The last you heard from me, the COVID-19 vaccine injection site on my right arm was red, hot, raised, itchy, and just overall uncomfortable. I haven't heard of a lot of people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who suffered side effects like me (chills, fever, body aches, headache, and of course, COVID arm). That's why I feel like it's important for me to share what happened to me. Here's what I tried, what worked, and what didn't work to remedy my unhappy COVID arm.
I read that hydrocortisone helped some people with the itchiness. Since I'm always getting bitten by mosquitoes, I usually keep some in the first aid kit. Luckily, the Cortizone 10 I had didn't expire until this September so I slathered it on my arm.
It felt less itchy. For about 10 seconds. Then, it was maybe even more itchy! Fail.
I've stocked up on compresses because of my million bouts of mastitis in the past eight months. Anyway, I read that warm compresses have helped people who've experienced pain at the injection site so I tried it. And omg it made the pain worse. Warm compresses did not work for me!
With my aforementioned abundance of compresses, I decided to try a cold compress. And hallelujah it made my arm feel much better, nice, cool, and comforting. The warmth of my arm turned the cold compress warm in 10 minutes but it was better than nothing.
I was complaining about how my arm was so itchy and a friend suggested that aloe gel could help. I had a container of aloe that I bought in hopes of making DIY hand sanitizer during the pandemic but it never came to that. So I slathered the aloe on my COVID arm and it was soothing. This time for 10 minutes or so. Longer than the Cortizone. But I didn't know if it was worth continuously applying the aloe gel. But the success of the cold compress and the aloe gell gave me an idea. . .
(Generic) Benadryl with aloe cooling spray
Finally! Something that actually soothed the pain and itchiness for more than 10 minutes! Once the icy spray hit my arm, it felt locked in and fricking amazing. I only had to apply it once in the morning and once before bed! After two days of using the cooling spray, most of the redness, pain, and itchiness went away.
So I got my Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination on Monday, March 22. I bought and started using the cooling spray on Friday, March 26. By Sunday, March 28, most worst symptoms of my COVID arm were gone. Today, on March 31, the injection site on my arm is still a little raised and sensitive to the touch, but all the pain, redness, and itching are gone.
On the news, I saw that they estimated 0.5% of people who got the Moderna vaccine had a COVID arm reaction. They're not even reporting on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine so I hope this is helpful to anyone out there who's experiencing these scary symptoms after their shot. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.
If I had the choice to either get or not get the shot, I would still without a doubt get the COVID vaccine, even though the side effects were unpleasant. Because I know it's nothing compared to getting the coronavirus.
One of the best parts of my job is being able to write about my awesome friends and their amazing accomplishments for Island Scene magazine. I recently interviewed two former colleagues and dear friends, Junie Hayashi, of Leeward Community College, and Lisa Katagiri Bright, of Kapiolani Community College.
The article is about working professionals who decide to change their jobs mid-career. It's inspiring how Junie and Lisa were brave enough to believe in themselves.
Here's the online version of the article, Work It. If you'd like to see what the article looked like in the magazine, you can download the pdf by going to Island Scene Online archives and selecting Summer 2019.
Here's a screen cap of the first page of Work It so you know what to look for.
You can see Junie as the best librarian, ever!
Also, if you're an HMSA member and have an interesting idea for a story, I'd love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below. Mahalo! CT.