My Astra Zeneca experience

There’re some benefit to being middle-aged (besides not having to carry photo-ID when buying age-restricted products) and one of those benefits include me having had my first COVID vaccination on Sunday. Yes, this post is all about my vaccine experience – not because I’m in any way important (I absolutely am not) but rather in the hope that it may be of benefit to the millions of people who still have to be vaccinated.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of needles, but equally, I’m not scared of them, and the actual vaccination event was over and done with un under a minute – a quick swab, slight pressure on my arm, and job done. It was rather underwhelming, given the importance of the act.

Before I continue, I need to clarify a few things:
1) We’re all entitled to our own opinions. My opinion is that I trust the scientists, and therefore was relieved to have been vaccinated. If your opinion is that of an antivaxxer, based on tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theories and the kind of thinking that makes David Icke seem sane and reasonable, then you’re welcome to your opinion. What I won’t allow is for you to try and ram such opinions down my throat, and no, there’s no room for flexibility here.
2) I’m not a scientist. If I needed a roof built on a house, I’d go by what a professional roofer says. When it comes to vaccines, I go by what the scientists say. You need to form your own opinion, but clearly, I’ve formed mine.
3) There are two vaccines available in the UK – the Pfizer vaccine, and the Astra Zeneca vaccine. I was happy to be given either, despite being aware there was a higher likelihood of feeling rough afterwards, if being vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca one.

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As it happens, I received the Astra Zeneca vaccine, and I remain grateful at the chance to be vaccinated. Having read up a fair bit about the vaccines, I factored in that I may feel rough for two days. After having been vaccinated at 14h00, last Sunday, I felt absolutely fine for several hours.

Around 21h00, I was feeling rather chilly, and accepted that my body had a raised temperature, as an expected result of the vaccine. I took some Paracetemol and went to sleep. Here’s the thing – I’m good at sleeping: I lie down, switch off, and minutes later I’m asleep. Insomnia is not something I’m familiar with, so it was with some surprise that I found myself waking at 01h30, feeling like I’m overheating (but otherwise perfectly fine). The only thing was that I simply couldn’t go back to sleep, and I was awake till after 04h00.

I’d taken some leave this week, partly because of getting vaccinated, so at least didn’t have to worry about work. I very rarely sleep in (waking at 08h00 to me amounts to a very late morning) but slept though till 10h00. The rest of Monday I was mostly OK, though my head felt a bit cotton-woolly, and I was fatigued.

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Monday night I had quite an early night, and must’ve been asleep by 21h00, after having had a nap in the afternoon, too. I also almost invariably not only don’t remember dreams, but very rarely even realise that I had been dreaming, but Monday night was different, and I kept waking from very vivid dreams.

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Tuesday was different. Very different! Tuesday, I simply felt drained. My body ached all over, and even my ribs hurt. As a result, I went back to bed, and slept most of Tuesday away. When I awoke on late Tuesday afternoon, everything had changed again, and I felt human again.

No more aches and pains (except for my hip, of all places!), no more woolly head, no more fatigue (though I felt tired, as if I’d done a lot of physical work) and I could concentrate again.

My hip was the odd thing: a bad cycling crash in 2014 ended up with me having injured my hip, and I couldn’t walk properly for weeks afterwards – cycling was fine, though. It hadn’t given me any trouble for quite a number of years, but was acting up quite a bit by Tuesday. Today, just a day later, though not fully back to normal, it’s far better than it was yesterday, and I’ve absolutely no idea if this even was in any way related to the vaccine.

If you’ve received your booking to be vaccinated, my advice is simple: be prepared to write two days off afterwards. Oh, and this is important: remember that, however annoying the effects of the vaccine may be, it remains infinitely better than getting COVID.

Please note: These were my experiences. I have been told of at least four other people who also woke, around 12(ish) hours after having been vaccinated, feeling like they were very hot and being unable to go back to sleep, but these are hardly significant numbers, compared to how many people have had the AZ vaccine. Your experience may well be entirely different, and I genuinely hope you as little to no symptoms.

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I’ve since had my second vaccine dose, in the middle of June 21. Given how I felt after the first dose, I was somewhat apprehensive, but I had no side-effects whatsoever the second time round.

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