Reporter: Vaccine reaction slight, worth it

Editor's note: In this story, The Herald is not advocating for or against the COVID-19 vaccine. We are simply sharing one reporter's experience receiving it.


Candy Neal

People can have varying reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine.

For me, the reaction was slight.

I took my first dose of the vaccine Saturday afternoon at Jasper Middle School. It was the Moderna brand, so I will have a second dose in four weeks.

As soon as the state opened the vaccine for Hoosiers age 50 and older on March 3, I was online at to register for a dose.

The sign-up process was simple. I plugged in my birthdate and ZIP code and was given a choice of multiple locations in southern Indiana, including two in Dubois County — the health department and Jasper Middle School. I chose the middle school, because I figured there would be people going in and out and that I would recognize someone.

I did not complete my registration at that time because I needed my insurance information, which I didn’t have on me. I wish I had, because Saturday’s process would have gone even faster.

I made sure I arrived a couple minutes before my 1:40 p.m. appointment. I’d heard Shawn Werner, administrative director of the health department, say that arriving too early would mean more people waiting for their vaccine time. And the staff were trying to avoid too many people lingering around and possibly being in close contact with others. We were all required to wear a mask, of course. I chose my rainbow tie-dye mask, because I was ecstatic that I was starting my vaccination process.

I parked in the parking lot and a gentleman pointed me to the right doors to go into. And yes, I saw several people there. I was checked in, and ushered to a vaccine station in one of the school’s gymnasiums. There were a lot of stations around the sides of the gym, and spaced out chairs in the middle.

The clerk at my station finished my registration, which took a few minutes. While she was registering me, she asked if I had any allergies or health conditions. “Only being overweight,” I said, smiling behind my mask. They smiled too; I could tell by their eyes.

After the registration, the nurse explained to me that the shot would be given in the muscle in my shoulder. Like the clerk, she asked me if I had any health conditions or allergies. I confirmed my negative response. And then she rubbed alcohol on my arm and I turned my head away, bracing for whatever pain that would come. I don’t like getting any kind of shot. There was a little prick, and then it was over. The nurse put a Bugs Bunny bandage over the place she gave me the shot. I was given two pages of information about the vaccine and told to sit in one of the open chairs in the middle for 15 minutes. They wanted to make sure people were OK after the shot.

While I sat, I glanced over my sheet about the Moderna shot and in particular, information about possible side effects — fatigue, headache, tenderness or swelling in my arm, muscle or joint pain, chills, fever, nausea.

But mostly, I talked. I saw five people I knew, including two who were also in the “observation” chairs. One sat next to me and we chatted about family and being glad when we’re able to be in close proximity with out mothers after we complete the vaccine.

That’s the one thing I’m really looking forward to, visiting my mother in St. Louis. She is due to get her first shot in early April, so the second one will be in May. I’m already planning to visit after she is fully vaccinated.

As I sat in my observation chair, I noticed that my arm was a little sore in the area around the shot. But that was normal, according to the others who had gotten the shot. That soreness lasted through Sunday.

My only other reaction was tiredness. On Saturday night, I fell asleep at 10:30 p.m. and slept solid for the next seven and a half hours. I don’t normally go to sleep that early. And when I woke up Sunday morning, my temples were throbbing some. I didn’t think it was a full-on headache, so I didn’t take any aspirin for it. Instead, I went back to sleep. I slept for another three hours. But when I woke up, I felt very alert and my temples no longer hurt. I did my day’s activities, including my only out-of-the-house activity of a socially distanced Bible study Sunday afternoon. But while I had a great day, by 7 p.m., I was wiped out. I again fell asleep early, in my bed this time.

By Monday morning, the pain in my arm around the shot area was mostly gone. But my alarm had to wake me up to watch an 8:30 a.m. meeting online; otherwise, I think I would have slept through that.

So my overall analysis is that I did have some reaction, but it was minor. Yes, I did sleep a lot. But I’m not complaining, because I enjoy sleep. The slight pain and tenderness in my arm was not that noticeable; I had to think about it to really notice.

Even if my side effects were more obvious, I still say it is worth it to me to get this vaccine. I have loved ones I would like to see and possibly hug and hang out with again. But I don’t want to do that if it means that I could possibly give them the virus.

So I will continue wearing the mask. I will continue to social distance when and where I need to. And I will wait anxiously for April 10, to receive my second vaccine dose.

For those that qualify to get the vaccine, sign up online at or by calling 211.

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