Fearing fatigue? Local doctor explains what to expect from second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 8:04 PM, Mar 23, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - A couple of weeks ago, News 3 anchor Barbara Ciara took an unexpected day off. The day before, she happily shared with her colleagues at the station that she had received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine. The next day, she was flat on her back – fatigued and suffering from flu-like symptoms and headaches.

Barbara learned she’s not alone, and some of you may have a similar story.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 million doses were given out during the first month of COVID-19 vaccinations across the country. None of those folks are required to report how they feel after a vaccination.

But there is data: Nearly 7,000 volunteers told the CDC they experienced arm pain, headaches and fatigue among the common complaints.

Dr. Christopher Dowd with Cornerstone Private Practice told News 3 that's a sign your body is working to beef up your immune system against the virus.

“You know, I've probably had 10 phone calls about vaccine side effects, and we've given out well over 1,000 vaccines. It's a small number of people who are getting significant reactions, and even then, every single one of them knows you know the first thing they say to me when we get on the phone together: ‘I know this is just the vaccine; I'm just wondering,” Dr. Dowd explained.

Dr. Dowd went on to say, “Almost everybody understands that it's a good thing that their bodies mounting this response, and almost everybody you know can understand, and actually I think is reassured by the idea that going through this now is sort of small price to pay in order to not go through what so many of us have gone through as far as getting COVID and the consequences of that.”

Related: News 3's medical expert explains why the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can pack a bigger punch

Barbara added that there has been some discussion among people she’s run into who have been thinking out loud and asking, “Well, if I had COVID, should I get the shot?

"As you know, we're still learning. We're still doing studies, and so the answer might change,” Dr. Dowd said. “Right now, the advice is to get it, and if it's a two-dose vaccine, get both of them. It’s possible down the road we might say one is enough, but [we’re] not saying that right now.”

Once you've begun your second vaccination, the CDC says it takes at least a month before you're protected.

Social distancing and mask wearing still remain important after vaccination, but according to new CDC guidelines, it's okay for fully vaccinated people to mingle with each other indoors and maskless once they've achieved full protection.

Click here for our full COVID-19 vaccination guide.