Tim McDonough

Tim McDonough

In this very space three months ago, I wrote about the experiences my wife, Connie, and I had after contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Exactly three months to the day that column appeared in The Crescent-News, Connie and I both received our first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the local Kroger pharmacy in Defiance.

It was after much discussion, debate and with some trepidation, we decided to get vaccinated.

It wasn’t an easy decision.

I have to admit, Connie did most of the research on the vaccines (I did some, not anywhere near as much as she did), which led to a lot of questions.

Some of the questions we asked ourselves included:

“Is the vaccine safe?”

“The FDA hasn’t officially approved the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, so what does it mean when the CDC says they have been given emergency use authorization?”

“We’ve already had COVID, will we have a worse reaction to the vaccine than someone who didn’t contract COVID?”

Let’s address those questions, one at a time.

Are vaccines safe?

According to Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention, and Gabor Kelen, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, in an article on hopkinsmedicine.org:

“Research to date indicates the vaccines for COVID-19 have a very good safety profile. Data from the manufacturers show that the known and potential harms of becoming infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outweigh the potential safety risks of the vaccines.”

How is emergency use authorization different from FDA approval?

According to fda.gov:

“An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“Under an EUA, the FDA may allow the use of unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions when certain statutory criteria have been met, including that there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives.”

How do the vaccines affect people who have had COVID-19?

According to gavi.org:

“Tens of millions of people have already been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, and in the coming months, hundreds of millions more will follow. Many of them will experience minor adverse reactions in the hours and days after receiving each dose, such as a sore arm, mild fever, headache or fatigue.

“Such reactions are not only normal, usually appearing within a day or so of vaccination and disappear soon afterwards, but they may also be a sign that the vaccine is working – although you shouldn’t be alarmed if you don’t experience any adverse reactions.

“They may also be MORE common if you’ve already recovered from COVID-19, because your immune system is primed to respond to the virus — including harmless fragments of it or instructions for them, contained within vaccines.”

After receiving our first dose, Connie and I both had a reaction.

We both had pain at the injection site, headache, body aches and fatigue, while I spiked a mild fever.

After talking with other people we knew who had contracted COVID, we found most had a similar reaction after getting that first dose.

We have our second dose scheduled for the middle of next month, so here’s hoping the reaction won’t be a bad one.

At this point, Connie and I are hopeful getting vaccinated will allow us to return to a more “normal” routine in the future, although neither of us knows what that truly means.

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