- Suzie Glassman, 44, is a freelance writer and fitness coach based in Castle Rock, Colorado.
- In April, she got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; in October, she got the Moderna booster shot.
- After the booster, Glassman says she had chills, body aches, and her arm was sore for about 24 hours.
In April of this year, vaccine appointments were hard to come by. I waited my turn, meaning I was last in line in terms of eligibility for the 18-and-up crowd. It felt like winning the lottery when I finally snagged an open appointment to get the Johnson & Johnson shot at a nearby Sam’s Club.
That night I posted on social media that I was a proud member of the “one and done” club, relieved I didn’t have to go back for a second shot. It didn’t matter to me the data showed the J&J vaccine had less efficacy against preventing a COVID infection than Pfizer’s or Moderna’s. The vaccine had dramatically reduced my chance of hospitalization or death if I were to get infected, and that’s all I cared about.
I followed the news closely when talk began about the need for booster shots for added immunity
It may sound fearful, but I worried about a breakthrough infection. I have close friends who are immunocompromised and aging parents who plan to visit for the holidays. If there was anything more I could do to protect myself and my loved ones, I wanted to.
So when I got the news that the FDA recommended all recipients of the J&J vaccine receive a booster after two months, I jumped for joy. My only question was which shot should I get.
I made my decision after reading a news article explaining a pre-print (meaning it hasn’t undergone peer-review) of a study released October 13 showing people who’d gotten the Moderna booster after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had a 76-fold rise in antibodies in 15 days. People who got Johnson & Johnson followed by the Pfizer booster had a 35-fold increase in antibodies, and those who got the Johnson & Johnson booster had a four-fold increase. After the FDA cleared mixing and matching vaccine types, I thought it would be best to get one of the mRNA shots.
Choosing the Moderna booster was more of a gut decision than anything else — I didn’t think about it all that long
On October 24, I went with my 12-year-old son to a drive-up vaccination site just south of Denver. We didn’t need to make an appointment, and it was our turn I rolled down my window and said to the nurse, “I’d like the Moderna booster, please.”
The nurse asked a couple of questions, entered my answers into an iPad, and gave me the shot; the whole process took about five minutes. My son got his second dose of Pfizer at the same time, and 15 minutes later, we left the parking lot and headed home.
The side effects were familiar to my earlier shot
In terms of side effects, I had chills and body aches overnight, similar to what I’d felt after my original Johnson & Johnson shot. The pharmacist let me know it was safe to take Tylenol, so I took two capsules starting at around 10 p.m. that night and every four hours until I no longer felt achy, which was until about noon the following day.
My arm felt very sore for about 24 hours, so I skipped going to the gym the next day.
Still, as my son commented about my reaction — “It’s better than COVID” — and I couldn’t agree more.
This story originally published on Insider October 29, 2021.