I’m three weeks out from receiving the last of the Pfizer vaccine, so permit me to share my experience. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please consider getting it. It’s the single thing that will allow us to have some light shining this summer. While it shouldn’t lull anyone into thinking vaccination means you’re ready for a crowded bar or restaurant sans mask and social distance, it will allow you to find the other inoculated souls and bubble with them—inside and outside. That means you are free to enjoy life with your like-minded friends and family and kiss total isolation goodbye.
For the rest of you not on board the vaccination train, please at least mask up and keep your distance.
I got my vaccines at a Baltimore Convention Center in a mass inoculation effort, and it was as organized and seamless as anyone could hope for. Once checked in with just a display of my license, I was given a flyer with information about the vaccine I’d receive, possible side effects, and what to do about them. I was pointed to a clearly designated line where we were all spaced six feet apart and the line moved quickly. Multiple stations helped everyone clear the final level of check-in and then we were directed to the last checkpoint facing many injection stations.
As each medical professional finished injecting people and cleaning their stations, they waved flags at the person directing us. Then we were pointed to an available spot where a healthcare professional verified information, asked me to pick an arm, explained what I’d be getting, and gave me the shot. The first one felt like the normal flu shot I get every year. Once done with that, the healthcare person noted the time the shot was administered and a time 15 minutes from that point.
Then we were directed to a socially distanced sitting area to wait out our 15 minutes (the time marker needed to gauge severe reactions). There was a triage crew ready for that event should it be needed. When my 15 minutes were up, we went through a speedy line to show a worker our time slip, state how we were feeling, and then we were free to go (with water and chips or cookies to boot).
I was a little tired that afternoon, had some soreness on my arm for a couple of hours the next day and then I was totally fine.
BUT… shot 2. J
The process of check-in and direction was the same as before—efficient, quick, and everyone was cheerful and helpful. But this second jab—whoa baby! It smarted, yes it did. But I’ve given birth—twice. So, I had to suck it up.
I had no immediate reaction within my 15-minute window, so after getting a bag of Baked Lays and water, I was off. This about 8:45 in the morning.
My lunchtime, my arm was killing me. The soreness radiated down to my fingers, but a dose of Tylenol and a short nap later, I felt better. However, that night I had the most fitful sleep, and my body was just aching. Tylenol helped again briefly, but for the rest of the day, I was sore, lethargic, and got a migraine (my go-to in headacheville). That night I switched to Advil, went to bed early, and as good as new in the morning.
Three days later, I got my period. FOUR DAYS EARLY. I was completely perplexed because that doesn’t happen to me. If I’m early, it’s by one day. Not four. This means my cycle got shortened to 21 days that month. I immediately wondered if the vaccine had just thrown my body for a loop and my cycle went wonky. Incidentally, I saw a video by a board-certified OB/GYN saying she’d been getting questions about this very phenomenon—getting the vaccine and then getting a period early or having more issues with it than normal. She felt confident that though evidence to that effect is anecdotal at this point, it is not outlandish to think that if the vaccine is causing a strong immune response in a female’s body, the menstrual cycle could be affected temporarily.
BUT LO And BEHOLD…
I got my period this month 8 days earlier than my period tracker (which never fails me) predicted. So, I’ve had two periods within two weeks now. That has never, ever happened to me in 33 years of being a monthly menstruating like clockwork female. I also see an integrated medicine specialist and told her what happened. She thinks that maybe the vaccine is the culprit, but that only a return to normalcy next month will help us see a pattern.
As a 45-year-old, I know perimenopausal symptoms are likely at the point, but not sure that this is related to that. So, I plan to call my OB/GYN this week and get this checked out.
In the meantime, I’ve been googling, and it appears there were are many women reporting period wonkiness after getting the vaccine—something not reported in any of the trials for Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson. But it’s important to remember data collection and analysis are ongoing.
I hope no woman on the fence about getting vaccinated is reading this and saying “hell no! I won’t go!” Period wonkiness is just an inconvenience, much as periods are in general. Of course, it sucks to have a period within two weeks, but it’s not a big deal.
I’m curious ladies. For any of you fully vaccinated, have you experienced anything strange with your periods?