Hoo boy, it has been a wild week in the world of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia. From a late night press conference in which Scott Morrison – seemingly on a whim – announced anyone could get the AstraZeneca jab with their doctors approval, to the hot mess we saw on Wednesday when state leaders began to push back against Morrison’s advice.
But despite the shit show that has been Australia’s vaccine rollout, I rolled up my sleeve and got the AstraZeneca jab this week, so I thought I would share my personal experience.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, this is simply my experience in receiving my first AZ vaccination. For up to date statistics on Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome TTS as a result of the AZ vaccine, please visit the TGA website. For accurate, personal medical advice, talk to your GP.
Who Am I?
Obviously, getting the AstraZeneca shot isn’t going to be the right choice for everyone, but after hours of research (including writing quite literally 2,000 words on the situation on Wednesday) and consulting my doctor, I decided I was willing to take the risk.
I’m 22, I have no history of blood clots and am not immunocompromised. I don’t have any major underlying conditions, but have been diagnoses with endometriosis (which is unfortunately a grey area in the eyes of what the government considers to be an underlying condition).
Realistically, I probably could’ve fought to get the Pfizer jab, but after speaking to other women with endometriosis, I decided I would rather just take the risk and get AZ.
Getting The Vaccine
Like many young Australians, I don’t have a regular GP. Usually, I just attend my local bulk-billing clinic to get prescriptions and/or receive general care.
However, I actually got my AZ shot at a non-bulk-billing clinic in my area because it was the earliest place I could get in to see a doctor.
I didn’t expect to actually get the shot during the appointment, and basically just planned to go have a chat with my doctor about the possibility of booking in.
Luckily, my doctor happened to have a vial open at the time of my appointment and was able to jab me on the spot. However, I must stress that this was a fluke and may not be the case for everyone.
Before getting the jab, my doctor talked me through it all and was really informative and honest. Basically, he explained that the side effects (headache, nausea, etc) are pretty similar for both shots (AZ and Pfizer) and the major difference was the thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome TTS risk. He then explained that it’s a minor chance of actually developing TTS, and that it can be treated with proper medical attention, so he wasn’t particularly concerned in my situation.
I also had to sign a bunch of paperwork basically just confirming that I understood the risks and consented to being jabbed anyway.
The Jab Itself
I have a pretty high pain tolerance. I have tattoos (woaaaah super tough, I know) and also struggle with endometriosis (which means I’m constantly in at least a low level of pain), but I truly don’t think this shot was painful at all.
It’s obviously a needle, so it’s not pleasant, but comparatively, I’d say it’s less painful than the tetanus or HPV shot you get in high school.
The Side Effects
I got my shot at 4.30pm and felt totally fine for the rest of the afternoon and evening. However, the same could not be said for when I actually fell asleep.
Throughout the first night, I was woken up with a feeling of intense nausea multiple times. Not quite enough to vomit, but not enough to sleep pleasantly. I imagine this is what morning sickness feels like.
I’m going to be honest here, the next day was pretty shit.
I woke up for work (from home, thankfully) and managed to push through an hour of working from the comfort of my bed before deciding to go home sick. However, it’s worth noting that I have a full-time job and could afford to take a sick day to recover. If I was working casually I probably could’ve pushed through the day if I needed the money.
Like many people report, I had a mild headache, but for me the major symptom was nausea. It felt like the morning after a really big night of drinking, when the only way you can resist the urge to throw up is if you keep your head perfectly still. So basically, awful conditions to be working in.
Throughout the day, I tried to rest as much as possible. My headache worsened (but not to a point where I needed to take painkillers) and I had the chills.
I wasn’t completely bed-ridden, but when I tried to go to the shops to buy some lunch, it did not feel good to be leaving the house.
I’m currently writing this on day 2, which means I’m well enough to be back at work and feel pretty good. Granted, I’m still a little sluggish and my arm is still sore, but I no longer feel like I’m battling the worst hangover of my life.
Obviously, my experience isn’t going to represent everyone’s, so I asked some of my Twitter followers to share theirs as well.
Interestingly, lots of people cited that they had little to no symptoms other than a sore arm, while others likened it to a hangover.
No symptoms at all – about 6 weeks into waiting for 2nd dose.
— John Robb (@JohnRobbphoto) July 2, 2021
Got my first dose at lunch on Wednesday. The symptoms were similar to how I felt after I left falls festival. Or really any day after a festival. I feel fine now!
— Kyler the Creator (@TrentHowe23) July 2, 2021
I've had both shots! I'm immunocompromised, so I had a bit of a rougher time.
Primary side effects for me were joint pain, nausea, stomach pain and a nasty headache.
Best of luck!
— Eliza Sorensen (@Zemmiph0bia) July 2, 2021
The general consensus among people that I’ve spoken to is that the first jab is worse than the second when it comes to AZ. And even when people cited really awful symptoms, they only lasted 24 hours.
dose 1: knocked me the fuck out. probably the sickest i've felt in my adult life. whole body ached, fever of almost 40, pounding headache, couldn't sleep, the works. woke up the following morning and it was all gone.
dose 2: tired and headachey, went away in a few hours tbh
— jackson langford (@jacksonlangford) July 2, 2021
Although I’m out here sharing my side effects, I simply cannot stress enough how much these don’t make me regret getting the vaccine.
If you’ve got a super busy week at work or you’re in a final week of school, you might want to delay your appointment by a week or two so you’re not rocked if the symptoms hit you worse than you’d expect. But ultimately, it feels like a small price to pay for protection from COVID-19.
Your experience my differ from mine, so please talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have before getting your vaccine.
I’ll be sure to update this story in approximately two weeks when I’m fully vaxxed and loaded.