Christine Firman-Depeel, a Nurse Practitioner at the Cumberland Health Centre in Cumberland House, Saskatchewan, never questioned whether she would accept the COVID-19 vaccine when it became available, or that she might experience side effects from the vaccine.
“I don’t like referring to them as ‘side effects’,” says Christine, “I prefer ‘reassurance indicators’ that my body is doing what it’s supposed to do.”
Having discomfort after any immunization is not uncommon. After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine Christine experienced “fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue for 24 hours, but I viewed this as my body working hard to build a protective immunity with the help of the vaccine.” This effect may be more pronounced on the second dose, as it continues to build on the first dose. Christine knows that even after both doses she will still need to follow public health orders including masking, washing hands and physical distancing.
Christine Firman-Depeel, a Nurse Practitioner at the Cumberland Health Centre.
Healthcare workers and physicians have a legal obligation by the Public Health Act to report a reaction, depending on the severity. These Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) reports are tracked and used to continually monitor the safety of vaccines in Canada.
There are two types of reactions that can occur: (1) local, which would include injection site pain, redness or swelling; and (2) systemic, which can often be non-specific and include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, fever or possibly enlarged lymph nodes (swollen glands).
Within both categories there are three levels of severity: mild, moderate or major reactions. The two reportable levels include moderate reactions such as extremely high fever or severe local reactions, and major reactions such as Anaphylaxis or neurological events. The focus is on reactions which are unexpected given the circumstance. Health Canada reports that as few as 1 in every 1 million people will experience Anaphylaxis. The 15 minute wait time after receiving a dose is a precaution in the event that a serious response like this should occur, so that it can be treated immediately.
Christine experienced discomfort beyond a mild local reaction, but maintains that it was worth the alternative.
“This virus is not a hoax. I’ve witnessed the death and devastation it can cause. That’s why I welcomed the opportunity to receive the vaccine and allow my body the opportunity to protect me,” she stated.
She also looks forward to her final immunization, as her life has been “dedicated to keeping people healthy. I can thank science for getting me where I am today, and I will continue to trust science in guiding me professionally and personally. I choose to be part of the solution, so I welcome the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Serious side effects are rare. However, should you develop any serious symptoms or symptoms that could be an allergic reaction, call 9-1-1. Report any serious side effects to a physician, nurse practitioner or public health nurse for advice, and so they can also report the reaction.
Before you receive your second dose, inform the person administering the vaccine of any side effects you experienced after the first dose.
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