Sixteen and Over: Teen Experiences with Pfizer

Lucy Samuels, Staff Writer

As vaccines roll out, teenagers ages 16+ are now eligible to receive a shot administered by Pfizer: considering everything teenagers have had to endure during this pandemic, the threat of contracting sickness can hopefully be lifted from their shoulders. 

Although the Pfizer vaccine includes two separate doses, students are already feeling reassured by the administration of their first dose. 

“For now, I can say I am relieved,” said Denisse Isabel (‘22). “I have only gotten my first dose so far, but I definitely do feel a bit safer and more protected than before.”

 Despite the small price one might have to pay with side effects, the vaccine is here to protect populations from the virus. Ray Garcia (‘21) relays their anxiety of getting the vaccine and the side effects that followed.

“I take like 10 pills a day for my epilepsy and mental illness, so I was worried that the vaccine might interfere with my immune system because of all the medication that I’m on,” said Garcia. “But I’ve had it for a while now and I don’t see any bad things about it. I don’t see any sort of side effects. But then, the next day my arm did start hurting for a couple hours, but that’s about it. I mean, other people got sick and they just got a cold or something but I didn’t feel sick at all.”

A fear of needles also plays a factor for the millions of Americans who steer clear of the vaccine. NBC News explains how an extensive fear of needles, known as trypanophobia, is a significant reason as to why some Americans are not getting vaccinated.

“Really, my biggest concern was the soreness that comes after getting the vaccine,” said Isabel. “I’ve never liked getting vaccines for that sole reason, and needles make me a bit nervous sometimes, but other than that, nothing really worried me—not even the side effects that I could have gotten. I had seen some really encouraging messages about many people getting the vaccine around social media quite a bit, especially Instagram, so it helped me loosen up about it a bit.” 

Outside information, especially social media, has helped students like Isabel who might not have gotten the vaccine without some reassurance. However, not all posts surrounding the vaccine are encouraging. 

“A lot of it’s propaganda so I tend to double check things before I even look at them,” said Garcia. “Even if it’s from a verified website, I’d still want to get more opinions about it because everyone, especially on social media like Tik Tok, Instagram, [and] Facebook, can be sketchy. I try to fact check everything before I say it, or look into it, because I just don’t want to put any worry upon myself that just doesn’t need to be there. […] People [online] were saying that they got a seizure, and some people were like, ‘I got COVID from the vaccine!’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t think that’s how it works.’”

There are multiple ways to receive your vaccine, such as at a drug store clinic such as CVS or Walgreens, or a more sanctioned event where you receive a shot in a sort of drive through situation.

“I was excited to go and also we missed school, which is pretty nice. When we arrived there, it was pretty cool to see everyone, like they had a lot of national guard or reserve or something. Just everyone in their military uniform helping to facilitate it and it was like a drive thru and it was super fast. And then afterwards, it was just good to know that we also had our second vaccine scheduled for the three weeks after that,” said Megan Woo (‘21).

Finding a place to get the vaccine can be quick and easy as one can find information on the CDC website on how to secure an appointment. As for the main event, the actual shot itself, the first dose usually transpires smoothly.

“Yeah, it was pretty fast,” said Garcia. “He tried to talk me through it because I was a little anxious about the needle [since] I have a fear of needles. And I was like, ‘Okay, this is fine.’ And then it was over before I knew and I was like, ‘Oh, we’re done. Yeah, we’re done. If I had to rate the pain out of one to ten it would probably be like a four.”

As for the second vaccine, the symptoms could yield a more dire reaction than just a sore arm. Possible and common side-effects can be anything from a bruised arm to flu-like symptoms (nausea, chills, fever) but only for “a few days” (CDC).

“I felt pretty sick the second day. I was kind of dizzy and I definitely was just super tired. I just wanted to lay down and drink water, which I guess was the right thing to do. But yeah, I didn’t feel too great. But then the day after that was a lot better, so it didn’t last too long,” said Woo. “So it’s a given that I got a little sick, but it’s totally worth it.”

Meanwhile, Isabel has some advice for those who may be apprehensive about their shots. 

One thing that I would say would be that even if you’re nervous about how quick the vaccine was made, or afraid that it won’t work, trust me, it’s worth it,” said Isabel. “As soon as you receive it, you will feel so relieved and better about your nerves. You won’t even know you had it because the needle was so thin! Personally, I have gotten my first dose and am looking forward to my second.”