An Asian American nursing researcher who volunteered for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trials says she experienced a high fever and other side effects.
Kristine Choi,PhD, wrote about her experience for the medical journal JAMA.
Participating in the blind study meant she would not be told whether she actually received the vaccine or a placebo. To her surprise, she said the randomization bothered her and prayed for the best. She said she hoped that researchers would actually inject the experimental vaccine into her.
She received her first dose and experienced nothing more than soreness. She would return one month later for the second dose.
“My arm quickly became painful at the injection site, much more than the first time. By the end of the day, I felt light-headed, chilled, nauseous, and had a splitting headache,” she wrote. “I went to bed early and fell asleep immediately. Around midnight, I woke up feeling worse—feverish and chilled, nauseated, dizzy, and hardly able to lift my arm from muscle pain at the injection site. My temperature was 99.4 °F (37.4 °C). I tossed and turned, sleeping little during the rest of the night.”
Her temperature would late spike to 104.9 before dropping to 102. She called the research nurse who told her to keep monitoring the situation and that others had experienced symptoms as well. By the next day, Choi says all her symptoms disappeared and she returned to normal.
“The type of side effects we’re seeing with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are typical of any vaccine, though there is a spectrum,” William J. Moss, MD, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health told Medscape Medical News, according to WebMD. “Some people have more severe reactions than others,” he said.
“People should not expect to get that many side effects,” said Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association.
Both Rizzo and Moss say the symptoms Choi experienced are extreme, but point to the need for medical providers to be prepared to answer questions.
The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine began arriving Monday morning to hospitals around the country. Medical first responders and people in nursing homes will be among the first to get it.
A recent PEW study found that more than 80% of Asian Americans surveyed said they would take the vaccine if given the opportunity.
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