Approximately three weeks ago, Waterville residents Kate James and Tera Williams received their first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Both work as ICU and PCU Registered Nurses and have been regularly working with COVID-19 positive patients since the outbreak began in 2020. They agreed to a set of three interviews over five weeks sharing their experiences with the vaccine.

During their first interview soon after their first dose of the vaccine, both Kate and Tera shared they experienced the common side effect of a sore arm near the injection site for about two days after. Tera also experienced a foggy head for about 30 minutes approximately two hours after receiving her shot. She compared it to having one or two servings of alcohol. After that, neither woman experienced any reaction to the vaccine. Their initial experience was very uneventful.

This last week, both Tera and Kate received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and followed up with their second interview two days later. Tera acknowledged that her reaction to the second shot was much more significant. Several hours after receiving the shot, Tera stated she experienced, “general fatigue, mild nausea, and body aches.” Kate reported fatigue as well. Both women also noted the arm they received the injection in hurt much more than they did after the first shot. However, Kate did observe that her arm pain did go away more quickly than the first time. Both Kate and Tera said these symptoms disappeared within two days. The only side effect that remained for either woman was a slight red discoloration on Tera’s arm near the injection site.

An information package about the medication that was provided to both women when they received their first dose of the vaccine listed normal side effects like injection site pain, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, injection site swelling, and redness, nausea, feeling unwell, and swollen lymph nodes. It also listed rare, but severe allergic side effects that show up within a few minutes to one hour after receiving a dose. These rare side effects include difficulty breathing, swelling on your face and throat, a fast heartbeat, a bad rash all over your body, and dizziness and weakness. Tera pointed out that these rare side effects can occur with a lot of vaccines and medications and are not unique to this vaccine.

While their experience with the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was more significant than the first, both women confirmed they felt fine within 48 hours of receiving the shot and they were ready to return to work, providing medical care to those in need.