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Napa Journal: Is the second COVID shot a doozy?

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Kevin Courtney masked

In January I wrote about Cheryl suffering unpleasant side effects for 24 hours after getting her second Moderna vaccination.

Apparently, I described her symptoms so vividly that some readers canceled their shot appointments.

A physician chastised me for scaring off senior citizens who would benefit greatly from vaccination. A few chills and a day of lethargy are a small price to pay for not contracting COVID-19 and not risk dying, she said.

I agree, but here I go again. I’m going to share how things went with me after my second Moderna shot this month.

My anticipation was off the charts. As a senior in good health, I considered dual vaccinations essential to my remaining that way.

The Moderna vaccine has a reputation for a stronger kick the second time around — the word “doozy” is bandied about — so I alerted my editor that I might not feel up to coming to work the next day.

I wasn’t planning to scam the Register for a sick day. I was simply acknowledging the CDC’s list of possible side effects that could make sitting at a computer screen all day less than blissful.

After getting my shot mid-morning, I went back to work feeling slightly euphoric. I felt I’d won the vaccination lottery. When I texted Cheryl that my appointment had gone off without a hitch, she responded with celebratory emojis.

I continued feeling perfectly fine into the evening. Our after-work routines needed no adjustment. Arm soreness increased near bedtime, but nothing awful.

I tossed a bit more than usual that night. Near dawn, I dreamed that Cheryl had stripped our house down to the studs so as to better clean it.

This absurdity got me so worked up that I started sputtering in my sleep. Cheryl had to shake me back to reality.

Was that a Moderna-induced bad dream?

When my alarm went off, I crawled out of bed and did a self-assessment. Fever? No. Nausea? No. Headache? No. Chills? No? Muscle pain? Not really. Tiredness? Maybe.

Nothing seemed specifically wrong with me but I wasn’t my usual jackrabbit self at breakfast. Was this vaccination malaise?

To be safe, I called in sick. If not now, then when? Then went back to bed and slept for two hours fully clothed under the covers. A healthy me would NEVER do that.

Cheryl came home at mid-day to check on me. She thought it prudent to take my temp.

The result stunned her. You’re 101! she said.

Impossible, I said. In fact, I feel a little cold.

It seems she hadn’t shaken the mercury thermometer before putting it under my tongue. It still registered her max reading after her second Moderna shot.

No fever!

The rest of the day was uneventful. I wasn’t a complete husk of a man, just 80% of one. I felt good enough to read a family finances guides for several hours and contemplate life after COVID.

And that, folks, was about it. Slept great the second night (no dreams of housekeeping run amok) and awoke feeling normal. Actually, better than normal.

After a year of fretting about the COVID virus and living hunkered down, the gray clouds had parted. I felt I’d walked into the sunshine. I was among the 14% of county resident with full vaccine protection.

Not that it’s changed my routines. I still avoid crowds, masked or otherwise, but now it would take an unseemly amount of stranger intimacy to make me cringe.

My good fortune can be guilt-inducing. The majority of people who live more vulnerable lives than mine still haven’t been vaccinated.

I take comfort in the prospect that virtually every adult in the U.S. who’s receptive to vaccination should be equally protected by this summer.

Signing off for now.

Kevin “Two Shots” Courtney


Take a walk through Napa's Oxbow Public Market. Located in downtown Napa, the market features a wide variety of merchants and vendors.


Kevin can be reached at 707- 256-2217 or Napa Valley Register, 1615 Soscol Ave., Napa, 94559, or

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