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One man’s vaccine experience in the battle to subdue COVID-19

Short-term pain for long-term gain: A small price to pay when you consider the alternative.

The number of Canadians who have received a COVID-19 vaccine is slowly increasing but it took a painfully long time to get there.

Slightly less than 30 per cent of Canadians have received one COVID-19 dose of a vaccine from Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca. Only 2.7 per cent, or 1,018,381 people, are fully vaccinated as of April 26.


Ottawa’s vaccine rollout was disastrous in January, February and part of March. We consistently ranked in the mid to high 50s among other countries, according to Our World In Data, which is managed by Oxford University and the Oxford Martin School. Canada even fell into the low 60s among nations for a period.

Our country was behind Belarus, El Salvador and Myanmar at one point and only fractionally ahead of the tiny Faeroe Islands.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government should have been embarrassed by this situation. For the most part, they weren’t. How predictable.

Things now appear to be heading in the right direction. It remains to be seen what happens with our vaccine supply. Canadian Press reported on April 26 that “the provinces and territories have used 87.96 per cent of their available vaccine supply.” More vaccines are reportedly on the way, so hopefully, there won’t be a shortfall at any point.

Meanwhile, more Canadians are getting their first dose of vaccine after the age limit for receiving AstraZeneca was lowered from 55 to 40 years. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recently recommended a further drop to 30 years, but this hasn’t been approved by any Canadian province or territory yet.

I benefited from this adjustment and received my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine last Wednesday. My wife followed two days later.

Since there are Canadians who are either concerned or scared to take this vaccine – or any vaccine – I’ll give you a brief description of what I experienced. It’s nothing terribly exciting, truth be told. But if it can help ease a few readers’ minds, it’s worth the effort.

Several people had warned me about potential side effects associated with AstraZeneca. I can confirm that most of them are valid.

For roughly 16 hours, I got just about everything associated with it – headache, fever, chills, loss of energy, pain in different parts of the body and so on. I slept less than three hours that night and resembled the walking dead. I took some extra-strength Tylenol the next morning, fell asleep for a couple of hours, woke up feeling much better, did some work, and carried on. I had a good night’s sleep on Thursday and was almost back to my old self. I had fully recovered by Friday morning.

That’s it. Short-term pain for long-term gain. A small price to pay when you consider the alternative.

Here’s the good news: Not everyone reacts to the COVID-19 vaccines in the same way.

Most people, for instance, haven’t had the blood clots associated with a minuscule number of AstraZeneca doses. Some have felt well after receiving Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, while others struggled for a day or two. There can be different reactions between the first and second doses of any vaccine, and others experience absolutely nothing on both occasions.

What’s causing this disparity?

The medical community has suggested some reasons, including physiology, previous medical conditions, age and slight differences in the vaccine makeup. In other words, what many people face with shots for the flu et al.

No one has any answers right now. Maybe we’ll never know.

How will you react?

The only way to find out is to do what the majority of Canadians will ultimately do in the next few months. They’ll get vaccinated, help move our country toward the slow, winding road to herd immunity (which could take several years) and whatever the ‘new normal’ turns out to be.

With luck and good fortune, the federal government – and all other levels of government – will keep us on that important path until we finally close this chapter on COVID-19.

Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.

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