Unfortunately, we are living in a time when you are forced to get a vaccine in order to live your normal, productive life. In many cases, you need a vaccine to attend school, to go to work, to travel, to enter a restaurant or store, and even to attend some entertainment venues. While I can appreciate that there are somewhat effective vaccines available for COVID-19, I cannot appreciate that it is being forced onto people when most of them have not even obtained FDA approval. Only recently did Pfizer’s vaccine get FDA approval, but even that seems to be surrounded by controversy.

My husband’s employer is like so many and has mandated that its employees get fully vaccinated. He is frustrated, unhappy, and a little resentful that he is forced to get an injection that he doesn’t want just to go to work. It doesn’t seem fair and certainly doesn’t follow the science. He and I are both educated people and can make informed decisions for ourselves and have done so throughout our lives. So, why not with this?

Knowing that my husband had to get the vaccine and was unhappy about it, I decided to do it with him in an attempt to make him feel better about having to get it. Time constraints with his job made it obvious that we needed to take the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, it proved more difficult to find than I thought it would. It took an entire morning of calling around to Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Crystal Run Health Care, Middletown Medical, Garnet Health, and Rite-Aid to finally find the J & J vaccine out of state! I even used a vaccine finder website to search for our vaccine but could only find Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. What the hell? Why is it so difficult to get Johnson & Johnson and not the other two? If vaccines are being required, then it should be easier to get whichever one you choose!

I finally tracked down two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Wayne Memorial Hospital in Hamlin, Pennsylvania; it was at least an hour away! When we get there, we find a clean facility and friendly staff with very little wait time. The nurse who gave us the vaccine was pleasant and told us about possible ‘minor’ side effects within the following 24 hours, including nausea and soreness at the injection site. However, we had heard different stories from friends that got the same vaccine. By that evening, I knew the side effects were not minor.

About seven or eight hours after getting the vaccine, the lymph nodes under my arm were sore and swollen. I felt extremely exhausted, a little nauseous, and felt a low-grade fever coming. Some of my joints began to ache for no reason as well. I decided to just go to bed early and hopefully sleep it off. Wishful thinking. A few hours later, my throbbing arm and aching head woke me up. The fingers in my hand were numb, my back and knees were sore, and my fever and chills were getting worse. The pain under my swollen arm was much worse. I actually got up to check in the mirror to see if it was shingles; it was not, thankfully.

After a long and sleepless night, I started to feel better by dawn. As I got up to get my son ready for his first day of school, it was clear that it was my husband’s turn to feel ill from the vaccine. Headache, nausea, fever, and soreness. He did not have the luxury of staying in bed, though; he had to go into work. The same job that required him to get this vaccine was now going to have to deal with him not feeling well in person. By time he got home that evening, I was feeling much better and he was on the mend. A good night’s sleep was what we all needed.

After a couple of days, we were both feeling much better. Now, a week later, the soreness under my arm is much less but persists, as well as my exhaustion. I truly hope this is not a permanent condition. What is a permanent condition is the feeling of caving, the feeling that we compromised our beliefs, and the distrust we now have in governmental institutions.

Our experience with the vaccine is not unique at all. The side effects are well within the average experience. My husband’s employer, like so many, now requires that its employees get the jab, especially now that Tyrant Biden is making those with more than 100 employees mandate it. While it is a luxury for some to be able to leave their jobs in order to avoid the vaccine and take a stand, many cannot for a variety of reasons. It is an unfortunate trap that our country has allowed its citizens to be caught up in. While many vaccines for long-ago diseases that no one has immunity to, like smallpox, polio, and rubella, should be required, there should be a choice to get vaccines for newer viruses that antibodies are more effective. If we’re going to fly the follow-the-science flag, then let’s follow actual science, not the political science.

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