It was my decision in April to get the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine and be a proud member of the “one and done” club. It was also my decision to get the Moderna booster shot six months later in October. It’s been two years since I attended the ISSA Show North America and I’m excited to be going to Las Vegas for 2021 on November 15-19 secure in the knowledge that I’ve been boostered.
When I decided in April to schedule my first jab, vaccine appointments were hard to come by. On the day of my appointment, I didn’t have a choice on what vaccine I was going to receive. It was the J&J vaccine that was available, and I was excited to just get one. I didn’t have to go back for a second shot. Even then the data showed that the J&J vaccine had less efficacy against preventing me getting COVID-19 than Moderna or Pfizer’s. But still I was excited as the data showed that all three vaccines dramatically reduced my chance of going to hospital or even dying if I were to get infected and this is what I really cared about.
My work with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council™, (GBAC), a Division of ISSA, means that I have traveled quite a bit this year. Just look at my American Airlines miles or my World of Hyatt account, both of which are GBAC STAR™ Accredited. I do worry about breakthrough infection, that happens when you get infected with a virus or bacterium after you have been fully vaccinated for that disease. My decision to get a booster was made when a study funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH) was released October 13 showed those who received the Moderna booster after the J&J vaccine had a 76-fold rise in antibodies in 15 days. People who got the J&J vaccine followed by the Pfizer booster had a 35-fold increase in antibodies, and those who got the J&J booster had a four-fold increase. In my opinion I thought it was best for me to get one of the mRNA shots (Pfizer or Moderna).
On September 24, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for specific populations and by October 22, CDC amended their recommendation to include Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and “mixing and match” vaccine boosters. But the J&J booster dose recommendation was different, it wasn’t just for those who worked in high-risk settings or had underlying medical conditions, it was for everyone aged 18 or older and for those that received their first dose of the J&J vaccine at least two months ago.
I made an online appointment at my local CVS, it was easy. When I arrived, I said to the pharmacist, “I’d like the Moderna booster, please.” I was surprised as CVS had built a special room for COVID-19 vaccinations but even more surprised when it was the pharmacist who asked me a couple of questions and as he prepared the shot. “Who’s running the pharmacy?” I asked. “We need help” was the reply. Many places are looking for volunteers to help and if you haven’t yet volunteered, I would highly recommend you do it. I volunteer through the local Medical Reserve Corps, it’s a national network of more than 200,000 volunteers, both medical and non-medical folks.
The whole process at CVS took five minutes and then 15 minutes later I headed home. In terms of side effects, the vaccination site in my left arm felt like someone had punched me, it lasted two days. Overnight I felt fine, I drank lots of water and woke up next morning with body aches and just felt yucky. It was going to be a TV day on the couch. I did not take any medication. I missed my run and my bike ride, so I didn’t exercise for two days. And then I felt like nothing had happened, I was back to full strength. How do I feel now? Well, I still don’t want to get COVID-19. I feel excited that I am going to the ISSA Show and I’m boostered.
For more from Dr. Macgregor-Skinner on the COVID-19 booster, tune into this recent Straight Talk! video.