My first vaccine appointment took approximately three hours, and I spent the next 24 hours with just some slight soreness in my arm. My second appointment was very different, and I’m here to tell you about it!

After waiting in line for three hours at my first vaccine appointment at the Javits Center, I was honestly dreading going back for the second dose. Though I was excited to be fully vaccinated, my sore feet and the long lines of my first experience had yet to leave my mind. I prepared the same way I had for my first appointment: I wore comfortable clothes and sneakers, brought water and snacks, and prepared for a long few hours. When I pulled up to the Javits Center, however, I was met with a very different sight.

The Javits Center was almost empty, and I nearly laughed when the security guard told me I could head right inside instead of walking around the block to the end of a line. Before I knew it, I was sitting down at a table with a volunteer to check in and go over some basic questions. After that, I was led to the final line where I would wait to actually get the shot. All of this happened in about ten minutes, which was a pretty big difference from the approximately two hours it had taken me to get to this point during my first appointment.

I waited in the second line for about ten more minutes before I was seated at a table with the healthcare worker who would be delivering my vaccine. She needed some new supplies, so we chatted while we waited for one of the National Guard members to replenish the table. When I told her how different this experience was from my first vaccine appointment, she told me that those long lines had actually been an outlier in the Javits Center’s operation, and most days actually looked more like the quick process I was seeing today. She told me that the more relaxed I was, the less painful the shot would be, so we took some deep breaths together to loosen my muscles. The healthcare worker also warned me that the side effects for the second dose would likely be more intense than those for the first dose, but staying hydrated could help ease the symptoms.

As soon as I walked to the observation area to wait out my 15 minutes, I became focused on drinking as much water as I possibly could. For the rest of the day, I experienced a bit of soreness in my arm and some tiredness, but I generally felt perfectly fine. About 12 hours after the shot, however, I started to notice more aching, fatigue, and chills. This was about 5 am, and I knew that I had a fever almost as soon as I woke up. The fever lasted on and off for the rest of the day, and I took Tylenol to help with some of the symptoms. In addition to the fever, there was some very mild soreness in my arm, and I had a really intense headache throughout the day (although it’s hard to say if this was a result of the vaccine or just a random headache). I tried to stay as hydrated as possible and spent the day resting and napping.

Though 24 hours of fever and chills isn’t exactly how I would choose to spend a day, it has been helpful to remember that I am doing my part to protect others from COVID-19 by dealing with the short-term side effects and symptoms of the vaccine. I have also enjoyed picturing a little army inside my body preparing for battle, but that might be more of a personal thing than good advice. I would still absolutely recommend getting your vaccine at the Javits Center if you have the opportunity to do so, especially now that it seems like they have spread out their appointments and increased their staff, leading to lower wait times!

Javits Center Photo via Flickr