by appointment only. Someone complained and this is what needs to be done.”

I wasn’t happy. I had already waited more than 20 minutes and now, I may have to wait another hour? I asked the woman what to do. “Should I leave and come back?” I asked. She told me to stay.

“Okay, everyone with a 12 pm appointment come to the front of the line,” she said. My appointment wasn’t until 1:30. I patiently waited.

When it was my turn

I got on the line yet again. Now, I had been waiting more than an hour in the cold. It was snowing and the wind was making it intolerable. I’m not sure why I left my hat and gloves in the car. I didn’t think I would be waiting this long.

I was checked in by a friendly volunteer and followed the people in front of me. We still waited outside for a long time, it felt like a lifetime. Then, the door opened and I followed the people in my grouping inside. Once inside, there was yet another line. I waited. I felt like I was waiting my whole life for this…

Polio vaccine

When I was growing up my mother insisted I take every shot imaginable to help protect me from getting sick. She had polio and was in an Iron Lung for most of her childhood and she knew how bad these infections could be. When she turned 50, the polio came back. She ultimately passed away from it but she would have been proud that I was getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

Back on line

I was escorted to a large room with lots of people getting the vaccine. I was told to go to number 29. (I didn’t have my glasses on because they fog up too much with the mask. So, I looked for someone waiving a sign.) I walked over to number 29 and sat down. I was nervous. Will I get a bad reaction? Will I be sick for days following this?

“Did you get a reaction to the first shot?” the nurse asked me. “I had a bad headache and the chills but that was it,” I answered.

“You will probably feel something again,” he said to me.

Hey, I didn’t care, at least I could start getting out of my house for the fear of getting covid.

The next day

I just felt tired all day, overly tired like my eyes couldn’t stay open. I also had a headache that turned into a migraine. My chest hurt and I felt dizzy. Since I don’t get a fever, I had a very low grade one. My temperature is normally 96/97, so when I get a fever of 99, it’s a fever for me. I slept all day and all night.

When I woke up the next day, I felt great as if nothing ever happened.

Feeling emotional

I felt emotional for all those people who passed away from this deadly virus, including a few people I knew. I felt emotional for those who got the virus and now are long-haulers. I pray that they finally get better. And, I felt emotional that I can finally see my dad after almost a year! Although I don’t know if he will know me, just seeing him will make me feel better.

I’m grateful that I got the vaccine and for those of you who are hesitant, it’s only one day of discomfort and then you’re good to go. If you get COVID, you can get it again, so please get the shot! You don’t know what the next time will bring and as our country just passed 500,000 deaths from this virus, let’s all do our part and save one another by getting the vaccine.

Sidebar — When I went to the gym the day after my second shot, one of my new gym friend’s asked if I had a reaction to the second shot. I told her I had a bad reaction, in particular my chest and lungs hurt me. She said, “you see, you did the right thing. Could you imagine if you got COVID?” Hmmmm…. she had a good point!