WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Most people are not reporting side effects after receiving the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. However, the second dose has been a different story.
That's why WPTV sought to find people from our five-county area who were one shot away from completing their vaccination card. They all agreed to share their symptoms for 24 hours after receiving the second dose.
Seven people, men and women, of all ages from different parts of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast shared their experience crossing what can be seen as a COVID-19 finish line, becoming fully vaccinated.
"I just got my second Pfizer shot. I'm ready to live," said Mike Willens, 57, who lives in the Wellington area. "It sounds silly, but I really was like 'OK, it's Christmas morning, I'm finally getting this done.'"
Being vaccinated means life is no longer on hold.
"A couple of weeks now after the kids all get their second shots, which they're scheduled for, I’m still going to wear my mask. I'm still going to do all the right things, but our confidence level is just going to be so much higher where we've actually started talking about maybe we can take a trip somewhere down the road," Willens said. "Those are the kinds of things that get us excited. Like now, there's something to look forward to."
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In Delray Beach, David Urban, 59, experiencing a similar euphoria.
"A great sense of mental relief," said Urban, who received his second shot of the Moderna vaccine.
It was a weight lifted off his shoulders because now he can be around his mother again.
"My mom, her official 90th birthday is July 1, and my 60th birthday is July 6. It was always my intent to celebrate this big milestone together," Urban said.
Pastor Valentin Fontanez feels he's leading by example by standing at his Palm Springs church pulpit fully vaccinated now and reminding the families he preaches to what it's taken to get here.
"Many people have died on us, family members, friends, who were with us one moment, and now they are gone," Fontanez said in Spanish.
Every reason for reaching the COVID-19 finish line is different for them and yet the same to move forward.
"I just had my second dose of Pfizer, so far I feel pretty good," said Robin Kolodny of Boynton Beach.
"I'm feeling great. no soreness, no side effects," said Teresa Lane, 58, of Port St. Lucie.
"This is my second shot. I am finished," said 55-year-old Ashton Irons.
The clock starts right after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The next 24 hours was a marathon for some and an easy run for others.
Lane checked in six hours after her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
"I'm still feeling great, no side effects at all," she said.
Ten hours later she was still feeling good.
"The only side effect I have is a sore arm," Lane said.
But at the tenth-hour mark, after his second Pfizer shot, Willens' reaction was different from what Lane experienced.
"I'm a little bit achy, have a little bit of a headache, a minor headache that comes and goes, and the injection site is pretty sore," Willens said.
His symptoms worsened overnight and into the 24th hour after the shot.
"I definitely feel worse, I had a rough night of sleep because every time I would move, my bones would ache and my joints would ache. I still had a headache," Willens added.
Kolodny, who is in the 50 and up age group, also received the Pfizer vaccine. She said she felt no symptoms just like when she was asymptomatic with a COVID-19 infection back in January.
"It's been over 12 hours. It's been 15.5 hours, and I feel fine," Kolodny said.
For Jamie Loren, Urban, Irons and Pastor Fontanez, all who received the second dose of Moderna, the effects also varied.
"No complications. My arm is a little sore," said Irons about eight hours after his shot.
"It’s been 12 hours since my second shot, and I'm still feeling good other than a sore arm," Loren said.
Loren, 35, from Boca Raton said she heard about taking Emergen-C, a vitamin supplement, a few days before the second Moderna shot, so she tried it.
She said it's hard to say whether that made a difference or not, but her husband, who is just one year apart from her in age, also got his second Moderna shot and chose not to take the supplement.
"He's got everything. He's got almost 103 fever. He's got chills, body aches, everything," Loren said.
Urban started experiencing symptoms about four hours after the second Moderna dose.
"Right now, I feel more fatigued than anything else. Last night I felt mild flu-like symptoms, so I thought, 'OK. I'm going to have a little something.' But in the middle of the night, I woke up and my body ... I felt like I got hit by train for a little while," Urban said.
Twelve hours after Fontanez received his second Moderna shot, he said he was feeling fine. Nearly 24 hours after his shot, the 56-year-old said he had body aches.
All the recipients said they experienced little to no side effects after their first shots, which is quite different than what a participant in the two-dose Johnson & Johnson trial said.
"I had gotten the first shot and I was really sick. I ended up having a fever over 101 plus the chills, a headache. I didn't really get nauseous, but my stomach wasn't 100 percent," said Shari Gordon, 53, of Highland Beach.
Gordon said 50 to 70 days later she got the booster shot for J&J.
"Nothing, no symptoms whatsoever," Gordon said.
Some experience fever, chills, fatigue, exhaustion, and for others sometimes a sore arm is the worst of the antibody-building process. But there is a common feeling shared by all who cross this finish line.
"It's just a very good feeling to know that I'm well on my way to full immunity," Lane said.
"Mental relief, mental relief, let me tell you," Urban said.
"More anxiety, waiting till the buildup, and now it’s done," Irons said.
After 24 hours, those who did experience symptoms said they were gone and on their way to recovery.
"I feel like for us it's a little bit of a relief to feel a little normal again," Loren said.
"I feel somewhat relieved. Of course, I'm going to wear a mask. I'm going to be cautious as had been advised, but I'm not just going to stay locked up," added Kolodny.
They didn't win a medal, but they do have a certificate of completion that they feel opens the door to new possibilities.