A nursing student’s experience with the COVID-19 vaccine

After a day of feeling fatigued following the jab, Dawn felt well enough to go bouldering the next day.

Shannon Kuan

Weird talents include playing the violin, but with a ukulele and a clothes hanger.

Published: 8 March 2021, 11:19 AM

Despite the release of COVID-19 vaccine, there are still some wondering if the vaccination is truly safe.

The possibility of something going amiss when taking the vaccine are holding some back – which in turn will prevent COVID-19 restrictions from being lifted and delay the return to “normal” life. 

For Dawn How, a 20-year-old nursing student from National University of Singapore (NUS) who took the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year, the benefits that comes with the vaccine outweighs the risk of the side effects. She shared with Youthopia about her experience taking the vaccine.


Vaccines introduce a dead or disabled antigen into the body so the immune system can produce antibodies against it and create immunity to the disease. PHOTO CREDIT: NATALIYA VAITKEVICH VIA PEXELS


“All nursing students have to take the (Covid-19) vaccine before clinicals, which happens between May and June. Because all healthcare students eventually need to take the vaccine, I decided to take it early,” Dawn said.

Her first first jab was on Jan 25, while her second jab was on Feb 15. 

The process of getting the vaccine didn’t take long for Dawn. She had to show her identification card, proof of booking and legal guardian consent, before the jab, which was done in a matter of seconds.

Dawn said: “The shot was a one out of ten on the pain scale, it just felt like a little pinch!”

But Dawn had to wait about half an hour after the injection, to see if she had any adverse reactions to the vaccine, such as possible allergic reactions to certain ingredients used.

Thankfully, there were no negative reactions and Dawn was sent home to rest. But the common side effects soon came. 

“Surprisingly, I didn’t have it as bad as other people did. Some would be down with a fever but I wasn’t. However, I did feel fatigue, had headaches, my arm was sore from the jab and I had a stuffy nose and kept sneezing.

“But then again, I usually have sinus so I can’t tell if the last one was a side effect from the vaccine or not,” Dawn shared.


These reactions do not mean that the vaccine weakens the immune system, but instead indicates that the vaccine is working. PHOTO CREDIT: ANDREA PIACQUADIO VIA PEXELS


It took her about a day to recover. While some have shown worse symptoms from the second shot of the vaccine as compared to the first, Dawn faced no side effects on her second jab.

“On the first day of my first (vaccine) shot, I couldn’t really do much. I stayed in bed all day and couldn’t study because I felt fatigued.

“But a day right after my second dose, all I felt was just arm soreness so I went bouldering!” Dawn laughed.

Overall, Dawn had no regrets and was glad she had the opportunity to be one of the first few batches to receive the vaccine.

She said: “It’s always good to be better safe than sorry. Vaccines count towards herd immunity and protect those who cannot get the vaccine themselves.

The side effects also don’t outweigh anything as it’s long term benefit over short term cost. We have medicine that helps with (side effects such as) fever and headaches anyway!”


Of course, getting the COVID-19 vaccine does not mean that you no longer have to wear a mask. PHOTO CREDIT: COTTONBRO VIA PEXELS


While some may feel hesitant due to the uncertainties of a new vaccine and it’s side effects, Dawn’s personal experience helps her believe that the vaccine is completely safe.

“I understand that a lot of people may be apprehensive about injecting foreign stuff into your body, but we do it all the time with new food and stuff… there’s foregin things in us all the time!

“The (COVID-19) vaccine will help us progress back to a normal society faster. As almost everyone wants to meet in large groups again, the more people get the vaccine, the faster this will happen.”

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