A few months ago, I was incredibly frustrated at how my state had prioritized their vaccine distribution. According to CDC guidelines, I am at a higher risk.
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
Having a weakened immune system can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Many conditions and treatments can cause a person to be immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system. Primary immunodeficiency is caused by genetic defects that can be inherited. Prolonged use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medicines can lead to secondary or acquired immunodeficiency.Taken from CDC Website, underlying done by me
Compromised vs. Suppressed
Please note that there is a difference in terms between immunocompromised and immunosuppressed. Many will argue that having adrenal insufficiency, or Addison’s Disease, does not make you immunocompromised. It does.
We are immunocompromised.
Our immune system is compromised. This is why we are on steroids. This is why when we get sick, we must bump dose, stress dose, or give ourselves an emergency injection. We must physically intervene and help out our immune system, as it is compromised.
We are not immunosuppressed. The amount of corticosteroids we take daily is not high enough to suppress our immune system. There is a difference. And, according to the CDC, I fall into group 1C for vaccine distribution.
What I do was more important than who I am.
While many states prioritized high risk health, my state did not. With how my state divided up the groups, my medical conditions qualified me for Group 4. That was only one step above Group 5, which included anyone that wanted the vaccine. However, I could also qualify under Group 3, an “essential worker.”
I work in a test lab that is part of a critical industry. We were deemed “critical manufacturing” and because my role had changed to require me to report on site every day, I qualified to receive the vaccine sooner. My job was a more important deciding factor over my medical diseases.
I do not agree with that prioritization. I absolutely believe that high risk medical should have come before “essential workers.” However, the delay between the groups was only a few weeks. And as of April 7th, anyone in my state who wants a vaccine is eligible to get the vaccine. So while frustrated, my state did do a good job at quickly expanding eligibility. As of April 8th, 40% of my state’s population of 18+ has been partially vaccinated. That is a good number.
Scheduling the Appointment
A coworker knew that I was frustrated and discouraged about my lack of ability to schedule a vaccine. She made it her mission to find me a way to get my shot. After doing a lot of research and having me sign up to be on the wait list in multiple counties, she asked if I had tried calling Walgreens.
I called Walgreens on a Friday night about 15 minutes before their pharmacy closed. They told me they had some extra appointments that Sunday. Could I come in at noon on February 28th? Absolutely.
Y’all, I was so nervous showing up to that appointment. I had no idea what to expect. But I was thankful that my mom was with me, just in case my Addison’s decided to do something. We followed the signs on the floor to the back of the store where I stood in a line specifically for COVID-19 vaccine check ins.
The First Pfizer Vaccine
When it was my turn, I was taken to a little side room for the injection. It did not hurt at all. My B12 shots are more painful. My solu-cortef shots are WAY more painful. This injection happened so fast and was so painless, I didn’t even realize she was done. But I will admit that I cried tears of relief at the significance of the shot. This is how we’ll end the pandemic.
After the injection, I was asked to wait in the store for 15 minutes. Because my mom was with me, I didn’t have to remain sitting in their designated waiting area. My mom and I could just shop at Walgreens.
Around two hours later, the fatigue hit me. This type of fatigue felt like mono fatigue, and not Addison’s fatigue. The entire time, my Addison’s disease seemed super stable. I did go to bed at 8:30pm that night and slept over ten hours.
Day two, I had no real discernible issues. Yes, my arm was sore, but it wasn’t bad. Day four, I did sleep another eleven hours because fatigue was so bad. But other than being tired, I had no real reaction.
Proof of Antibodies
I am still participating in a long term COVID-19 research study that tests antibodies every month. About twenty days after my first vaccine, it was time for my monthly antibody test. The results were different! The vaccine had spurred my body to produce antibodies for covid! The Pfizer vaccine worked!
I was incredibly excited that just a few weeks after my first dose, my body had already created the antibodies. Now I just tested positive for IgG. According to my endo, that is the long term antibodies. IgM antibodies are the short term antibodies that spike upon first exposure and then fade quickly.
The Second Pfizer Vaccine
When I showed up for my first shot, Walgreens had automatically made an appointment for me for the second shot. Although Pfizer second dose can technically be given 21 days after the first, Walgreens policy was every shot (Moderna or Pfizer) would be given exactly one month apart. On Sunday, March 28th, my mom and I drove back to that particular Walgreens (45 minutes, as I had moved) to receive my second Pfizer vaccine.
I had heard multiple horror stories of the second shot causing a more severe of a response than first shot, so I was prepared to surrender several days of being completely in bed. But honestly, my second shot was easier than my first shot. My left arm was just slightly sore, and I was just a tad bit tired around three hours afterward the vaccine jab.
Now around 36 hours after my second shot, a wave of fatigue hit me hard. But all things considered, it was not bad at all. We deal with way worse stuff for Addison’s disease all the time.
Although I am very vocal in my support for the vaccines, it didn’t mean I wasn’t nervous. I never quite know how my body reacts to things. But I trusted the science, and knew if my Addison’s did flare, I would address it and be able to handle it. I also believe that this Pfizer vaccine is WAY better than getting COVID-19.
To summarize, I was terrified but I did it anyway.
My fears were unfounded. There was no negative reaction to the Pfizer vaccine. And now, I love knowing that I’ve passed the two week mark for my second vaccine. I love going into my lab at work knowing that six of the seven of us that work in there daily have already received our vaccines. The thought of being able to start to socialize with my other vaccinated friends and relatives fills me with an unimaginable joy.
After a very difficult year, there is finally hope. That hope comes in the form of this vaccine. I highly encourage all who are able to get it, please do get vaccinated. If you live in the US and are struggling to find an open slot, try the COVID-19 Vaccine Spotter.
These vaccines are such a powerful tool to help us remain Clearly Alive.