First shot: done

Friday morning I received my first shot of COVID-19 vaccine, just a few days after I discovered that I was going to get it here in Thailand at all. Let me start by saying how grateful I am that I’ve received the vaccine at all. And let me share a bit of the story:

This being Thailand, the vaccine implementation has been chaotic and unclear, with contradictory messages coming from different persons in the government on a near-daily basis. At one point, vaccines for foreigners wasn’t being considered at all. Then they would be able to get vaccines in a few months, as soon as the Thai registration app was adjusted to work for people who didn’t have a national identification number. Then the government said they would allow private company to buy vaccines. And then they said they wouldn’t. And so on, and so on…

Then, on Monday, I received an email from my company stating they had arranged for all Bangkok-based employees to receive a vaccine. Foreign workers were directed to register at a link on the MedPark Hospital website. On Tuesday, I was informed my vaccine would be available on Friday between mid-morning and early afternoon. We were informed the Sinovac (a Chinese-made vaccine with widely varying reported efficacy) was the only option, which while not ideal, is better than nothing.

When I arrived at the hospital and registered, they asked whether I wanted Astra Zeneca or Sinovac, as they had both available. I chose AZ as the data from AZ appear to more consistently show higher efficacy than Sinovac. And thirty minutes later, I had my first dose in my arm and was on my way.

Side effects: similar to Tawn, who received his first dose earlier that week, I experienced soreness in my upper arm at the injection site (no surprise). By dinner time, I was feeling a general achiness, like the onset of a flu. And by bedtime, I had the chills, which Tawn had also experienced.

Over the night, I experienced the worst headache I have ever had. I think I know perhaps what a migraine headache feels like. I kept waking up and massaging various pressure points, trying to relieve the tension. Finally, near dawn and exhausted from a restless night, I stopped trying to power my way through the symptoms and just took two tablets of paracetamol.

Within thirty minutes, the symptoms largely subsided and I slept for another three hours. The rest of the day was a bit fuzzy, but by dinner time about 32 hours after the shot, I was feeling pretty much back to my normal self.

Second shots here are scheduled for 16 weeks after the first shot, not until early October. Since I will be back in the US in a few weeks, I plan to go ahead and take the J&J single-shot vaccine so I can get full covered more immediately. A search online hasn’t turned up any concerns that should dissuade me from combining two vaccines, but if you know anything you would like to share, please let me know.

If you haven’t received a vaccine yet, I hope you will do so as soon as you possibly can. The best chance we have for getting this pandemic under control is widespread vaccination and good hygiene practices. Stay safe!

22 thoughts on “First shot: done

  1. My son had the J&J vaccine and had zero reactions outside of a little soreness in his arm. We both had the Moderna and the first was easy but the second dose really beat us up. Headache, chills, fever, it was brutal but I’d do it all over again just to have a little peace of mind!! Here I’ve not heard of anyone doing 2 different types of the vaccine… So glad you were able to get the vaccine (here we only had to wait 4 weeks between the shots).

  2. In Canada, we are allowing the mixing of AZ and Moderna / Pfizer. We still haven’t approved J&J yet. I had the AZ vaccine and my reaction was same as yours. But my second shot earlier this week had very little side effects aside from feeling a bit tired. Keep staying safe… I worry about these new variants.

  3. Congrats on getting vaccinated and I’m sorry you had those side effects. Glad to hear you’re better now, though. I don’t know of anyone here who’s had a mixture of shots as I don’t think it’s allowed here so I can’t offer any advice there, unfortunately. I hope you get more information about it from a doctor before you mix them though – just take care. I hear having the second shot of AZ will be better than the first. I’ve actually had the first shot of Pfizer and had zero reactions, but I hear the second shot is worse.

  4. There are some early studies suggesting getting the Pfizer-Biontech as the 2nd jab would boost the overall efficacy of AZ. Not sure how easy to get, and documentation is a whole different animal altogether.

  5. Glad you had your shot, sorry to hear about the side effects.
    In Germany AZ was recommended only for people above 60 a few weeks after launch. Anybody below 60 who received AZ prior to the guidance has the choice between AZ, BionTech Pfizer or Moderns. The medical commission overseeing this issued no concerns about the mixing of vaccine and expects a higher degree of efficacy than not getting a second shot.
    You should have your choice of vaccine in the US by the time you get there…
    Good luck and safe travels…

  6. Glad to hear you got your first dose too! It’s interesting how getting a specific vaccine is dependant on what is available and what the option is. I heard many people who have choice of Pfizer vs. AZ want Pfizer but then those who have choice of AZ vs. SinoVac want AZ. I guess any is better than none. Like some of the other comments, there seems to be a lot of research going on about mixing. Hope you can seek some trusted medical advice before you decide. Stay safe!

    • Completely agree that the shot in your arm is the best one. And if I had taken SinoVac, I would have received my second shot possibly even before heading to the US. My biggest consideratiopn was that SinoVac is not recognized as widely and I don’t want to not be able to travel somewhere because the local government doesn’t recognize the vaccine.

  7. I have done a lot of research on this Chris. I had my first vaccine in January, and i had no problem with it. Four days later however, I had full blown Covid. Was down with it for several days, then M got the Covid, also after his first vaccine. Both of us, because of our age and the immunosuppressed state i am in, received the BAM Infusion. We haven’t got the second dose of vaccine, because we got tested for mRNA antibodies and we had tons of them. So I told M that we shouldn’t take the second dose. And we are doing very well, and the IDPH is totally okay with it.
    Chris if you want, when you come here, ask the physician to do an antibody titre, to see how much you have. If it is >than 150, then you can probably wait and get a booster later. Just a suggestion. But it wouldn’t hurt you to get the J&J. That’s what Dave my son in law took.
    Much love to you.

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