I’m posting about my COVID-19 vaccination experience because I wanted to help demystify it as well as help people understand why it’s important to get vaccinated when it become available to you. It’s still your choice whether or not to take the shot, but for me the benefits outweigh the risks. For me, I feel like a weight has been partially lifted off my shoulders.
Vaccine Priority List
Here in the Philippines due to limited vaccine supply, we’re vaccinating people based on a priority list. We started with healthcare workers and medical professionals, and vulnerable populations like seniors and those with comorbidities. I know I don’t talk about it, but I do have a condition that qualifies as a COVID-19 comorbidity: asthma.
I’ve had asthma since I was a child, and I took up exercise and sports as a way to strengthen my lungs. So you can say that thanks to being active (and a little pharmaceutical help) I’ve been able to control my asthma. However, having asthma increases risk for developing severe COVID-19 disease, which is why people with asthma are that high up on the priority list alongside people with hypertension, diabetes, and even obesity.
Check out my vlog below on how vaccination day went, or scroll down for a quick Cliff’s Notes.
My sister and I both have asthma, so when the city we currently reside in opened sign-ups in March for people with comorbidities, we figured it was worth giving it a try. Thanks to a recent influx of 2 million donated doses from the international COVAX facility, the city probably increased the number of vaccine shots it was scheduled to give and I think that’s why my sister and I were called so early.
On vaccination day we each brought a government-issued ID (I used my passport), our PasigPass QR code, and a prescription for my asthma medicine. While some other friends had told us their vaccination had only taken an hour from start to finish, we were there for about three hours just queuing, filling out a health questionnaire and signing the consent form, getting vital signs taken (blood pressure, temperature, blood oxygen saturation), then waiting for our turn to get the shot. After the vaccination we had to stay an extra 30 minutes in a monitoring area to make sure we didn’t have any immediate allergic reactions to it.
I think maybe on our day more than the usual estimated number showed up, temporarily overwhelming the facility’s capacity to process each vaccinee. But I was willing to wait, because getting my first dose would mean 1. I would have better protection against getting infected and developing severe illness, 2. be able to travel internationally soon, and 3. protect my community better by breaking the chain of transmission and contribute to herd immunity.
The thing with viral vector vaccines like Astra Zeneca is they do come with mild side effects like body pain, fever, headache, and the like as the vaccine stimulates an immune response. (The flu vaccine can also induce similar side effects.) I woke up the next day with all of the above, but some paracetamol, water, and resting a lot helped me get through these symptoms. Also, I figure it’s still better than getting COVID-19 and rolling the dice on that 2% mortality risk, not to mention the unknown long-term effects.
Anyway, it’s now been five days post-vaccination, and I’ve slowly eased back into exercise. I want to make sure my immune system bounces back properly so it builds those lifesaving antibodies I need. I should get my second dose between 4 to 12 weeks after the first dose, so probably by July I’ll be fully vaccinated.
If you are able to get a vaccination appointment with your LGU, do it! They literally have more doses than they know what to do with. Don’t let it go to waste; protect yourselves and your family and help the Philippines on its way toward earning herd immunity.