April Ryan opens up about vaccine journey in personal diary

theGrio's White House correspondent recalled her experience taking the coronavirus vaccine in a day-by-day, personal journal

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My journey began when I received a phone number from a friend to call for one of the shots administered at the large-scale vaccine sites in my area. I qualified for the COVID-19 vaccine through eligibility granted to certain media.  

After I made the call, I got an appointment scheduled for two weeks later on March 4 at M&T Bank Stadium. While I was originally told by the vaccine hotline operator that I was receiving the double dose Pfizer shot, I ended up getting a single dose of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine in my left arm.   

Before I decided to take the vaccine, I was part of the large swath of America saying I will wait. I was specifically one of those in the Black community who felt uncertain. 

My fears over the vaccination lessened with each passing day and week, watching friends and family in the health care and education industries take the vaccine.  

In January, I was also in attendance when Vice President Kamala Harris received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine at a hospital in Washington’s predominately Black, Southeast quadrant. 

No one became sick, so I moved on with the process to get vaccinated.

I grew up understanding all too well about the history of Black Americans and medical research, but after watching millions of people take the vaccine and fare well, I felt comfortable taking it.

I’m sharing my journey on accessing the vaccine and the side effects that I experienced because I want the public to be armed with as much information as possible to make their own decisions. For me, it was life or death. I am not getting paid for this journal. This my personal journey that I have decided to make public. 

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Thursday: Vaccination Appointment @ 10:45 a.m. 

I got there early at 10:25 a.m. I sat down and got the shot at 11:20 a.m., and sat for observation until 11:35 a.m. 

I picked up lunch immediately following the vaccination. I felt very good.

I drove home and ate lunch around 1 p.m. 

Around 3 p.m., I became tired and went to bed. I started to shake a bit, like when you wake up too early and you are tired. So far so good.

At 5:21 p.m., I went to the bathroom and then returned to bed. My arm still was not hurting, it just a slight bit sore.  I coughed a little but was still okay.

I noticed a cough when I tried to sleep, but there was a slight dryness in the back of my throat and in my mouth.

I drank some water.

At 6:45 pm, I became achy.

By 7 p.m., I began to experience fever chills, body aches and coughing. I didn’t want to get up or do anything — not make dinner, not anything. I also started to get a headache.

This July 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a vial of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

Friday: One Day After Vaccination

I opened my eyes around 8:10 a.m. after sleeping hard that night. I had vivid dreams, which was something to note as I don’t normally dream in my sleep. My kids said I was also muttering in my sleep. My doctor attributes this and my night sweats to a fever.

Fatigue kept me in the bed all day, and then Friday afternoon around 4 p.m., I got up to do a pre-scheduled Zoom conversation. I did not feel like myself, but I was able to address questions and issues. People could not tell I wasn’t feeling well based on my appearance. 

After the session, I went back to bed from fatigue and had a few aches and chills, as well as a headache. 

Saturday: Two Days After Vaccination

I woke up around 8 a.m. on Saturday after sleeping with night sweats, light headaches and body aches.

Saturday afternoon at 2:52 p.m., I worked on trying to get back to my normal, very active and mobile self. However, I would consider the state I was in “vaccination delirium,” meaning I was not myself. I felt like I was in a fog. 

If I had not had the vaccine, I would say I was experiencing flu-like symptoms or a stomach virus. My children continued to remind me I was not sick and that it was just the side effects of the vaccine.  

Later that day, I joined a White House call on voting rights from bed and wrote a story from this place of comfort as well. I was tired. According to the side effects chart, I was fatigued.

Syringes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit in a tray in a vaccination room at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Sunday: Three Days After Vaccination

Sunday, I stayed in bed with fatigue and wrote a bit on my tablet. I got up at 2 p.m. for an interview with CNN. I was coherent and focused, but did not feel myself. The producers and viewers would not have known I was feeling the side effects of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine during my segment on Bloody Sunday and John Lewis

Later on, I tried to stand up and cook dinner for my family, but got dizzy, nauseous and had stomach pains. It was as If I had a stomach virus. I became gaseous after I drank a can of ginger ale. It was not a normal feeling, nor release of my stomach contents. 

I went back to bed.

Monday: Four Days After Vaccination

I opened my eyes on Monday and was still fatigued and irritable. I was tired and did not want to do anything let alone a Zoom call or write a story.  I wanted to go back to bed. 

I worked a few hours and went to bed at 4 p.m. 

From Thursday to Monday, I did not feel like myself and I did not trust myself to drive a car, since I was not able to stay up for too long.

The rapid speed of coronavirus vaccines’ development is adding to the equally-fast spread of misinformation about them on social media. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

Conclusions

During this post vaccination period of study I had night sweats, chills, fever, aches, dry mouth, vivid dreams and gaseous stomach aches.

Monday, I worked and knocked off around 7 p.m. This was the day I stayed up the longest from 6 a.m. straight through the day. I worked as I normally did but was sleepy. I mild night sweats that morning when I woke up.

Tuesday, woke up with slight night sweats and appetite, worked all day doing normal duties and could not wait to go to bed for the night around 8 p.m.

Each day I have been drinking lots of water.

Wednesday, my appetite came back, although I still had dry mouth. I still am fatigued — that is the overwhelming symptom my doctor says will remain for about a week’s time.

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