I Just Got My First COVID-19 Vaccine. It Was No Big Deal. Get Yours ASAP!

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar expedited an increased supply of vaccines and expand the age groups eligible to receive them as well as locations where people can get shots.

However, the federal government will only give more vaccine doses to states that are giving them out correctly. When seniors and other at-risk individuals are being called and able to get their vaccinations in the late evening (like after 10:00 PM), that shows a given state or locality means BUSINESS when they want to provide widespread vaccinations to their constituents.

Fortunately, the state of California and its counties are pushing to give vaccinations to patients 65 and older.

California plans to vaccinate most Californians in all 58 counties by summer 2021. To date, the track record of California’s county administrations has been less than stellar (it’s been downright awful in some localities), but “hope springs eternal”, and tomorrow is another day…and hopefully a BETTER day with respect to widespread vaccination.

Well, after a lot of efforts at a local level, last Saturday my own medical group was able to score a significant amount of vaccine doses for its nurses and providers. Many of us know patients and colleagues who got COVID-19 and are trying to avoid getting it ourselves.

Four quick issues to remember:

1) Some of us in our medical group got the virus after the first dose, and it’s a few months before they should get the second dose for the immune effect to kick in correctly, so it’s still a race against time between getting the virus and getting the vaccine dosings to kick in.

2) Some in our medical group know colleagues who got the virus, and we know our patients are lying through their teeth right and left about exposure to COVID-19…or even having the symptoms of COVID-19.

Some of my patients were unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19 by lying coworkers who didn’t want to miss work and/or income. When I say it’s a race against time, it’s no exaggeration.

3) All of us in our medical group know patients who either got COVID-19, and/or had relatives who’ve died of COVID-19. Many of them were exposed to the virus unnecessarily, and also died unnecessarily. This is no hoax, and every doggone day without a vaccine is another day of significant risk.

4) COVID-19 is “Russian Roulette“. Some of us got it and don’t know. Some of us got a slight cold. Some of us get nailed for a couple of weeks or longer. And some of us get either permanently disabled or die.

As for my own experience with the Moderna vaccination first injection, it left me with a sore left shoulder for 3 days (at the injection site). Hence it was a good idea to have it done on Saturday. The soreness was absolutely gone in 72 hours. I was also a bit tired over the weekend (of course, I usually am after a work week).

And I’ve filed these slight side effects under “WHO GIVES A RIP!”. You should hold that same opinion.

Have you ever had a cold with aching sensations, and/or leaving you a bit tired? Of course you have–the chemicals (interferons and cytokines) your body makes to rev up your immune system is the reason you feel lousy, and that’s not due to the virus itself. Hence the vaccinations’ side effects mean that the vaccination is WORKING.

But I assure you that your body’s response to the COVID-19 ranges from small to fatal–much of the reason that doctors aren’t avoiding the treatment of autoimmune diseases and other conditions requiring immunomodulatory drugs is because those drugs actually save you from the “cytokine storm” that kills you.

Yes, it’s YOUR body’s immune response that normally kills you with COVID-19, with the virus being the trigger. Normal levels of Vitamin D might prevent things from getting bad, but increased levels of any vitamin than normal doesn’t do much.

All we can do is get immunized, so that the virus doesn’t cause havoc:

1) Some of us want to get back in the line out of a social justice approach. Fine–but the more medical personnel and high-risk individuals who get vaccinated, the less likely the “spider’s web” of exposures in our general population will be broken up.

2) Some of us want to wait until others get the vaccinations, and are concerned about the vaccines being “rushed”. Fine. If you want to wait until those of us getting vaccinated grow a third arm out of our injected shoulders or not in the next few months, then do what you can to do the mask/social distance/precautions. But ongoing experience and data still does NOT show it’s a problem.

3) Remember–if you didn’t know already–that the mRNA technology used by Pfizer and Moderna is the ONLY type of vaccine technology that can be created this quickly. It’s the new technology that allowed us the quick vaccinations–old-school technologies require well over a year or two to become eligible for safe and widespread use.

This mRNA technology is NEW and used only for this pandemic–hence it’s new technology that is allowing us to recover from a pandemic that normally lasts for years and kills potentially up to tens of millions. The Moderna vaccine has recently been calculated to achieve safe and long-term protection for up to a year, and there’s no reason to presume that the same will hold true with the Pfizer vaccine.

4) Some are concerned about the increasing number of allergic reactions reported. For any rapid-to-market vaccine, this allergic response is still RARE and MINOR. So, you wait 15-30 minutes after the vaccine before you leave to go home.

AND? SO? WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

Get your vaccine injections, and both of them, before you/we get the “Russian Roulette” that is COVID-19.

As in ASAP! As in … STAT!

(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 8-9 years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)

-cw

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