A day after I received the second dose of my COVID-19 vaccine, I woke up with a mild headache, slight fever, general body soreness, and discomfort. These were just a few of the symptoms that vaccine manufacturers have reported as anticipated effects from the second dose of COVID-19 vaccination. The symptoms are quite similar to those who get infected with the real COVID-19 virus.
In my case, the second post-vaccination reaction lasted for a day. One should see a healthcare practitioner and consider taking a COVID test should these symptoms persist for more than 3 days.
The reactions from the second dose are more intense compared to the first dose. It is a sign that our body’s immune system is responding to the vaccine. The first dose primes the immune system, building an army of cells. As a result, the second dose then generates a more robust immune response. This explains why we have stronger side effects after receiving the second dose.
However, those who might not experience the post-vaccination symptoms shall not worry. While side effects are generally a sign that the body’s immune system is working, Dr. William Moss, Executive Director of John Hopkins University Corona Virus Resource Center, said that “those who do not have moderate or severe side effects from the vaccine can still have a very protective immune response. They just did not possess, for various reasons, that intense inflammatory response” due to some factors like their genetic make-up or prior history of exposure.
The best thing to do to ease the discomfort is to rest, drink plenty of fluids and follow the usual interventions when someone has flu. I tried not to take any OTC medication before or right after my vaccination. I learned from literature to refrain, if possible, from taking any pain or anti-inflammatory medications before receiving the vaccine as it would limit the body’s ability to react and develop an anti-inflammatory response.
This idea completely makes sense to me. We should not prevent the body’s inflammatory processes after receiving the vaccine by taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin, Advil, or Aleve. However, if symptoms persist and become unbearable, healthcare practitioners suggest taking Tylenol, which does not possess an anti-inflammatory property. I took a 500 mg tablet on the second night of my vaccination which helped relieve my symptoms and provide a good night’s rest.
Many of us may be curious as to how the vaccine works to ensure protection. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Vaccines, two of the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines currently being used in the United States are called the mRNA vaccines. This kind of vaccine helps our cells make their own proteins to trigger an immune response and fight the COVID-19 virus.
Imagine a virus as a ball with spikes around it. Those spikes are what are called proteins that, once they enter the body, immediately attach to our cells and rapidly multiply as many times as possible. What the vaccine does is stimulate our body’s own defenses, known as antibodies. The antibodies specific to recognize the structure of the COVID virus will fight and destroy these spikes so that they are held incapable of binding with our cells.
The second dose or booster dose is important to ensure that the memory cells known as T-cells and B-cells remember the virus. It is like finishing touches. The second dose may be likened to a student reading a complicated Philosophy book the second time around. The human mind develops a greater grasp of the materials when the activity is repeated. It enables the student to better understand and remember the materials and is more equipped and successful to take an exam related to the readings.
On top of all benefits of vaccination, the vaccines have come without questions about their moral legitimacy. There were reports that the vaccines at their various stages of development have used some materials from aborted embryos for testing. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna had minimally employed morally compromised human embryonic cell lines during the confirmatory tests of the vaccine’s efficacy. However, neither of the vaccines developed by these companies used human embryonic cell lines in the design, development, or production for mass use.
Some vaccines under development might have used extensive materials from cell lines of aborted embryos in the different levels of their development and the manufacturing and production process. One of these vaccines is the AstraZeneca.
The Catholic Church offers guidance to this difficult moral question. The Church acknowledges that the faithful have the responsibility to do good and distance themselves from any immoral acts, such as abortion, by avoiding any actions attached to it. A crisis, however widespread it may be, such as the COVID-19 pandemic does not permit us to merely accept moral evil for the sake of good motives or satisfactory results.
There are some who refuse to receive the vaccine in witness to their faith. Such “a decision can be made in good conscience; however, such individuals must also consider taking care of themselves and those around them.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), through its document Moral Considerations Regarding the New Covid-19 Vaccines, cited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which states that the “Church recognize the different level of cooperation with the evil acts of others. The responsibility of those who are involved in using illicit origin in the testing is not the same as that of those who do not have a voice in making such decisions.” Saying this, the Bishops urge the faithful to look for vaccines that do not use abortion-derived cell lines in any phase of the study or production of the vaccine.
However, if there is no satisfactory alternative, the Bishops reiterated that severe health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, could justify using a vaccine that was developed using cell lines of illicit origin.
The gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic left millions of people to suffer and die from serious complications, not to mention the social, psychological, and economic impact that cripple many families. The reasons to accept the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious reasons to justify their use, despite their minimal utilization of morally compromised sources.
Still, receiving morally compromised vaccines should not be done with ease and complacency. Its use may only be done “under protests.” We have an obligation to make known our opposition to abortion and the use of abortion-derived cell lines. For instance, the USCCB has urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are developed ethically and are free from any connection to the exploitation of abortion.”
As Christians, it is important to demand not only for a safe but also for a morally acceptable alternative to abortion-derived cell lines. Otherwise, our researchers and scientists will heavily rely on those materials that may lead to conveniently support the practice of abortion to advance clinical research.
The Bishops have urged the faithful “to be watchful so that even though with the positive results brought by the vaccines to our communities, it does not weaken our determination to oppose the evil of abortion and the subsequent use of fetal cells in research and other scientific studies.”
Saying all of this, the Church “neither requires nor forbids the use of ethically problematic vaccines, but instead urges people to discern what decision to make after having carefully formed their consciences about the moral and prudential issues surrounding the vaccines.”
The Bishops noted that “ receiving the vaccine ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of the community and part of our responsibility for the common good.” For instance, vaccination could prevent the spike of COVID-19 cases which poses risks to the vulnerable population. The increase in hospitalization would also take a toll on our healthcare front-liners that could eventually overwhelm our healthcare system.
Despite all of the discomfort I experienced with the vaccination, I am convinced that the benefits of receiving the vaccine are far greater than the risks and dangers of contacting the COVID-19 virus.
Although there is still so much unknown information about the vaccines, I trust the safety and efficacy of the data established during their respective clinical trials and the unison support of the medical and science communities of their use. Vaccines in general are safe and effective and rarely cause long-term negative effects. However, even with the vaccination, we need to keep observing the general precautions to prevent contagion, such as careful hand washing, wearing masks, and observing physical distancing.
As we move forward, let us implore the Divine assistance of our Lord, Jesus Christ, our Eternal physician, to bless our human undertakings to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We especially pray for the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine so that it will become an instrument to bring back the semblance of normalcy in our lives.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops-Committee on Doctrine and the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Moral Considerations Regarding the New Covid-19 Vaccines( Washington, DC: USCCB) December 11, 2020
The National Catholic Bioethics Center, Points to Consider on the Use of COVID-19 Vaccines (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) December 8, 2020
John Hopkins Medicine, COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know?
Featured Image Compliments of:
https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-getting-vaccinated-3985170/ by Gustavo Fring