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!