Last Tuesday Mar. 24, I went to the Lions Club here in Port aux Basques, to join other first responders in the lineup for the first shot of COVID Vaccine. While it’s my intention to tell you how it went, to be honest, there’s not a lot to tell.
Like you, I’ve heard all about the European countries that have banned or suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and it made me more than a little worried to know that all first responders in the province would get this exact vaccine. But the fact of the matter is, there is absolutely no evidence that the shot I got last week (also called COVIDShield) causes any serious medical issues.
COVIDShield is the brand name in Canada for the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot. It is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and is biologically identical to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Millions of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and out of all those millions of people, there have been 37 cases of complications due to a Thrombosis (blood clot).
Most have been linked to previous medical conditions, or a genetic predisposition to susceptibility. It’s considered an extreme autoimmune response to the vaccine, and is treatable. Of those 37 cases, only 11 people worldwide have had an issue directly linked to the vaccine, and the reasons why are still not exactly clear. So just based on the mathematical probability of complications, there is no reason to worry about getting a COVID vaccine.
When I signed up to get my shot right away, I was warned by my family about the risks of clots, strokes, sickness etc. But to be exposed to a virus that can kill me, and my loved ones and my neighbours seemed to be more of a risk. Especially after I did some fact checking and learned after only 10 minutes of reading about the risks of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The experience itself was so smooth I barely had time to finish my coffee before I was back in my car.
The capable and welcoming medical staff asked me the standard questions we have all come to know and love, about exposure, symptoms and so on. That was really the only part of the morning that was familiar. Heading into the little makeshift booth, I was seated, asked a few questions about allergies, and then the nurse pulled out a needle so large it looked like it was probably designed to tranquilize an elephant.
Picking the right arm, she jabbed me with it, and surprisingly enough given the size, the needle didn’t hurt at all. I’ve had tetanus shots that hurt more. It was over remarkably quick.
And then the nurse said, “Let me tell you about the side effects”
After I had the shot.
I admit, I teased and picked on her a little bit for giving me the list of side effects after I was vaccinated, but in all reality, the side effects of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot are pretty much the same as you might get after a standard flu shot. Sore arm, decreased appetite, sleepiness – all standard stuff.
So I let the nurse off with a good-natured warning about telling me too little too late, and I was ushered to a waiting area to sit down for 15 minutes. The reason you have to wait is just in case you have any allergic or adverse reaction to the medication.
I didn’t have any issues with reactions, other than a slightly sore throat later that same night. Having spoken with a couple of others who received the vaccine, it seems a couple had experienced some more unpleasant but temporary side effects such as sweats, headache, and lethargy.
That seems like a very, very small price to pay to make sure that everyone I know or may come into contact with either through work or socially are safe.
Please get vaccinated as soon as you can, so that everyone can go back to one big bubble, so we can chat face to face and shake hands once again.
I hope to see you again, in person, real soon.
René J. Roy is seasoned book editor, trained portrait photographer, volunteer firefighter, board member and diehard Montreal Canadiens fan. You can find on twitter as @hfxhabby or send an email to: email@example.com.