What to Expect From Pfizer

By Joel Armstrong (he/they)


Disclaimer: This is my personal experience of receiving the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination. Your experience, including possible side effects, may vary.


As the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out across New Zealand, more and more people are eagerly anticipating finally getting vaccinated. A fair few people however, have been laying it on thick with the fake news and now some people are quite skeptical about getting the jab, but I’m here to tell you... I’m still alive! I have been one of the lucky few people to have already received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as I work part-time at a hospital. I’m here to ease your worries and tell you everything that will happen when it’s finally your turn to get vaccinated!

I had scheduled to get my vaccine done on the 15th of April, 2021. I queued outside of the room alongside other hospital and medical staff. I spoke to a lovely security guard who advised me to wear a mask; I didn’t bring my own so luckily they had single use ones available. The lady in front of me came with her baby, who for some unknown reason was infatuated with the security guard. They played with the baby while the mother was filling out her forms.

Walking into the room, you’ll probably be greeted with a similar set-up to what I had: a bunch of nurses and doctors sitting at a desk, asking you questions like whether you have symptoms, asking for the form which you’ll have already signed beforehand, and generally just asking how your day’s going. There will be a couple of vaccination booths that are hidden away, and a sort of waiting area where you’ll have to sit for 20 minutes after getting your vaccine done.

Being honest, I didn’t really realise that it was done, I barely felt it.

After talking to the nurses and giving them my form at the desk, I was called to get my vaccination done. Not that I have a fear of needles or anything, but I was a little bit nervous. I mean, does anyone actually like needles? I hadn’t known anyone who had received the vaccine and I didn’t really know what to expect. The doctor that did my vaccination was like all of the staff at the vaccination site – super friendly and laid-back, which really helped to alleviate my nerves. Before I knew it, I had been vaccinated. Being honest, I didn’t really realise that it was done, I barely felt it.

Fatigue has been a fairly common side effect of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, but after about a day and a half I was back to normal.

Afterwards, they’ll get you to sit down and wait for 20 minutes while your body gets used to the vaccine and check you’re feeling okay. (I actually don’t know why they get you to sit down, but I’d assume this would be the reason why.) They’ll also hand you a specific card which you must take to your second vaccination, as well as a piece of paper telling you what to expect (symptoms- wise) and a couple of other generic forms with medical information. After 20 minutes, you are free to leave. It’s a super easy process that hopefully won’t take you too much time, but as more people get the vaccine with the roll-out of more doses you shouldn’t be surprised if you have to wait a while. If it’s anything like my experience though, this wasn’t much of an issue. In fact the collective nerves and excitement of the room made for a community-like feel. The most stressful time I had getting vaccinated was actually trying to find the room.

Now, the important question is, did I die? Obviously not, but I can tell you how I felt after my injection. That night, I had a four hour night shift without a break, so I drove to Chicking, a fried chicken restaurant, afterwards to grab dinner. And that’s when it hit me. I was so fucking tired. Normally after working it would be natural to feel tired, but this feeling of fatigue felt as though I had pulled an all-nighter. Fatigue has been a fairly common side effect of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, but after about a day and a half I was back to normal. And even when I was fatigued I could still like, you know, function... In addition to this, some people might get a headache, or muscle aches or even some nausea, but you should be okay.

So there you have it. Getting the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine really wasn’t that bad at all. We are all in the same boat, and we are all a little nervous and a lot excited for this to be put behind us, and that means everyone has worked together to make this process as comfortable as possible.

I’m due to get my second dose of the vaccine relatively soon, so if you don’t see any more contributions from me for Debate, you’ll know why.

Not dead, just tired ;)