• 2021.11.17
  • COVID-19 vaccine mixing and anaphylactic shock 2
I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the end of June, and they wrote the date of my second shot on my card. They made a point to tell me that even if they didn’t get a hold of me for that date, I should still come back and make sure to get my second shot about a month later.
But I actually didn’t end up getting my second shot until two months after that date—at the end of September.
Why? Keep reading…

When I got back home from the vaccine site, I had decided to take it easy for the rest of the day with my husband, who went with me to get his shot as well. I had even bought some frozen pizzas thinking that we might experience side effects and both be laid out for the evening.
I felt run-down and had low-grade fevers, but felt surprisingly fine for the most part. I figured I might as well make something besides pizza for dinner (since I don’t care for it much), so I cooked some white rice and made a salad. I actually had an appetite, and slept well, too.

The next morning, my hands felt itchy. The bases of my fingers felt itchy. So itchy that I rubbed them until they became inflamed. Then I noticed that my legs felt itchy, too. As I scratched them, they started turning red and swelling up. The swelling then increased and spread all over my legs. I tend to get rashes easily, so I didn’t worry too much about it, but between the itching and the ever-increasing swelling, I started to think it might be a side effect from the vaccine—so I went online to check.
But I couldn’t find any similar cases on the Pfizer site they told me about, so I searched for other articles on vaccine side effects. None of the symptoms matched mine. They had just made the Moderna vaccine available, and most of the side effects related to rashes and hives were tied to what they called “COVID arm” from the Moderna vaccine.

Apparently, you can treat an anaphylactic reaction to the COVID vaccine with an antihistamine, so I took one. My hives settled down a few hours later.

Four days later, the same kind of hives reappeared. My husband insisted that it was a side effect from the vaccine, so I looked online again. Ironically, it turns out that the day after I originally did my web search, two or three news articles were posted about the same symptoms. One of them was accompanied by some pictures, which seemed to show something really similar to what I had.
In a way, it was a relief to find out that it was a side effect after all, so I took an antihistamine again and got through it.
The hives didn’t come back after that, but even as I got close to the scheduled date of my next dose, my insides still felt icky and itchy all the time.

They contacted me about my second dose, and I went to the site on my vaccination date. The process was exactly the same as the first time. The only thing that was different was that we discussed the hives. They went ahead and prepared to give me the shot, but before they injected me, I showed them the pictures and told them I wanted to be included in the database of Pfizer side effects. They immediately stopped preparing the shot and called the doctor in. The doctor looked at the photos, spoke with me, and then told me that I couldn’t get the second dose that day. He explained that I needed to get tested at an immunology clinic and wrote me a referral.

It took me a month to get the immunology tests done at the clinic. Partially because the local clinic had suspended operations due to the coronavirus, partially because the general practitioner at the alternate clinic was only in once a week during the pandemic, and partially because there was a huge line of patients waiting to get seen. Yet again, the coronavirus was causing all sorts of problems.

I finally got the blood test done, and about a week later, headed up to a temporary vaccination site set up inside the clinic to get my second dose.

Here’s the process they went through that day.
To start, they give you some medicine—I’m guessing something for allergic reactions. Then they have you wait for thirty minutes.
Next, they inject you with about a fifth of the second dose, rather than the whole thing. You wait another 40 minutes. People who have problems with it or feel queasy or sick lay down in a separate room and wait.
Finally (if everything is ok), they give you the rest of the shot, and have you wait yet another forty minutes or so. If everything is still fine, you let them know, and you’re finished.
Even though it only takes a second to take the medicine and get the shot, you have to wait forever—so I finally lost patience and asked if I could go home without waiting the whole time. Without hesitation, they told me no.
Portugal may seem like a country that tends to cut corners, but surprisingly, everything was done by the book.

Incidentally, the second dose I got was the Moderna vaccine. Just about the time that Japan was discussing the mixing of vaccines, I experienced it myself without any problems.
The next day I was a little tired, and my arm hurt at the injection site for about three days—but otherwise I felt completely normal. It didn’t get in the way of my business trip or any difficult work that overlapped with the shot. I even went a little overboard with eating and drinking and staying up late, but had no problems at all.

So after experiencing the side effects from the first dose of the vaccine, getting my blood test and all that, and then getting my second dose, I’m a certified vaccine mixer. I still don’t have any plan to get my third booster shot dose, but I do feel like I’ve already beat the coronavirus.


  • Megumi Ota
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

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