Sunday, May 16, 2021

My vaccination experience - dose 1

Vaccination for the age group of 18-44 was announced on May 1st, soon after which Maharashtra government also announced that vaccination would be available free of cost in the state. Slots soon started opening up on the COWIN website as it became the fastest fingers first game.

People I follow on Twitter went for their vaccination and shared updates of a seamless, smooth experience - which helped encouraging others. Of course, getting a slot itself is very frustrating - follow Twitter to know what time will the slots be released. I myself tried a few times unsuccessfully, it was my brother who booked a slot for me.

Some tricks to book:

1. Use incognito mode browser.

2. Ensure you have a fast internet connection.

3. Use a laptop/desktop to book instead of the phone.

4. Log in a few seconds before the given time and refresh till you find the slot, enter the correct captcha, and book.

5. Don't be choosy about center and time options - make those decisions in advance else it only takes a few seconds for the slots to get full.

What to keep in mind before going for vaccination:

There is no official communication made, but generally be well-rested, sleep well the night before, have a nice healthy meal beforehand. I would also advise you to inform at work - as you will need to rest for a day or two.

What to carry to the vaccination center:

1. The ID that you used to make the booking (Aadhaar/Voter ID/Pan/Driving License etc)

2. A pen (some places request you to fill a form or sign and you don't want to use their pen)

3. A small water bottle (Mainly because of the blazing summer, though I would suggest not removing the mask at all as far as possible).

4. Your phone and earphones (You may have to wait for a while, especially if you're alone you may get bored so you want to have some music or movie to watch).

5. Make sure you double mask - surgical disposable mask inside and cloth mask over that (don't double mask with the same type of mask).

6. Small Sanitizer bottle - to use frequently after you have had to touch any surface.

Before you leave your home, make sure you double-check the address for the vaccination center - for me, it was confusing as it just said Gaondevi on SMS so I thought it was Vashi, and just in nick of time I realized it was Panvel. Even google maps did not have the correct information for UPHC and luckily my cabbie knew the vaccination center.

At the vaccination center:

  • My center was UPHC at Panvel, Raigad and it was a small town-style place where they only spoke in Marathi.
  • Upon arriving I joined a queue to show my registration SMS and get a token.
  • After which I have to take a seat and wait for the announcement of my token number.
  • Social distancing is all upon you - there are many chairs and it's totally on you how far you can keep yourself from others waiting along with you.
  • During my time, most of the chairs were full so it was not possible to maintain a 2-feet-distance, but everyone seemed to be double-masked.
  • I did see the security guard remove his mask for a short while, and another person where his mask below the nose - I was highly discomforted by both.
  • They announce token numbers in batches.
  • I had to wait for almost an hour for my number.
  • Then I was taken to another queue where my secret password (that you get when you register) was asked if I had any health concerns, was pregnant or lactating, my name, age details were taken.
  • We were asked to remove our shoes before heading inside and asked to take a seat.
  • There were separate rooms where the vaccine was being administered, I was called within a couple of minutes.
  • The nurse/professional informed me that she was administering the COVISHIELD vaccine and gave the jab on my left arm and put a cotton swap and asked me to hold it but not rub or put pressure, and then go outside and sit. She also gave me 2 paracetamol tablets - to be taken at night and in the morning the next day.
  • Soon another nurse called me, took my name, age, location details again. She asked me to throw the cotton swab in a bin, checked my O2 levels on an oximeter, and then asked me to wait for 15 minutes (not 30) at the waiting area near her.
  • This area soon got crowded too, with no social distancing again. She asked everyone if anyone is feeling dizzy or discomfort of any type happening.
  • After 15 minutes, she took my name and said I could leave.

Post vaccine:

Vaccine Day: I felt fine the day I got the vaccine shot, just a bit tired which could be because of being out in the heat and waiting. I took a Dolo 650 at night and went to sleep.

Day +1: I got up with a fever and left arm where the injection was given paining so much that I could not even move it properly. I had my morning Dolo 650 and went back to sleep. Fever returned again at night - but it was always low-grade 100 degrees Fahrenheit for me.

Day + 2: Did not have a fever anymore, pain in my arm still there but I was back to work (work from home of course).

Day + 3: Felt much better overall, but topical pain at the injection site was still there.

Day +4: I observed that the topical pain at the injection site was accompanied by tenderness, redness, felt warm to touch and I asked others in the family if they also had such. None of them did. I then consulted the COWIN helpline, my doctor friend, and a third nearby doctor - all of them telling me that I seem to have had injection inflammation. Anti-inflammation medicine prescribed for 2 days.

Day +5: Anti-inflammation meds seem to be working, all above-mentioned symptoms are still there but much less than Day +4.

Things to learn from my experience:

1. Try to opt for a center that someone else has visited and okay'd. (In terms of social distancing, language spoken, overall cleanliness and hygiene and comfort).

2. If you have to travel far to the vaccination center, make sure someone is accompanying you (I had my husband accompany me  - just in case you don't feel too good afterward).

3. I would also advise that not everyone in the fam should get vaccinated together - because you may all be feeling under the weather for the next couple of days. Always split so that one half can look after the other, especially if there are kids at home. My husband will get his later, and by then I can look after him.

4. At the center, please ask them what are the possible side effects you should look out for (they all differ depending on which company's vaccine you are getting). Also ask them what should be the treatment/remedy for that side effect.

Next dose:

At the center I visited, the gap between 1st and 2nd dose for COVISHIELD was mentioned as 45 days i.e. around 6-7 weeks, but soon after it has been announced that the new recommended gap is 12 weeks i.e. almost 3 months after the first dose. I will update this blog once I have more clarity on that front.


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