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Emergency department physician Kimberly Tomlinson receives the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 in Athens, Georgia. Six Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center healthcare workers were among the first people in Athens to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach; taylormckenziephotography.com)

As the Georgia Department of Public Health continues to roll out COVID-19 vaccinations to different clinics, hospitals and pharmacies around Georgia, many residents are scheduling appointments to get vaccinated. I got vaccinated at a Publix pharmacy in Johns Creek, since I am a caretaker. This is my experience.

I entered the pharmacy, and one of the employees gave me a paper to fill out. On it, I had to answer questions about whether I have had COVID-19 symptoms or any history of vaccination allergies.

After filling out the paperwork, I waited my turn to get vaccinated. Within five minutes, I was called behind a stand-up curtain and was told to sit on the single chair they provided. The pharmacist came out and told me that she was injecting me with the Moderna vaccination and proceeded to administer the vaccination after my consent.

The pain for the vaccination injection was equivalent to an influenza shot — a little pinch, and then over before you know it. After getting vaccinated, they had me wait for about 15 minutes just as a precaution before driving home.

I then proceeded home with no symptoms for about three hours.

At hour three, I experience swelling at the site and a small blue bruise around the site of the puncture. However, there was no soreness at this point. This continued for about two hours.

Around hour five, I started experiencing slight fatigue and the swelling grew around the puncture site, but there was no soreness of any kind. However, within an hour, I started to experience slight soreness, and my eyes began to droop due to the fatigue. I knew at this point my body had identified the foreign body in my system and was beginning to prepare to fight it. This was a good sign overall in improving immunity. This was just the start.

Around hour seven, my arm was more swollen, and the bruise around the puncture site grew. I was experiencing high fatigue and arm soreness but convinced myself to keep working on getting through the day until it was time to sleep. I avoided any ibuprofen or acetaminophen because I did not want to suppress the effects my body was having to create immunity towards the foreign mRNA injected into my muscle.

These symptoms ended up heightening for the next three hours, and then I started to develop a headache and slight fever of 101.3. My arm was very sore, and I ended up sleeping on the other side of my body due to this pain.

When I woke up the next day, I felt a lot better for the first few hours of the morning. Besides having a sore arm, my fever, headache and fatigue were gone. However, by noon, the fatigue started to come back, and my arm felt more sore. I was not able to lift my arm without pain.

Soon, my headache and fever came back along with my fatigue and headache getting worse. Although this was a bit of a tough experience, I knew it was a good sign as my body was fighting the foreign body successfully.

About three hours after noon, I decided to take a nap to give my body rest. At that point I was not able to focus on any work due to feeling exhausted.

I woke up about an hour later with slight on-and-off fevers and chills alternating. My arm swelling had decreased drastically along with my headache.

Within an hour, all my symptoms had mostly disappeared, leaving me with only slight arm soreness.

By evening time my arm soreness was gone and I felt “normal” again. At that point I knew that my body was able to identify and create antibodies successfully towards the vaccination.

Although the vaccination symptom experience wasn’t free of incident, it was necessary to give my body rest for it to improve my immune system. At the end of the day, I encourage everyone and anyone who has the ability to get the vaccination to get it. In the times I felt any pain, fever or fatigue, the reminder of having gotten the vaccination always made me feel grateful and better.