The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has gotten a lot of press over the past few weeks. Lots of people have been wondering whether this single-dose vaccination is as safe and effective as the other two on the market from Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna. This article isn’t meant to weigh the pros and cons of this vaccine – a search on Google will give you way more information than you need on the subject. I’m here to tell you about my experience hearing about, signing up for, and receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine.
First Impression: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine
I first heard about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on NPR during the clinical trials a few months ago. There was a lot of debate about it, but also a considerable amount of optimistic chatter that this would be a game-changer due to the fact that it is a single dose and doesn’t need to be stored at super-cold temperatures.
I had no idea when I, as a teacher, would qualify for a vaccine, but I always agreed with the experts that you should take whatever vaccine is available as soon as possible. Don’t bother trying to “shop around” for a given shot – they’re all safe and effective.
Teachers Become Eligible
On March 2nd, 2021, President Biden announced a push to make teachers eligible to receive vaccines nationwide. He directed pharmacies receiving federal funds to immediately give teachers the ability to join the queue. Of course, he couldn’t force them to do so, but in Rhode Island, where I live, CVS was the first pharmacy to begin allowing teachers to make appointments.
In a faculty meeting at school, I was told that appointments open up at 6 AM and that we should try to log on if we can. The next morning, on March 5th, I went to check availability on the CVS website. I clicked on my state of Rhode Island, entered some basic information, and was put sent to a “Waiting Room” page.
When you do this yourself, DO NOT REFRESH THE PAGE! You’ve probably heard about people waiting for hours online and constantly refreshing. With CVS, this will kick you to the back of the line every time you refresh. Simply wait with the page open and eventually you’ll be let in. For me, it only took about 10-15 minutes. All I had to do was enter my insurance info, the name of my school, and select an appointment. It was easy! I’m pretty sure you don’t need insurance, but it asks you to enter it if you do.
Quick bonus note: it helps to make a CVS Pharmacy account online first, because a lot of your info will be carried over. You can also link this to your CVS Extra Care card.
I found it a bit odd that I didn’t need ot provide any proof of employment at a school. I have no idea if they contact the school and ask either. In fact, I also didn’t need to present ID or an insurance card when getting the shot. Perhaps it’s the honor system?
I think at some point in the process I had the ability to search for an appointment by vaccine type, but I just quickly chose whichever was the soonest. It happened to be the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which I was excited about because of the single dose!
Finding the Vaccine Site
When I pictures getting my vaccine, for some reason I thought it would be in a pop-up tent outside, similar to the testing sites. All they gave me was an address to the Warwick Mall, which is a pretty big place. After driving around the mall several times looking for such a site, I finally looked at my appointment e-mail one more time and found out that it was at the CVS inside the mall.
Inside the mall, we asked around and finally found out that, not only is the CVS inside the mall, it’s inside a Target inside the mall. When we finally found it and I pressed the check-in link on my phone, only then did it tell me that the CVS was located inside Target. It would have been nice to have had this info beforehand…
Getting the Shot
When it comes to shots, I am one of the worst patients you can imagine. I almost always have an anxiety attack right after getting a flu shot. Even when I know it’s coming, I still freak out and feel like I’m going to pass out. I am 100% positive that this is from anxiety, not from anything in the shots, so don’t let my experience discourage you!
I was directed to sit down behind a little screen and a very friendly doctor administered my shot. Although I felt pretty ok, but as predicted, I quickly lost all color in my face, my heart rate slowed to about 40 BPM, and my vision got blurry. I’d known this was going to happen and I knew it wasn’t a response to the actual vaccine, but it was still quite unpleasant. A few minutes later, however, I was ok. They gave me a bottle of water and even an energy bar, and I was good as new after 15 minutes or so.
Definitely wait the recommended 15 minutes after you get your shot. If you’re not squeamish about needles like me, you’ll be totally fine. I drove home, watched TV with Olena, and went to bed early.
Side Effects the Next Day
It seems like everyone I’d spoken to about side effects of their vaccine had a different story. Some had absolutely zero symptoms, some just a little soreness, and some a full-blown fever along with other cold symptoms. I was somewhere in between. Although I had a bad headache, I had no fever, and was basically sore all over. I got out of breath easily and couldn’t do much physical labor. Then I drank lots of water, tried to relax, went to bed early, and was as good as new the next day.
Now, six days later, I can still feed a bit of tenderness at the site of the injection, but I’ve had no other symptoms. It was only the day following the shot that I basically felt like I had a bad hangover. Whatever symptoms you may have, its important to remember that they are a good sign. It’s your immune system going into overdrive and fighting off what it thinks is a bad virus. Then, if you ever are exposed to COVID, your body knows what to do.
Summary – Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine
Whatever your age or profession, I recommend that you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you become eligible. Also, don’t worry about which vaccine you get. They’ve all been determined safe and effective after rigorous clinical trials. Any risk of getting a vaccine far outweighs the risk of getting the virus and transmitting it to your loved ones.
Right now, in Rhode Island, anyone over 65 plus teachers and healthcare workers are eligibles for vaccines. In the next few months, you are likely to be eligible too! Just sign up for whatever slot you can, make sure you have the next day off if you are able to, and join the ranks of people who are vaccinated against COVID-19!
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