Mon 2022-Nov-07

Today I Got Shot… For the 12th Time

Tagged: COVID / PharmaAndBiotech / Politics

Today I got my 12th vaccination since 2020! Really.

Wait, what? Twelve vaccinations in under 3 years?

Yeah, 12; count ‘em up:

  • The latest bivalent Wuhan/Omicron.BA.4-5 booster is my 5th COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Then 3 annual flu vaccinations for 2020-2022.
  • Then there were 2 Shingrix shots for shingles, since I’m apparently now Officially Old.
  • Finally there was a TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and pneumococcal combined PPSV23 at my physical last September.

5 + 3 + 2 + 2 = 12, which is a lot, even by Château Weekend standards.

But then, 7 of those are just annual maintenance (flu) or things that happen when you become a senior and they try to prevent Bad Stuff from happening as you age. The pandemic just happened to pile up on us at the time I transitioned to the senior citizen clade.

In case you haven’t been noticing, we think vaccinations are good, here at Château Weekend.

We also like the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines!

Perhaps you noticed:

  • On 2022-Jun-08, we wrote about the Moderna readout of the clinical trial of their first bivalent vaccine, which had the classic Wuhan virus and Omicron/BA.1. This was in the early days, before Omicron/BA.4-5 came to town. It was very nice, but the virus variants were piling up faster than a clinical trial could be done and still leave room for manufacturing and rollout of the vaccines!
  • Then on 2022-Jun-28 we wrote about the FDA VRBPAC hearing on variant vaccines. They discussed both the Moderna bivalent Wuhan + Omicron/BA.1 vaccine and the Pfizer offering of a monovalent Omicron/BA.1 vaccine. Both went through clinical trials, with pretty spectacular results. (If any knuckleheads try to tell you they haven’t been through trials, point them at this.) They strictly dominate the older vaccines, in that they generate stronger response both to the older variants and (as expected) Omicron/BA.1. However, since the virus had moved on at that point, the FDA mandated Wuhan + Omicron/BA.4-5 bivalent vaccines for the fall.
  • Then on 2022-Aug-31 we blogged the FDA meeting granting Emergency Use Authorization to the Wuhan + Omicron/BA.4-5 bivalent vaccines. While technically there was no clinical trial here, there were trials on (a) all the previous mRNA vaccines of which this was just a slight tweak, and (b) the Omicron/BA.1 variant both alone and in combination with Wuhan. The FDA VRBPAC decided, and sensible people agreed, that that was enough! So they EUA’d the bivalent vaccines for fall rollout. This was crucial: it’s vital to protect the timeline enough that the vaccines can be manufactured, distributed, and given to people before the winter wave sets in.
  • Then on 2022-Sep-10 we looked at timing of the bivalent boosters, given previous infection.. This was a subject of some intense personal interest here at Château Weekend, as we both had COVID-19 in August. Your humble Weekend Editor got it because of stupidity on mass transit, whereupon the Weekend Editrix also got it. I had a rebound, and pretty much lost the month of August. I’m still recovering from some lingering brain fog.

The recommendation was to wait 2-3 months post-infection. It is now 3 months since the start of infection and 2 months since I started reliably testing negative at the end of infection. So it’s time; this is der tag!

We decided first to schedule my appointment and then the Weekend Editrix’s appointment. We didn’t want both of us feeling weak, sore, and crabby with side effects at the same time! Annoyingly, I had to schedule an appointment a couple weeks out, because of bivalent vaccine availability. Not as bad as the first round in early 2021, but still pretty annoying.

After the annoying couple weeks of wait, I presented myself at the appointed pharmacy at the appointed time. I was remanded into the care of a pharmacy tech who turned out to be a rather charming Black gentleman with a lovely Caribbean accent. (I’m a fool for a good accent, and always want to know where people come from and how they speak. Once at a Club Med I met a Zimbabwean who learned English via British RP, then worked in the US, and then hung out with Quebecois French speakers working at Club Med. It’s difficult to fool me about accents, but she sure did! Almost made it worth the price of the trip just for that.)

Moderna's bivalent original/BA.4-5 COVID-19 Vaccine Getting the Moderna bivalent in the portside dorsal manipulator tentacle He was initially reluctant to allow photos, but after encouraging him to ask his manager (“Sure, why not?”) I got the goods. Here you see him injecting your humble Weekend Editor’s portside dorsal manipulator tentacle, otherwise known as My Left Arm. That’s my COVID vaccinatin’ arm, there on the left… lots of experience. The box shows it was the Moderna bivalent (BA.4-5) vaccine, exactly what I wanted.

Sanofi Pasteur's Fluzone, high-dose quadrivalent variety Getting the Fluzone high-dose quadrivalent in right dorsal manipulator tentacle Then we proceeded to the flu vaccine. As you can see here, it’s the Sanofi Pasteur Fluzone brand, ironically enough: I actually know people who worked on this and related vaccines! No time like the present to be grateful for the work of friends who are trying to keep one alive.

It’s quadrivalent, meaning it goes after 4 different strains of influenza. It’s also high-dose, since I’m older and need the additional stimulation. (No, kiddies… this one’s too strong for your delicate little bodies, and is reserved for your grownup elders!)

I got it, as you can see, in the starboard dorsal manipulator tentacle, otherwise known as My Right Arm. The idea here is to get the vaccines in opposite arms so they’re not competing for the immune cells in the same germinal centers. One viral terrorist warning for the left arm and its lymph nodes, and a different viral terrorist warning for the right arm and its lymph nodes.

The Effects

As I write this, almost exactly 5 hours have elapsed since the 2 jabs. I’m starting to feel it:

  • Sore deltoids on both sides, but more on the COVID-19 side than on the flu side.
  • General lassitude, and some general soreness. (Though some of that could be due to a Zoom exercise/stretching/yoga class that the Weekend Editrix and I had with a very nice Japanese instructor at noon.)

Normally I like to sleep on my side, but that might not be an option tonight! Both sides will be at least a little bit sore, and NSAIDs are out of the question for the next 24-48hr. That’s fine; it’ll be worth it.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll whine about side effects. But probably not: I’ll be happy to have the side effects, because it will mean my immune system is earning its keep and keeping me safe for the coming winter wave.

Oh, and that’s another reason I voted early: the US midterm election is tomorrow, and I didn’t want to be feeling too yucky to bestir myself from the couch. So: civic duty already performed. Reminder: you vote too. And no Republicans. Not for any imaginable office, not under any conceivable circumstance. They’ve turned fascist, so you need to turn your back on them.

Addendum 2022-Nov-08: The Side Effects

(Wouldn’t “The Side Effects” be a great band name?)

I was pretty sore, tired, achy, and grumpy last evening. Sleep was challenging, with 2 sore arms at the same time. This morning was significantly better. Now, at about 27 hours after the vaccination, I’m starting to feel tired-but-ok.

Definitely worth the lowered risk of, oh… say… dying this winter!

And now the Weekend Editrix has her appointment for later this month. Regrettably, it’s a couple weeks out, since this is frustratingly hard to schedule! One thing we could do to increase vaccine uptake is to remove all the BS from getting appointments, but I have little hope anybody will be interested in that.

Yes, I am a Grumpy Old Man. It says so, right at the top of each page of my blog, so it must be true.

Notes & References

1: No. C’mon, just… no.

Published Mon 2022-Nov-07

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