Coronavirus Update From New York City: November 18, 2021 (Booster Shot Edition)

As readers can tell from the title of my Coronavirus update post tonight, I got my booster shot in the past week!

Last Friday, I got my booster vaccine shot. I was eligible for the booster because: a) it had been over six months since I got my second shot and b) my body mass index is such that I was eligible for it.

I was originally caught a little off guard by the fact that the booster shots being given out at my vaccine site were Pfizer. I was caught off guard because I thought I had decided to get a Moderna booster shot (matching with the first two vaccine shots I got, which were Moderna), yet here I was, seeing that the booster shots they were giving were for the Pfizer vaccine.

However, while I was waiting on line, I did a little bit of research about mixing and matching vaccines so that your first two shots were from one vaccine but your booster was from another vaccine. I reminded myself that both the Food and Drug Administration[1] and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[2] allow for this mixing and matching–meaning that it is safe to mix and match as I ended up doing (getting the first two shots from the Moderna vaccine and my booster from the Pfizer vaccine). Upon this bit of research, I felt at ease, and realized that I was just fine getting my booster from the Pfizer vaccine, even though my first two shots were from the Moderna vaccine.

So, I got my booster shot, and interestingly, the side effects as a whole weren’t quite as bad as they were after I got my second Moderna shot last April. I ran a fever that approached 100F, had an absolutely pounding headache for a good portion of the day last Saturday, fatigue, a moderately sore arm, and a loss of appetite. In contrast, with my second shot in late April, all these side effects I had last weekend were as bad or worse, and additionally I had chills (something that I didn’t have last weekend). Still, I would take the side effects of the booster and the second shot combined over not taking a vaccine and getting the virus.

What I hope I’m conveying in tonight’s post is that: a) getting a booster is safe and b) mixing and matching for your booster is also safe. I could be wrong, but the fact that you can mix and match is just oh so important in places where there’s only one particular type of vaccine that people have easy access to, and that type is different from what they had access to for their first two shots.

So, I hope that people get their booster shots when they are eligible! With COVID on the rise in many parts of the United States again, we want to give ourselves as much protection from the virus as we possibly could, and the booster is something that can help protect us from the virus.

So, that is it for now. I wanted to focus on my experiences with getting the vaccine booster shot. I hope others share their experiences of getting the booster.

Also, as a little side note, I do not plan on publishing a Coronavirus update post next Thursday, which is Thanksgiving. In fact, I don’t plan on publishing any posts during the week of Thanksgiving so that I can give myself a little rest. And when I get back to publishing blog posts after Thanksgiving, I’m planning to do my COVID update posts at a rate of about once a month, instead of once a week, since there isn’t a lot of news for me to report on locally or personally on the pandemic front.


[1] https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-takes-additional-actions-use-booster-dose-covid-19-vaccines

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p1021-covid-booster.html

Coronavirus Update From New York City: November 4, 2021

I hope all of my readers are healthy and safe, regardless of where you are living. I also wish a Happy Diwali to all who celebrate it.

In personal news, I have scheduled my appointment to get a vaccine booster shot. My second Moderna vaccine dose was in late April, so between how long it’s been since I got my second shot and the fact that I am overweight (or at least have a Body Mass Index high enough that I’m considered to be part of a population vulnerable to the pandemic), I was eligible to schedule an appointment to get a booster shot. I will get that booster shot on Friday, November 12th. In the COVID update post following my booster shot on the 12th, I will report on how the booster shot experience went (including talk about any side effects I have).

Also on a personal note, I am getting back, slowly but surely, into the swing of doing certain things that I did before the pandemic, such as eating indoors at a restaurant (albeit at restaurants that are relatively empty inside and have good ventilation so as to minimize risk) and attending an indoor gathering with several people not in my COVID “bubble.” While the individual experiences have gone fine so far, I must say that oh boy–it is an adjustment mentally to start getting back into things that I did before the pandemic! My guess is that over time, I will find myself continuing to readjust to things that I did before the pandemic on a regular basis, even if the pandemic situation (with a low level of spread, and a low test positivity rate) in New York City is such that it is safe for me to ease my way back into some activities. All I can say to others in a similar place is to be patient with yourself.

The vaccine mandate for New York City workers is now in effect. And, for all the complaining about the mandate, it has been extremely successful in terms of getting more people vaccinated. The vaccination rates went from 58% to 77% with the fire department, 70% to 85% with the police department, and from 62% to 83% with the sanitation department over the span of a couple of weeks. Among the entire New York City workforce, the vaccination rate has increased by 14% over a span of 10 days.[1] At least in New York City, mandates get people vaccinated.

However, as one can tell by looking at the numbers I just cited, there is still a portion of workers in the aforementioned departments (as well as a few others) that are unvaccinated and are therefore on unpaid leave. In those agencies, there are concerns about staffing shortages. I remain optimistic that those concerns will be short-lived, because I believe that when the reality sets in and people realize that the mandates are not going away (a reality that may set in among some people when they end up missing their first paycheck for unpaid leave because they decided not to get a vaccine shot), I’m guessing that even more people will get a vaccine shot. We’ll see if I’m correct to be optimistic.

That’s pretty much it on my end. I will be interested to hear how others are doing, though!


[1] https://pix11.com/news/local-news/nycs-mandate-officially-enacted-agencies-see-uptick-in-vaccination-rates/

Coronavirus Update From New York City: May 6, 2021

Today’s COVID update post is somewhat less exciting than last week’s update post, for I do not have a vaccine (or its side effects) to report on. That being said, I am a few days away from having the maximum immunity built up (I took my second dose a week and a half ago), so having full immunity will be exciting.

There has been much talk about what someone can do if they are fully vaccinated. Given all the discussion on what a fully vaccinated person can do (or should do), and what a fully vaccinated person should still be cautious with, I’m going to get involved in that discussion by talking about how I plan to conduct myself once I am at maximum immunity starting in a few days. The goal of talking about how I plan to conduct myself once I have that immunity built up is to hopefully get others thinking about how they want to move forward when they are fully vaccinated.

How I plan to conduct myself, in terms of the activities I am willing to do, will depend on answers to several questions:

  1. What COVID-19 variants are around? Furthermore, are said variants deadly? And if said variants are deadly, how well do my Moderna shots protect me from getting those variants? If there are deadly variants around, I want to be sure that my Moderna shots protect me from getting said deadly variants. If I’m not sure whether the Moderna keeps me from contracting a deadly variant going around, then I would still act with some level of caution. To use a relevant example, unless there is information I have missed, there’s still more to learn about how well the vaccine responds to the deadly Indian variant, so I will want to act with a bit of caution (especially when it comes to the riskiest activities from a COVID standpoint, such as dining indoors and being in crowds indoors). According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Covaxin vaccine that’s being used in India is preliminarily showing promise against this variant,[1] but alas, the vaccine shot I got was not Covaxin but Moderna. One note I should add is that if we’re in a place where none of the variants are deadly and/or the Moderna vaccine is known to be effective against the most serious variants that are around, then I would be willing to engage in even the riskier activities (though I imagine there will be a mental barrier to get through on the first occasion that I, say, dine indoors for the first time since pre-COVID).
  2. How much community spread is there of the virus where I live, and how much community spread is there where I want to go? Even if I’m unsure how well my Moderna shot works against certain variants, if community spread of COVID-19 is pretty low, then I would feel safe with a wider variety of activities than if community spread were pretty high. In my case, I live in a county (Queens County) where the rate of infection is below 1.0,[2] which in layperson’s terms means that at the rate we’re going, we’re going at a rate to slow and hopefully eventually stop the spread of the disease.[3] As such, I might be willing to do somewhat more in terms of activities (especially given that I’m fully vaccinated) than I would even if I were vaccinated and community spread (particularly spread of variants with unknown effectiveness with the Moderna) were widespread.
  3. If we don’t know whether my Moderna shots react to a deadly variant going around, is the activity I’m thinking of an activity that’s relatively safe even if I were unvaccinated? We have a fair bit of data of which activities are safe or unsafe for even unvaccinated people, and the results may be surprising. For all that public transport has a reputation for being a germ factory, for example, there is no correlation found between riding subways and COVID-19 spread.[4] On the other hand, if you are indoors in a place with poor ventilation, having six feet of distance between yourself and someone else may not be enough.[5]

Before wrapping up my post, I should also note that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has its own chart on which activities are and are not safe for both fully vaccinated people and unvaccinated people.[6] My approach to COVID as a fully vaccinated person seems to be a little more cautious than what the CDC’s guidance lays out currently, but at the same time, the CDC’s guidance is worth noting because as I have said to my parents on multiple occasions, following their guidance has helped me get this far without catching COVID.

While I don’t know how much (if at all) my readers will agree with my guiding principles for what activities I do, post-vaccination, I hope that at least this post will get other people thinking about what they do after getting vaccinated. Overall, getting the vaccine is worth it to me because it protects us against so many troublesome variants, but I plan on acting with caution with certain activities until we learn more about how the Moderna vaccine responds against other troublesome variants; notably, the Indian variant.


[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2021/04/27/press-briefing-by-white-house-covid-19-response-team-and-public-health-officials-32/

[2] https://covidestim.org/us/NY/36081

[3] You may’ve heard that in certain places, the rate of infection is “below 1.0” or “above 1.0.” Here, you can find an explanation of what these numbers mean: https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/12-best-covid-19-prevention-strategies

[4] https://gothamist.com/news/new-study-finds-no-direct-link-between-subway-covid-19-spread

[5] https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/6-feet-may-not-always-be-enough-distance-protect-covid-n1238083

[6] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/participate-in-activities.html

Coronavirus Update From New York City: April 29, 2021 (Second Vaccine Shot Edition)

A picture of me after I got my second Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shot

As readers can tell by the title of tonight’s COVID update blog post, I have now received my second and final shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine!

I got the shot last Sunday, April 25th.

The directions for heading into the facility for my second shot could’ve been better, as a number of us were confused as to where exactly we should be going. However, once I got into the facility that was doing the vaccinations, it was a pretty quick and smooth process to get from check-ins to the vaccination, and from the vaccination to post-vaccination monitoring.

As for side effects, they were more severe after the second dose than after the first dose–something which is apparently the case for many people. After my first dose, I just had a sore arm for a short period of time. After my second dose, I started with a sore arm. However, on the night after I received my vaccine shot (night of the 25th/morning of the 26th), I woke up to my shivering. I had chills. In addition to chills and the sore arm, I ultimately had the following side effects:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite (which for me often comes with having fatigue and/or a headache, so it’s hard for me to say whether this was an actual side effect or the result of other side effects)
  • Fever (at one point, a fever of 100.5)

Such side effects are apparently not unusual, for many people report having low-grade COVID symptoms after their second vaccine dose (with both Pfizer and Moderna) for anywhere between one day and few days. In my case, the most severe side effects lasted for 24 hours (with only a little bit of arm soreness after I recovered from other side effects). However, each person’s body is different, and as such, each person’s reaction to their second vaccine dose is going to be different. Regardless, if you feel unwell for a day or two or even three, don’t panic. If you still feel unwell even after a few days have passed, I would recommend calling a doctor.

Obviously, in terms of side effects, you want to hope for the best. Still, if you want to “prepare for the worst” (which is nothing compared to actually having COVID), those who are taking their second vaccine doses should be prepared to:

  • Potentially feel unwell for somewhere between one day and a few days
  • Drink lots of water if you feel unwell (a special shoutout to the friends of mine who told me the same thing)
  • Rely on the help of others for a day to a few days (or, if you have nobody else to rely on, prepared to not do much for a day to a few days if at all possible)
  • Use sick leave at work, if your job has such a thing as sick leave

For all that I’ve talked about my side effects from the second Moderna shot in this post, I should emphasize that I have zero regrets about getting the second shot. If I had to make the same decision all over again about whether to get a second shot, I would get my second shot without the slightest bit of hesitation. Likewise, I would urge others to not be hesitant about getting that second shot, even with stories of side effects from people like me. For one thing, the science says that you need both vaccine shots of the Pfizer and Moderna in order to have maximum protection, so while some are foregoing their second shots because they believe they have adequate protection from COVID, the science simply does not match up with that belief.[1] For another thing, while one can experience side effects from the second vaccine shot, the side effects are child’s play compared to actually getting symptoms of the virus–a virus that has killed nearly 3.2 million people worldwide as of the time of my writing this post. As such, I beg those who are hesitant about having a second vaccine dose to keep things in perspective, and remember that having COVID (or putting yourself at risk for having COVID through not being fully vaccinated) is much riskier than having a COVID vaccine (even the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a single-shot vaccine and has had blood clot issues reported with a tiny number of vaccine recipients).

I know that my paragraph above was rather lengthy, but given that apparently close to 8% of people in America who’ve received their first shots of the Pfizer and Moderna not receiving their second doses, I want to do my part in addressing the hesitancy that seems to exist with regards to getting a second shot (a lot of which seems to center around concerns about side effects as well as the belief one is protected). A lot of the talk around vaccine hesitancy is centered around getting a shot to begin with, but there’s also hesitancy around getting a second shot–hesitancy that I think those of us who have received our second shots have a moral obligation to address as best as possible.

If other readers have received their second shots of the Pfizer or Moderna, or received their single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, please let me know if there’s anything to add beyond what I covered in this post!


[1] https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/04/millions-of-americans-are-skipping-their-second-covid-shot.html

Coronavirus Update From New York City: April 1, 2021

Me after I got my first vaccine shot. This is not the best photo of me in the world, but in my defense, it was misty and windy, plus my glasses were fogged up.

Like with last week’s COVID Diary blog post, I have some big news to share!

The big news this week is that I have received my first COVID vaccine shot.

Literally the morning after I published my previous COVID update post, I was able to secure an appointment to receive my first shot of the Moderna vaccine. That appointment happened last Sunday.

Side effects were overall relatively minimal. My arm felt rather sore last Sunday evening and Sunday night, and felt a little sore last Monday. All that being said, the side effects of the first Moderna shot don’t seem any worse than side effects from many flu shots I’ve had over the years. That being said, I’ve heard that side effects from the second Moderna shot can sometimes leave someone feeling sick for a couple of days. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it though (a bridge I’ll get to on Sunday, April 25th, when I’m scheduled for my second vaccine shot).

Speaking of vaccines, vaccine eligibility is rapidly expanding in New York, to the point that everyone sixteen and older should be eligible for COVID vaccines by next week. Even if I weren’t obese, I’d be becoming eligible soon anyway. However, since I am obese, I was able to get the vaccine at least a couple of weeks before when I would have otherwise received it.

My younger brother is no longer in quarantine at college. He reported to me that the quarantine experience was not as bad as he had feared (I think he was expecting to be completely stuck in his room for a week). More importantly, though, he remains healthy.

The news in my neighborhood, on the other hand, is not quite as good. The test positivity rate is is up above 10% again, to 10.2%. Test positivity seem to have been see-sawing around 10% for the past few weeks–sometimes just above that mark, sometimes just below that mark.

In terms of my travel plans for Easter…I have none. I’m not fully vaccinated, and even if I were fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States is still recommending against domestic and international travel. I figure that the CDC has taken me this far without getting COVID (or at least COVID symptoms), so I’m not going to stop following their advice now.

That’s my update for this week. I hope others are well and safe, and I wish my readers a Happy Easter, or Passover, or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate!