My COVID-19 booster dose vaccination experience

Back in April 2021, I wrote a blog post about my experience receiving my first two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Due to a special credential I held, I was able to get vaccinated a lot sooner than the general public, so I wrote it as a way to share an anecdote with my readers who may be looking to hear others’ stories.

The booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was approved a little while back, but because I was out traveling on my road trip when my six-month post-vaccination recommended booster period came around, I decided to wait until I returned back home to Las Vegas before getting my booster. Because of this, a lot of other people have already gotten their third dose, but I figured I would still write about my experience as a sequel to my first blog post.

Before I begin, I feel like the United States has evolved (or possibly devolved) into a situation where, if someone makes a statement about anything re­lated to COVID-19 (including things like the efficacy of masking by the general public, or the safety of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines), people will draw conclusions derived from said statement that have no logical continuity. I also personally believe the United States has catastrophically mishandled the pandemic by somehow politicizing it, which has brought great division to the topic—a topic where even any divisiveness is probably too much.

With that being said, I want to clarify that I am not implicitly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated just by sharing my own personal vaccination ex­pe­ri­ence. For a combination of many reasons, I have come to the conclusion that I will respect and honor the decisions of both people who do and do not choose to get vaccinated.

Thus, if you are someone who does not trust the COVID-19 vaccine at the moment, I request that you do not leave comments on this blog post or send me messages accusing me of making other people get vaccinated, because I am not. In a similar vein, if you are someone who supports vaccine mandates and are upset that I am taking a neutral stance, I also request that you do not leave comments on this blog post or send me messages forcing me to force other people to get vaccinated.

Returning back to my own vaccination experience, this went a lot better and smoother than my first two doses. As a reminder, if you haven’t read my previous blog post, both of my first two doses were administered to me in the Cashman Center, a massive multipurpose facility… and it still took about two hours for each of my doses, even though I had an appointment.

This time, I went directly to the Southern Nevada Health District on 280 S Decatur Blvd. It was a huge difference compared to the Cashman Center—SNHD is supposed to be closed on the weekends, and this was a special evening and weekend COVID-19 vaccination arrangement, so there was almost nobody there except for the staff and a few vaccination recipients.

Southern Nevada Health District

Upon entering, there was a massive family in front of me that clearly had absolutely no idea what they were doing, so I had to wait a few mi­nutes for them, but after a different staff member noticed that I was standing in line, she took me off to the side and got me checked in for my appointment.

She scanned my QR code, confirmed my identity, asked which manufacturer of vaccine I wanted (I picked Moderna because it is the vaccine that seems to be performing the best against the newer COVID-19 variants), and let me into the area where tables were set up for vaccinations. There was already a spot open and ready for me, so I sat down, went through some basic questions with the nurse (such as explaining my post-vaccination experience for my previous two doses), received some post-vaccination advice (such as recommending drinking a ton of water), then got vaccinated.

From the time I stepped into the building to the time I was seated off to the side for my 15-minute post-shot waiting period, it was no more than about six mi­nutes, and I spent a total of about 20 mi­nutes at the health district.

My vaccination appointment this time around was also in the afternoon, just like my second dose. For my second dose, I started feeling tired in the eve­ning, so I prepared for the same thing to happen after my third dose by washing up and getting in bed after returning to my hotel room. Earlier on in the day, I had also prepared a carton of bottled water and some sugary and fatty snacks, in case I lose my appetite and need the calories.

I browsed social media and watched some videos for a bit, and I was a tiny bit more tired than usual, but I ended up having enough energy left that I got out of bed and started getting some more work done while I could, sort of as a way to cram before my inevitable suffering the following day. I worked fine throughout the evening and night, then fell asleep at 11:30 PM PST.

I woke up at 2 AM, and that’s when the side effects started. I was dizzy and had body aches, and I had the same problems regulating my body tem­per­a­ture as I did for my second dose. I fell back asleep for no longer than an hour and a half at a time before waking up again for another hour or so, with this cycle repeating throughout the night.

For the entire day following the day of my vaccination, I felt very unwell. We all know that you’re supposed to lay in bed and rest up, but I ended up in a very counterproductive situation where, the longer I would lay in bed, the worse I would feel. I would eventually manage to get up, and I would pro­gres­sively start feeling better… but then I would reach a point of exhaustion that I would have to lay back down, then I would pro­gres­sively feel worse a­gain and continue the cycle.

As I predicted, I did indeed lose my appetite. The fatty and sugary snacks helped maintain my caloric intake, and I also ordered a large portion of ice cream on a food delivery app, which helped me reach at least 2,000 calories for the day. I eventually fell asleep at 9:30 PM.

My second night of sleep was much better than the first—after falling asleep at 9:30 PM, I slept uninterrupted until 5:30 AM, when I woke up already feeling much better and very thirsty. I drank some water, went to the bathroom, took some deep breaths, and stretched a bit. My body temperature reg­u­la­tion was back to normal. I actually felt like I had already gotten enough sleep and was rested enough to start my day, but figured that I should still get a few extra hours of sleep in, just to ensure that I’m fully recovered. I fell back asleep at 6:00 AM and woke up for a second time at 9:00 AM.

Throughout the second full day post-vaccination, I was still slightly dizzy, but I was able to resume life as normal. I was able to take a shower and drive safely to a fast food restaurant nearby to get some breakfast in the morning (because I had just barely missed free breakfast hours at the hotel by the time I was ready), then I took on a twelve-hour workday to catch up on stuff I missed from the previous day.

One thing that I want to note is that my heart rate monitor alerted me that my heart rate was unusually high throughout the entire first full day after vaccination—so much so that it logged me as having been in fat burn zone for a majority of the day, and miscalculated how many calories I burned that day because of it. One of my co-workers also notified me about this and confirmed that he had the same thing happen to him for his vaccination.

Prior to receiving the vaccination, I had to check a box acknowledging that young men have a higher chance of inflammation of the heart after receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine—specifically, myocarditis, which is the inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, which is the inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. I clearly did not develop either of these conditions from the vaccine, considering that these are both very serious conditions and I was perfectly fine after a day, but I’m curious if a very high heart rate was a sort of milder version of the side effect related to this warning.

By the third full day post-vaccination, I was entirely back to normal health-feeling-wise, and my heart rate seems to have returned to within ~10% of nor­mal levels.

If you choose to get a COVID-19 vaccination, may it be your first or third dose, I wish you the best of luck, and also highly recommend leaving a day or two free after your scheduled vaccination appointment so you can rest up and recover, in case you experience side effects like I did.