Intruder Alert! The Vaccine Trials Volunteer Returns, Guest Post

Back in November, a friend and fellow blogger wrote about the vaccine trials, [Mood On Monday, Vaccine Trials Volunteer, Guest Post]. Installment two concerns the vaccine. Welcome, Been There, Done That.
A while ago, I wrote about volunteering as a guinea pig for the Moderna Covid vaccine trials. In January, their vaccine was approved for use by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for general distribution. Those of us participating in the trials were given the option of staying “blind” (the trials, remember, were double-blind; neither the doctor nor the patient knew whether we were getting the vaccine or a placebo) and continuing with the trials, being “un-blinded” and continuing with the trials, or being “un-blinded” and receiving the vaccine and continuing with the trials. Being scientists, their preference of course was keeping the guinea pigs blind and continuing with the trial that way. Being a reasonably intelligent person (my mother raised some very strange kids, but she didn’t raise no stupid ones), I opted to be “un-blinded”, found out that I had, in fact, received a placebo during the trials, and to receive the vaccine and continue with the trials.

So, at the beginning of January, I got my first shot. The process involved complete vitals again (as though I might have changed over the holidays), lots of blood drawing and nasal swab. Then the shot, a 30-minute observation period (to make sure that I didn’t grow horns and a tail or discover an overwhelming taste for brains), and home. No reaction, nothing. Nada. So far so good.

Last week, I got the second shot. Since my circulatory system was probably already crawling with all sorts of interesting wildlife, they didn’t draw blood or do swabs. No complaints there. Then the shot. The needle was so tiny that I didn’t even feel it. Remember, I’m a 15+ gallon blood donor, so I know from needles. A little soreness at the injection site after about 15 minutes, 30 minutes observation, then home. Feeling fine, went off to dance practice as scheduled and afternoon was no change.

That evening, I got hit with the worst set of chills I’ve ever had, to the point that my teeth were rattling and a temporary crown popped out! Two sweatshirts and longjohns and into bed with a heating pad, and half an hour later I was sweating up a storm. So take off the sweatshirts, change the sheets, get back in bed and go to sleep. So much for that.

The next morning, when I woke up, my stomach greeted me with “don’t even THINK about food”. Coffee seemed to be fine (odd, that) but nothing else. So I trotted off to the dentist to get the temporary put back in, but lucked out because the permanent crown had come in early, so they were able to seat that instead!

Anyway, my Irish peasant ancestral physique means that one day of fasting isn’t going to do me any harm, and by the second day, was back to normal routine. My trials contact said that the reaction meant that my immune system seems to have put out an “intruder alert” warning, and that with any luck, I am protected. She went on to stress that the vaccine is not 100% effective; that full protection won’t settle in for about 2 weeks, and that even though I might be protected, I can still transmit (see Typhoid Mary) and should continue to practice sensible procedures like social distancing, mask wearing and lots and lots of hand-washing. She also said that it is highly unlikely that we will get off the social distancing – mask wearing carousel for at least another year. At the earliest.

The saga continues.

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