Vaccinations are still important—even after the J&J news

Editor’s Column

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

This week is the first time in almost a year and a half that I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel that has been this pandemic.

The reason for that being, myself and our Managing Editor were lucky enough to receive our COVID-19 vaccinations. Of course I am still waiting the two week period before I am considered fully vaccinated, and will continue to wear masks and distance even when I am, it was honestly a breath of fresh air.

When I went late last week for my vaccine, I knew I wanted to share my vaccination story, whether it was as normal or abnormal as possible, I wanted to share my story to either encourage people to get vaccinated or give others a peace of mind that their vaccination wasn’t one in a sea of none.

A photo of Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief, posing for an obligatory selfie following her Johnson & Johnson vaccination at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Photo via Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

I was given the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine at Alliant Energy Center in Madison, and on Tuesday morning, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced their recommendation to halt the use of that vaccine because of reports of blood clots days or weeks following vaccination. The CDC has said that six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed a rare blood clotting disorder one to three weeks after receiving the J&J vaccine.

I woke up to about multiple text messages from family members Tuesday morning in panic mode that I’d received this vaccine and was now possibly at risk for this life threatening side effect.

I did have a few lingering side effects from the vaccine. My arm was pretty sore immediately following the vaccine, and that has continued for just under a week, I now have a small, raised bruise at the injection site. The first evening after my vaccine I felt pretty okay, only a little fatigued.

The second day post vaccination I was tired, nauseous and had very little appetite, which then turned into a slight fever and chills later that night just before bed. Luckily I was able to head to sleep and break the low grade fever overnight. Since then, I’ve definitely noticed that I’m more fatigued, but following the fever, nothing has been unbearable. After Tuesday’s news, I feel lucky that this is all that I’ve experienced so far. I’m also guessing these side effects are nothing compared to the struggle COVID-19 and its effects are.

However, that time period where doctors have discovered these blood clots hasn’t passed for me, and I’ll admit I am a bit scared. My fears aside, I’m incredibly happy that federal, state and even local agencies have made the choice to do their due diligence and pause administering this specific vaccine (and grateful there are two other options to continue vaccination efforts) and that they’ve made people aware of the symptoms so they can self-monitor before the number of people threatened goes beyond six in a few million.

I’m incredibly happy they are focusing on raising awareness of the serious side effects, because for me personally, if I experienced some of them, I may have ignored them or not seen them for what they are. I’m someone who struggles with migraines, so an excruciating headache that is accompanied by body pains is nothing out of the ordinary for me, and not something I tend to seek medical attention for, as they happen often.

However, now I will likely monitor any migraines or pains in specific places a bit more for the next few weeks, and be sure to seek medical attention if I feel off.

Again, the thought of having these terrible side effects is scary, but I know that I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I would still get vaccinated and I implore everyone else to as well. While I feel for these six women who have experienced these effects, many agencies are no longer administering that specific vaccine while the cause is reviewed and we still have viable vaccination options.

The light that I see at the end of the tunnel is only there because of these vaccinations, and we need everyone possible vaccinated to safely return to the normal we all want so badly. We’re in a very precarious position right now, where if our vaccination numbers go up, herd immunity could be possible and this pandemic could be controlled—We’ll all get to enjoy our freedom, see our loved ones and live our lives again. On the other hand, if not everyone does their part to get vaccinated, or ignores masking and distancing guidelines, we could end up back at square one, in quarantine, with virus spikes, but this time those spikes will be due to even more contagious and deadly variants.

I know the news about this vaccine is scary, but please don’t let it stop you from getting a vaccination, it’s so, so important. To the people who say their chances of catching COVID are slim, or they don’t believe they’ll get the virus or any of the regular anti-COVID or anti-vax rhetoric, I say this: You’re never quite sure when you’ll get into a car accident or when you’ll break your arm and need medical attention, but you still carry car and medical insurance just in case those things happen. You’re terrified to be without insurance because of the monetary expense those unexpected things could incur. Well, COVID-19 is a car accident or a broken arm and you’re never sure when or if it will happen, and the vaccine is your insurance—it’s your “just in case”.