Health Team

J&J vaccine may be one dose, but that doesn't mean fewer potential side-effects

Posted March 15, 2021 8:39 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2021 11:39 p.m. EDT

— The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is a single dose, compared with the two-dose regimens of vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. But fewer doses doesn't necessarily equate to fewer possible side-effects.

Kelley Keats and Annaliese Berkenstock both said they started feeling symptoms about eight hours after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“I woke up around midnight just violently shaking like shivering, like I was freezing. My teeth were chattering,” Keats said.

“I started getting really tired," Berkenstock said, "a tired I have never felt before.”

Berkenstock, who contracted COVID-19 in December, said she felt worse after the vaccination.

“When I had COVID, I just lost taste and smell and had a runny nose for a couple of days," she said. "This is just full body cramps, aches, sweating, headache, and I just feel very clouded.”

Keats said she also experienced excessive sweating, adding that she felt almost back to normal by the next morning.

“It was basically like having a virus condensed into a six-hour period," she said. "It was really intense for those six hours and then totally fine.”

Dr. Nicole Swiner, of Durham Family Medicine, said that, just because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose doesn’t mean the symptoms will be less severe than the two-dose vaccines.

“Your body is going to hurt because it’s fighting for you," Swiner said. "It’s actually a good thing. It’s showing that your immune system is strong in recognizing something bad and it’s building up antibodies. So, the next time – if and when you are exposed – it’ll fight it before you're affected.”

She recommended planning ahead and perhaps taking a day off of work after getting vaccinated or get vaccinated on a Friday to be able to rest throughout the weekend. She also said acetaminophen should help most people through any short-term symptoms.

Keats and Berkenstock both said the symptoms are worth the protection.

“I don’t think the symptoms are paralyzing me, and there’s a big benefit to getting the shot," Berkenstock said.

“The next morning, I was fine, and now I feel like life can start to get back to normal in the near future if everyone goes through this,” Keats said.

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