I have significant anxiety about getting a Covid-19 vaccine. I am not an anti-vaxxer, but I have had a bad reaction to a vaccine in the past. I don’t want to repeat that experience, or something worse.
My Vaccine Side Effects
For several years I have routinely received the flu vaccine. Other than a little soreness and sluggish feeling – typical side effects – I have never had a bad reaction to the flu vaccine. In 2018 I had shingles. Shingles is a flare up of the varicella zoster virus left over in the system from when I had the chicken pox as a little kid. But shingles is nasty with a rash that evolves into hyper sensitivity and pain, generally around the mid-section of your body. This pain, set off by nothing more than the touch of a t-shirt on your skin, makes you jump through the roof.
In 2019 I decided to get the shingles vaccine. I figured that since I had never had a reaction to the flu vaccine, nothing would happen other than a hoped for suppression of another bout with shingles. Two weeks after the first vaccine injection I had a raging sinus headache for days. My doctor said it was allergies and prescribed Flonase. Then my shoulders started to get weak. Within a couple days my whole body was itching, head to toe.
The itching, with no rash, went away after 3 days. But wait, there’s more! My shoulders, or specifically the muscles that lift my arms went numb, paralysis, no movement. I could not lift my arms above my chest. I had to use my right hand to lift my left hand and place it on the keyboard in order to type.
What I subsequently leaned was that some vaccines, notably the flu vaccine, can cause Guillain-Barre’ syndrome; a rapid-onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the peripheral nervous system. I am not declaring that I had this specific syndrome that causes muscle weakness triggered by the shingles vaccine. The shingles vaccine is different from the flu vaccine. The shingle vaccines, similar to the new Covid-19 vaccines, are engineered with RNA to push your immune system to make antibodies to fight the virus.
Another concern is the hiker’s rash I have experienced for many years. After hiking for several hours, I will develop a rash between my knee an ankle. In my case, through lots of research, I have settled on the explanation that the short-lived rash is the result of an autoimmune response. In short, the body is producing too much histamine which allows tiny blood vessels to burst, causing the rash. I have not died from it yet and the rash goes away after three days, so I’m not too worried.
Will Covid-19 Trigger A Negative Autoimmune Reaction?
However, the combination of the hiker’s rash and reaction to the shingles vaccine, both of which involve some sort of negative autoimmune response, have me nervous about the Covid-19 vaccine. How will my goofy body react to this engineered miracle of modern medicine to fight the corona virus? Will my body go into over-drive and produce some sort of response to the invader vaccine?
Folks, just so you know, I don’t really care about getting sick, injured, or dying. I’m done with doctors. I just don’t want to languish in some hospital bed sick from either the prevention or the virus. Consequently, I’ve decided I will probably get the Covid-19 vaccine when it is available in my area and for my age group. I will do more research on the side effects, and hopefully be able to select one of the vaccine variants that may have the fewest reported negative reactions. I can handle another bout of shingles. Hiker’s rash incites no fear in me. But the corona virus, with my luck, would put me in the hospital on a ventilator.
I cannot question or judge why some people have decided not to get the Covid-19 vaccine or are wary of receiving the jab. I don’t know their medical history and past reactions to vaccines. Few people know that for several months I could not lift my arms above my chest. I was seriously scared of permanent paralysis. Fortunately, my body healed, for the most part.
My only request is that people, like me, with high anxiety about the Covid-19 vaccine do as much research and education as possible. They will either come to a place where the benefits of the vaccine protection outweigh the potential costs of a negative reaction, like I have, or they will step away from getting vaccinated. For me, I think I’ll get vaccinated close to a hospital, that’s my game plan.