To Boost or Not To Boost, that is the question …

There is so much information in the news, in print, discussed online and seemingly everywhere else about the COVID vaccines, how many doses and when and now the possibility of a booster. The needle seems to move daily on what we know and what we don’t know since much of the monitoring of the efficacy of the three FDA approved vaccines is happening in real time. I’ve personally had to narrow the amount of outlets I monitor about the vaccines — at some point, it gets exhausting.

When I heard that the Pfizer vaccine (the one I received) booster was recommended for those who are immunocompromised 6-8 months after receiving the second shot, I contacted my doctor to get her input. She shared with me much of the information that I’d read and added her own evaluation, which was for me to get it with the adjustments to my medication that I’d done for the first and second shot. You can read about my experiences with the first and second shots, where I went into much more detail about those adjustments to the schedule of the medication that reduces my white blood cell count, Kisquali.

And so, off I went to a local retail pharmacy to get my booster shot since my cancer center doesn’t have them as of yet. I was armed with the boxes of the medication that reduces my immune system and a doctor’s note that clearly demonstrates my diagnosis of Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) from 2017 along with a copy of the report of a recent PET scan in case they questioned whether the diagnosis was ongoing. When I called ahead to find out what I needed to show that I qualified to get the booster, I’d gotten several different answers, so I figured I’d better be over-prepared.

In the end, all I had to do was sign a piece of paper certifying that I qualified for the booster and no one looked at all my proof. To be honest, I was a little surprised that they didn’t want to verify, but I didn’t spend any time or energy arguing with them about that. I went first thing in the morning (literally got there before the pharmacy opened) so that there were few people around and I was able to get in right away to get my shot.

I waiting the requisite 15 minutes to ensure that I didn’t have a concerning reaction immediately and then I went off on my way. That first day, I didn’t experience any side effects outside of a rather sore arm. As with the first two shots, the pharmacy technician pushed the needle deep into the tissue of my muscle and because I had lymph nodes removed from my left side, I have to use my dominate right arm.

Not to scare anyone, but my experience the booster was the worst of the three shots. I ran a fever for nearly a week, mostly low grade, I had headaches, body aches, and really significant fatigue. The first few days really wiped me out and some of the malaise had lingered.

Rather than bemoaning my experiences, I’m actually really happy that my body reacted to the third shot so strongly. I am much more confident that my immune system is up to to task of dealing with a COVID exposure. I’m in Florida, where the delta variant is surging way too much for anyone’s comfort and my elementary school aged boys aren’t old enough to get vaccinated yet. Just doing normal life stuff puts me and them at risk. Anything that can reduce the risk of dealing with COVID or side effects of COVID is a necessity.

I’m thankful for science and for the ability to protect myself a little more with this booster shot. As referenced above, I didn’t get the shot until my main cancer doctor, my medical oncologist, was on board. If you are considering getting the shot, I’d strongly recommend that you follow the advice of your medical team!

17 thoughts on “To Boost or Not To Boost, that is the question …

  1. Glad you received the booster Abigail but sorry you had a week of downtime with the side effects.
    Those sounded really debilitating! Praying you feel stronger every day:)

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  2. Thanks for describing your booster experience. Another friend of mine got the booster and she had a similar experience and it did concern her. I’m letting her know what you said as reassurance. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I got my third shot at the end of August. The CDC said I could and I met people who are also immunocompromised and they had antigen tests that showed they had no benefit
    But after the third shot, they were much better. Today I’m at a writers conference. We are required to wear masks . But the question everyone asks after a greeting is “have you had the third shot?”

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  4. I’m sorry the 3rd shot made you so sick, but maybe like you said, maybe that’s good. It means your immune system is working. My wife and I didn’t have any reactions to the the first or second shot, other than a bit of a sore arm and feeling a bit sleepy. There are talks of a 3rd shot in Canada, but not until the new year. But once offered, we will be signed up.

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  5. Hi Abigail ,
    I got my third shot of moderna this week ( Monday ). Had high fever., chills , he ache and extra fatigue as well . It’s the third day and I still feel wiped . Hope I’ve got some immunity now .

    I read your blog and want to give you a hug ! I’ve had MBC for 7 years now . Been on a lot of treatments , miss friends from the LBBC conferences . Your. Wry brave . I may need to have rod surgery as well . Not looking forward to the recovery since I had a sacrum fracture that was quite a long recovery period . Glad to still have contacts on some committees. Glad you are blogging . I’ll be following and rooting g for you !!

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  6. My pharmacist called me the day they approved it and said to get in there and get it. 😂 I was texting with one doctor and emailing with another until I got consensus since I had just started infusions of the ONE immunosuppressant they say interferes with the vaccine. Thankfully it had a warning if you’d been on it for two weeks and I had only been for one, so I got a green light.

    I didn’t have a reaction the third time so I had the opposite reaction as you in worrying that one didn’t work. So I’ll pray the first two did since I had the reaction you did for my second (week long fever and all). And maybe the third will, too. 🤷🏽‍♀️ It’s all we can do when they tell us immunosuppressed people often have little to no antibodies and to act as if we aren’t vaccinated. 😢

    Glad you were able to get it! I continue praying for us and all similarly situated people. We have enough to deal with not even including Covid! 🙏🏽❤️🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So do I! Because we have no choice other than to be in public with our kids, and other people either don’t know or don’t care that some of us are still just as vulnerable as without the vaccine. I turned down as aisle after I had to go in person to the pharmacy bc I needed antibiotics FAST, and suddenly there were six people to go through. I turned around and went down another aisle. So many times I just look around me and go, “Nope,” and I dip out. *sigh* My kid is OVER the lysol spray and my always squiring purell in everyone’s hand as soon as we get into the car.

        I went to the pride parade this weekend and it was the FIRST time I didn’t wear a mask somewhere since 2020. We only really did the parade so we weren’t too close to people. We tried to go into the vendor part, but my anxiety kicked in and we left.

        Liked by 1 person

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