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  • Writer's pictureKaren McPhail, RN, MSN

My Covid Vaccine Experience

I received my second Moderna COVID vaccination today. Just like the first, it was relatively painless, and I know that I did the right thing as a healthcare provider for my patients and for myself! I encourage health care providers and others when it is their time to receive the vaccine as it is a critical step in halting the progression of this pandemic. Wearing masks and social distancing helps reduce ones chances of being exposed to the virus or inadvertently spreading it to others, but these measures are simply not enough. The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. are approximately 95% effective at preventing people from getting sick with COVID-19 symptoms, (Pfizer and Moderna). However, even with the clear benefits of vaccination, getting a vaccine is not something that most individuals look forward to. We were all relieved when vaccines finally became available in the U.S., but many individuals still have some concerns and reservations. It is important to remember, while COVID-19 vaccines are still being developed and were developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures have remained in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. Safety is still a top priority throughout, and there are many valid reasons to get vaccinated. This is especially important at this time for health care providers and for those working in congregate care settings as they are working with vulnerable high risk populations.

Key Considerations - Reasons to Get Vaccinated:

  • Vaccination is a vital tool to help stop the pandemic!

  • Vaccination provides a safer way to help build protection! COVID-19 vaccination will help protect individuals by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience illness.

  • COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect all individuals and what will be the potential long term side effects such as Post covid syndrome, post acute covid syndrome.

  • Again, safety is being assured! Clinical trials of all vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be authorized or approved for use, including COVID-19 vaccines.

  • The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine for use under what is known as an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

  • Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection - immunity. But experts don’t know how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity.

Some important information about current U.S. vaccines in use:

Moderna Vaccine:

  • 94.5 effective

  • 100 mcg doses given IM injection 28 days - month apart- recently FDA evaluating efficacy of 50mcg dosing

  • 10 dose vials

  • No dilution required

  • Approved for use in ages 18 and above

  • 30,350 trial participants - announced primary efficacy analysis in phase 3 trial on November 30, 2020

  • The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is an unapproved vaccine that may prevent COVID-19.

  • There is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

  • The FDA has authorized the emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

  • In clinical trials, approximately 15,400 individuals 18 years of age and older have received at least 1 dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.

  • The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown.

  • 2 dose series with second injection approximately 28 days -1 month after first

  • Storage -20 degrees C (standard home freezer temp)

  • Shelf life 30 days standard refrigeration temp (2-8 degree Celsius)

  • Covid mRNA vaccine

  • Fact sheet:

Pfizer Vaccine:

  • 95% effective

  • 36,621 trial participants, published safety and final efficacy trial results from phase 3 trial on December 10, 2020

  • Approved for use age 16 and over

  • 30 mcg doses given 21 days apart

  • Comes in 5 dose vials- diluted in 0.9% sodium chloride

  • 2 dose series, with second injection approximately 21 days after first

  • Storage -75 degrees Celsius (standard dry ice temperature)

  • Shelf life 5 days of standard refrigeration temp (2-8 degree Celsius)

  • or

  • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is an unapproved vaccine that may prevent COVID-19. There is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

  • The FDA has authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

  • Covid mRNA vaccine

  • The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown.


Side effects of both vaccines:

  • The most common side effects for both vaccines were injection site pain, headache, fatigue, fever, muscle pain, chills and joint pain.

  • These were reported more often in the Moderna trial than the Pfizer trial.

  • Short-term pain at the injection site was extremely common for both vaccines. Roughly 90% of those who got the Moderna vaccine reported such pain after their two doses, as did roughly 80% of those who got the Pfizer vaccine.

Both vaccines are mRNA vaccines - What does this mean?

  • mRNA technology was discovered 30 years ago- has been studied for vaccine purposes for over 2 decades. This should provide some peace of mind.

  • Scientists have actually been working on a coronavirus since SARS and MERS outbreaks, but funding dried up.

  • Provide instructions to our cells to make a harmless, but critical piece (what our cells use to recognize the virus) of what is called the spike protein.

  • The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes Covid-19 and is essential for the virus to infect our cells.

  • Our immune systems recognize that this protein does not belong and begin making antibodies for our protection.

If you still have concerns, as always speak with and receive direct guidance from your healthcare provider before moving forward. COVID-19 vaccination is currently a safe and effective mechanism to help stop the pandemic. Again, wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chances also of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are simply not enough.

If you are able to volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) please do so:

They need those with and without medical experience to help!


This blog is meant to provide an educational overview of currently available information relating to the covid vaccines snd to share personal experience receiving the vaccine. Information is ever-changing, so all readers are encouraged to continue to view links provided as things continue to unfold. The material discussed in this blog reflects the current data available as of the date of this blog and should be used with the clear understanding that continued research may result in new knowledge and/or new or modified cdc recommendations.

This material is not intended to represent the only methods or procedures appropriate for the medical situation discussed; rather, the material is intended to present current recommended approaches, which may be helpful or of interest to other individuals in making informed personal decisions relating to the vaccine and health management.





Washington Post

Stat news

LA Times


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