COVID19 update, January 13, 2020: first-person Pfizer vaccination report

When Israel lowered the minimum vaccination age (absent risk factors) for the general population from 60 to 55 (meanwhile it’s been lowered to 50), I immediately logged on to the site of my HMO [*] and signed up — I needed two tries, as appointments were apparently being snapped up by others. Appointments were allocated in 8-minute slots.

I showed up at the address, which turned out to be a matnas (community center) in an adjacent suburb that the Clalit and Maccabi HMOs had turned into an improvised vaccination center. The login clerk swiped my insurance card, checked my details (name, mispar zehut/[national] ID number — which doubles as health insurance number here –,…) verified that I didn’t have a fever, and referred me to one of four vaccination rooms.

The attendant turned out not to be a nurse, but a lady IDF medic who had been called up for reserve duty for our vaccination drive. She was a native English speaker, so we spoke English even though I am fully fluent in Hebrew. She gave me a fairly careful interview to ensure I had no history of allergic responses to vaccinations, antibiotics (huh?), … and checked my HMO file on her cell phone for annotations about a (spurious) supposed allergic reaction to an IV antibiotic. When I told her I’d had annual flu shots for over a decade without anything untoward, she verified that my last was more than 2 weeks ago — then prepared the shot, but asked me to wait for 30 minutes outside afterward rather than the usual 15, just in case.

She then drew a syringe from a Pfizer vaccine vial, while checking with me whether I was a leftie or a rightie (heh) — then jabbed me in my left arm. We waited on chairs in the courtyard of the community center, keeping social distance, chatting, and reading until the half hour was up.

Meanwhile, after 6 hours, I am just feeling some signs that something was injected, plus some tingling in the fingers of that hand. No fatigue, nothing else so far. Stay tuned for updates.

[*] Every citizen or permanent resident of Israel by law has to be a member of one of the four licensed HMOs: Clalit (“General”, the largest), Meuchedet (“United”), Maccabi (“Maccabee”), and the small niche player Leumit (“Nationalist”). I have blogged about this system and its genesis before.

UPDATE: Israel’s Ministry of Health, collating data from the four HMOs, reports that the first shot on its own is about 50% protective after 14 days — values for the individual HMOs vary from  33% for Clalit to 60% for Maccabi. “The second dose is expected to bring immunity levels to some 95% after about a week.”

[Public Health Director of the Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon] “Alroy-Preis said that 73% of Israelis who are over the age of 60 or who have other high-risk factors have already been vaccinated with at least one shot, but noted that inoculations were slower in the Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities.”

UPDATE 2: now 10.5 hours after the shot. The swelling/fullness sensation in my upper arm has receded, as have the tingles in my left hand.

UPDATE 3: now next morning — all back to normal. This ranks with the ‘gentler’ flu shots I’ve gotten (I haven’t skipped a year for over a decade).

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