Opinion

Opinion: My experience with the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Photo by Paige Wirta

On April 1, residential students at Boise State received an email from the Vaccination Clinic that a special vaccination opportunity would be available on Saturday, April 3. I had been trying for the week prior to get on the Boise State vaccine waste list, where any extra doses of the vaccine can go to those who sign up for the list. I was immensely excited and relieved when I received this email and signed up for an appointment immediately. 

Since I have seen a lot of misinformation, confusion and apprehension surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, I am sharing my experience with receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, including describing the process of getting vaccinated on campus and the side effects that followed. 

Experience

Setting up and making my appointment was relatively painless. Since I signed up so soon after getting the email announcing the opportunity, I had free range to choose my appointment time. 

I set my appointment for 12:06 p.m. and received an email on Friday with instructions on when to arrive, where to park and other descriptions. I was told to arrive at least five minutes early, and with that in mind I ended up walking into the ExtraMile Arena 10 minutes before my scheduled appointment time.

I was surprised by the amount of people who were on site, directing traffic and answering any questions or concerns I had. Each individual seemed knowledgeable about the vaccines and led me through the arena until it was my turn to be vaccinated. Even though I arrived earlier than necessary, I was not required to wait long at all and sat down to get my shot around five minutes early. 

[Inside the vaccination clinic in ExtraMile Arena.]
Photo by Paige Wirta | The Arbiter

The actual shot was very similar to that of a typical flu shot, though I would say that I could feel the injection more. After receiving the vaccination, I was directed to sit in the waiting area for about 15 minutes, and raise my hand should I begin to feel especially sick. Thankfully, I felt fine. The injection site was not really that sore, and I left 15 minutes later, as suggested. 

Side Effects

I have never had a strong reaction to a flu shot, so I was hopeful that my side effects after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccination would be minimal. Besides some soreness at the injection site in my left arm, I did not have any other symptoms until around six hours after my vaccination when I got incredibly tired. It was strange to feel ready to fall asleep at 6 p.m., but I ended up staying awake pretty late. 

Sadly, the night after receiving my shot was pretty miserable, and I was unable to fall asleep until well past 2 a.m. By the time I got in bed, I began experiencing chills, a sure sign I had a fever though I did not check my temperature. I felt exhausted and restless at the same time. 

By the next morning, my fever had gone down significantly and my only remaining side effects for the following few days were a dull headache and a sore arm. 

On April 12, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for a pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccines after six reports of rare blood clots in the days following receiving their vaccination. Because this type of blood clot requires “different” treatment from that usually administered, both the FDA and CDC recommended “a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.” 

Initially when I saw this, I was a little worried. Could my side effects actually be attributed to a blood clot? But reading on, the FDA shares that out of seven million Johnson and Johnson vaccines administered, only six women developed this rare blood clot. The FDA continued to reiterate that these blood clots were incredibly rare, and now that the symptoms of these clots were listed, people who had received the vaccine could be on the lookout.

Two weeks following my vaccination, when the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is supposed to have fully vaccinated an individual, I feel fine. Knowing that I can now make some summer plans and interact with family members, continuing to follow mask and social distancing guidelines, is incredibly relieving. I hope that by reading my experience with the vaccine, others may use it to aid in their decision making on getting vaccinated.

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