ow does one feel after getting the Covid-19 vaccine? Are the bodily reactions normal, as they are for many other vaccines? Our special health and science reporter Angela Oketch put these questions to six Kenyans who have taken the jab, and their experiences are as varied as their locations. What is constant among them, however, is the call on Kenyans to go get vaccinated
Dr Nancy Booker
“Congratulations Nancy.” Those were the first two words of the message from the Ministry of Health after I received my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The message also indicated when I would be getting the next dose, and added a slight spring to my step as I felt I had just received extra ammunition to fight the virus.
I have been taking precautions ever since the first Covid-19 case was announced in Kenya, perhaps overcautious. As a professor, the shift to online teaching made it easy for me to continue working without having to be in public.
I knew of people close to me who had contracted the disease but they had pulled through after a while. March 2021, however, presented a whole different scenario. Suddenly, the fatalities were people I knew and had interacted with in my professional circles, or folks who were in school with me. There is something about seeing your agemates die.
The reality of the virus was too close to ignore. I became anxious and felt that I needed to do much more to take care of myself. The vaccine was finally in the country but all the news and information that I had received about the vaccine weren’t helping.
I had fears about the possible side effects that have made news world-over since the vaccine roll-out. I resolved to follow the Covid-19 health protocols, but deep down I knew this wasn’t enough. I needed extra armor.
After reading about the side effects and speaking with several friends and family members who are medical doctors, and with some greater level of certainty that I wasn’t putting myself in harm’s way, I finally took the plunge.
The fear that engulfed me in the beginning was gone. It has been more than 24 hours since I got my first jab and I feel fine. I didn’t experience any headaches and I had a normal day going about all my engagements after the vaccine.
I had a good night’s sleep, my appetite is fine and despite waking up with slight pain and discomfort in the arm where the jab went through, I feel pretty good. I was told by the doctor at the vaccination center that the pain in my arm will wear out in a few days. I am drinking lots of water to stay hydrated as was advised.
My experience goes to show that the mind is powerful in the fight against this disease, and that we need to tell our stories to get more people in line for the shot. So, when it is your turn to get the shot, please go for it.
Dr Booker is an Assistant Professor at the Aga Khan University’s Graduate School of Media and Communications.
I had my Covid-19 injection two days ago, and on that particular day I felt quite normal. The next day my arm was aching and felt a bit heavy, and I experienced a feverish feeling, joint pain, loss of appetite and a headache. The doctor had advised that because I had Covid before, I was likely to experience almost similar symptoms, and to take paracetamol thrice a day for two days. The following day, I was okay and feeling better. I encourage everyone to take the vaccine when the opportunity comes as it’s meant to reduce chances of being in a critical condition even if you got Covid-19. The vaccine helps to boost your immune system. I am eagerly waiting for my second dose, and feeling much better.
Ms Mayaka is an MCA in Nyamira County.
I got the jab on Thursday this week. Immediately after injection I was told to rest for about 10 minutes. I thought I should go for the jab because of too much risk exposure as I am a politician. Also, as a leader, I wanted to lead by example so that I can encourage other people to go for it.
Yes, I had a second thoughts about this. There is this myth that if you are young you will never give birth because the vaccine is a sort of family planning agent, but after seeing young frontline workers take the jab I realized this could be a lie because doctors are not expected to willingly harm themselves.
I still asked the nurse who was administering the jab whether it was safe and she assured me it was okay. Another nurse explained to me that when the measles vaccine was introduced, the same myths were spread just to scare people from taking it, but in the end it became commonplace.
After the vaccination, I felt a slight pain in the injected area on the first day and some slight headache. Today is the second day, and I am feeling better. The pain has gone.
Now, everyone who has talked to me has promised to go for it. The fear is there, of course, but the confidence you get after getting vaccinated is on another level. I feel protected and I am eagerly waiting for my second jab.
Ms Osiema is an MCA in Kakamega County.
On March 16, 2021, I woke up in the morning with an 8:00am appointment at Kitale Referral Hospital. The appointment was a Covid-19 vaccination schedule. With a lot of anxiety, I walked to the hospital to receive the vaccine, and on arrival headed directly to the vaccination site.
I was registered in the system and lined up for the actual vaccine. As I sat in line many things crossed my mind, including whether I should just walk back and think again if I was ready for the vaccine. But I also thought of my work with the health department and how I would be glad to stop the spread of Covid-19. Hence I stayed.
When my turn came I braced myself for a very painful injection, but it was so gentle that I didn’t feel any pain. After the jab the health provider observed me for about 20 minutes then discharged me with an appointment for the next dose.
Due to anxiety, I listened to my body a lot. I was expecting some bad feeling and sickness of some sort but that did not happen. All I felt was very mild body malaise and thirst.
The following day I was quite okay and went on with my daily routines as usual. My injection site did not swell as many claimed. I’m scheduled for my second jab on May 11 2021, and am looking forward to the day. I’m now more confident and ready to live my life as an individual vaccinated against Covid-19
Ms Odiwuor is a health care worker.
It took me a lot of courage as, like any other person, I was worried and scared of what the outcome would be. A lot had been said and written about the AstraZeneca vaccine, particularly its good and bad, and I was conscious of the fact that some European countries had halted the vaccination due to the claims that it caused blood clots.
After some personal diligence and a bit of research, I took the jab on March 22, 2021. On the very day, I went about my daily routine as usual since I had no abnormal feelings, save for the pain on the injection site. On that night I had enough sleep.
On the morning of the following day, it all went well until around noon when I felt overwhelmed and had to take a leave from work. I had a mild headache, fever, joint pains and general body malaise. I went home and took a nap that helped relax my body. I had no worries as all these were expected side effects. At night the fever spiked and I had to take some antipyretics.
The only unexpected situation I found myself was insomnia. On the morning of March 24, 2021, I woke up with a subsidised fever but with no headache, joint pains or malaise, so I went back to my normal life as I wait to get my next jab on May 21, 2021.
There are so many conspiracy theories around the vaccine, and that is nothing new in the history of vaccinology. I urge Kenyans to get the vaccine as this is a good initiative by the government to protect its citizens. Vaccines build our immune systems and, while there might be risks associated with this one, the benefits outweigh the risks. Go for it.
Mr Ogola is a medical laboratory officer at Vihiga County Referral Hospital.
After getting my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on March 17, 2021 at the Kisumu County Hospital, I am so ready to get the second dose. The injection itself is not painful, and it is quite fast. Later that evening, after about five hours, I developed fever followed by a slight headache. I went to bed and when I woke up the following day I could still feel the fever and headache. I also felt some aching on my joints, mainly on the elbow and knee joints. Additionally, I felt pain on the site that had been injected, on my upper arm.
I felt this way for the following 24 hours, after which the fever and headache disappeared. The pain on the injection site also went away completely after four days.
During this time I was able to go on with my duties normally. I did not take any painkillers to manage the discomfort. I feel so protected and so ready for my second jab.
Mr Apuot is a medical officer.