This is part of a series that shares real stories of people who have decided to get a COVID-19 vaccine – how did they decide, what was it like and how are they feeling now?
For brothers Jackson and Parker Love and their mother Tracy Fiore-Love, vaccination was a family affair. All three went together to receive their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine in March, followed by their second in April.
Jackson, 16, and Parker, 18 and a recent high school graduate, are BlueCare members and athletes (Jackson a climber, Parker a soccer player). Tracy is a hairstylist. All three were eager to return to their normal way of life and close contact with friends and clients as soon as possible.
“I’m in a high-volume, close-contact business, and it would be awful if one of my clients or co-workers got sick,” Tracy says. “I have some high-risk family members, but kids and young people tend to think they’re bulletproof, which is one reason I’m so proud of my boys for doing this.”
Here’s what Jackson, Parker and Tracy shared about their decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine and their overall experience.
How we decided to get a vaccine
Jackson: I’m still in high school, so COVID has been disruptive for me. I wanted to get a vaccine because if it becomes more of an “everybody does it” thing, it would be a lot better for everybody all around. I said to myself, “Well, I don’t see what the downsides could be.”
Parker: I heard some of my friends were getting it, and I asked my mom, “Hey, are we planning to get the vaccine anytime soon?” I wanted to because it gave me a path to normal life again, and it looked like a good way out of this whole pandemic situation. And with graduation coming up, it was a good way to feel safe being in public again.
Tracy: I’m 50 and I have a history of asthma. Even though it’s well controlled now, I’m around so many people every day in my profession. So it was always my intention to get a vaccine as soon as my phase became available. We also wanted to protect my parents, as well as the community.
When we got our vaccines
Jackson: We went to the drive-thru location at the Riverwalk off Amnicola Highway in Chattanooga, and the entire thing took 30 minutes, max. They checked our paperwork, we got our shots. They told us to wait around for a couple of minutes to see if we had any negative side effects.
Parker: It was maybe 10 minutes of waiting in line, and then they stick you and then you go sit for 20 minutes.
Tracy: All of us were in the van at the same time, and so that was a little more paperwork to check all at once. We waited for 20 minutes after because one of my kids has a shellfish allergy. But it was quick and easy and relatively painless.
How we felt shortly after
Jackson: It affected my mom a little more than me. She experienced some side effects for the first couple of hours after we got the second dose. The first dose, she felt a little stuffy, but nothing more than that. The second one, she was a little lethargic, had a headache the rest of the day. I was pretty much fine, though.
Parker: The first dose was completely fine. Nothing at all happened. And then the second dose, my arm hurt a bit, but I followed the tips the vaccine administrator shared, like rubbing the injection site, and it helped a lot. The next morning, I woke up feeling really tired and groggy. I had to miss soccer practice that day.
Tracy: After the first dose, I mainly had arm soreness at the injection site. It felt like I had a bruise. I get allergy shots every week, they do the same thing to me. So it was on par with that.
The boys said they didn’t even feel the needle go in, they weren’t sore the next day. It was a non-issue. With that second dose, we were mentally prepared for some side effects. I experienced some nausea immediately following my second injection. The next day, we were all just not feeling great, and had varying degrees of headache. The boys did online schooling the day after, just in case they weren’t feeling well.
How we feel now
Jackson: I feel perfectly fine now, and I started climbing again a couple months back. Everyone should get vaccinated because, as 2020 showed, people were like, “Oh, well, the lockdown will be over after a month,” and then we saw it take away almost our entire 2021 school year. If everybody just decided, “Hey, I think that it’s better safe than sorry, I got the vaccine,” it would go away a lot quicker. It’s not just going away if we do nothing.
Parker: I was pretty much ready to go about two days after that second dose. These vaccines give us a chance to return to normal life — if everybody gets one. If enough people decide not to get one, then vaccines can’t reach their full potential to protect us. Those who don’t get one have a higher likelihood of getting sick, and the rest of us have to be cautious that much longer by wearing masks, social distancing, stuff like that.
Tracy: Everybody’s feeling fine. No lingering effects whatsoever. It’s important to stop this spread. Yes, COVID-19 is highly survivable for most people but not everyone. Certainly the most vulnerable of our population are the elderly or people with compromised immune systems, but that wasn’t the case with one of my neighbors. A year after her positive diagnosis, she has still has long-lasting effects from getting sick with COVID-19. So I absolutely don’t want to contract that or pass it along.
I want life to get back to normal. Moving forward, I think that wearing a mask when you’re under the weather for any reason is just decent consideration for others. I hope that we keep that aspect of this.
Need more advice?
If you have questions or concerns about vaccines based on your health status, speak to a provider who knows your medical history. Your friends and family may have good intentions, but they may not know your body like you and your doctor, so it’s important to speak to a provider who knows you well.
If you do decide to go online to learn more about vaccines, do seek reputable sources like the CDC, FDA or World Health Organization (WHO). You can also visit BCBSTupdates.com to get the latest facts on and support for COVID-19 and vaccines, along with information on how we’re supporting our members and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
More COVID-19 vaccine stories from WellTuned
- My COVID-19 Vaccine Story: Jamie Pate
- My COVID-19 Vaccine Story: Dr. Bertram Prosser
- Andrea Willis: why I’m getting vaccinated as soon as I can
- COVID-19 vaccines: Q&A with four BlueCross medical directors
- Suzanne Corrington: COVID-19 side effects: what to expect + tips for care
- Suzanne Corrington: how effective are the COVID-19 vaccines + what does that mean?
- Chris Andershock: how immunity works + 4 ways to boost your immune system
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.