I’m a teacher. I therefore qualified for AstraZeneca even though most of the population in Italy still hasn’t received a shot of any sort. (As of today, March 24, we’re at 9.35% for a first dose and 4.36 for both doses.)
In the days leading up to my appointment, I felt relieved knowing I could get a shot, although the news about AstraZeneca was mixed. Still, it seemed as if the benefits outweighed the risks.
On Monday, March 15, I rolled up my sleeve and let the équipe that had traveled from the UK administer my dose. I felt fine for several hours, until I didn’t.
What fever! While it “only” hit 38° centigrade, my heart pounded at 112 beats per minute. My oxygen levels plummeted to 93%. My head throbbed. I called the emergency doctor’s number (at night, on weekends and during holidays someone is always on call to field questions in Italy). He said it was probably “just” a reaction to the shot, told me to take two paracetamol tablets and call my GP in the morning.
It was hard sleeping with my head and heart exploding while gasping for air. The next morning, still decidedly under the weather, I found that AstraZeneca shots had been suspended all over Europe. People had died from blood clots.
Days later, I’ve survived, and it appears that AstraZeneca is going to go back into people’s arms.
Still, though, I’ve been included in a study at a local hospital to see if my platelet count and coagulation levels remain normal. To see what the longer-term effects of this vaccine are.
It’s not great to think of yourself as a guinea pig. On the other hand, if I had to do it all over again, I would. After over a year of worrying about Coronavirus, having protection of some sort feels worth it. Fever, headaches, bad press and possible blood clots notwithstanding.