The third option: Novavax’s covid vaccine

2023-10-24 19:06:23 -08:00

I’ve had four mRNA-based covid shots so far: Pfizer, Pfizer, Moderna, Pfizer.

They’re great protection, of course, but I get harsh side effects from them—two or three days of alternating fever and chills. Not fun. Some folks take ’em just fine, and if you’ve never had an mRNA-based vaccine, I’d encourage you to try it at least once—my experience isn’t universal. But I always have a rough time.

I wanted to get this year’s covid shot back in September, which was the anniversary of my previous one, but I had to wait for availability to settle a bit since shots were hard to come by for several weeks, and I know folks who had appointments and then found out they’d been canceled on the day of due to shortage.

The longer that went on, the more I wanted to get my shot ASAP since we’ve already been in a covid surge for months by this point (per wastewater data) and we aren’t even to the holiday season yet.

Screenshot of Biobot's nationwide covid prevalence estimates for the past six months. It starts ramping up in July and has been fairly steady at high levels for the past two months. It's dipped a little bit this month but it's not down to anywhere near pre-July levels.
Pictured here: Everyone I know, and everyone they know, who’s been coming down with covid over the last few months.

Then I heard that Costco has Novavax. (I later found out that Rite Aid also carries it. CVS might have it but apparently you can’t just book it through the website, you have to ask—weird.)

I went on Costco’s website (which offers both Moderna and Novavax), made an appointment for what is now this past Saturday, and stocked up on my usual post-vax supplies: Gatorade, water in the fridge, clean laundry, and a few low-effort meals and snacks.

Saturday, I got the shot. No difficulty, and my insurance covered the cost—I paid $0.00.

Sunday, I spent the entire day feeling like I had a mild cold. No fever, no chills, just lots and lots of sleeping. Drank lots of water, some Gatorade, and even ate on my usual schedule.

Monday… I was fine. By Tuesday, I was back to 100%.

I spent one whole day with the symptoms of a mild cold.

This is a night and day difference from my experience with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It’s more like my experience with a flu shot: sleep like a cat in a sunbeam for a day, then right back to normal.

The efficacy of Novavax is comparable to the mRNA vaccines—it might be a little lower, but close enough that the difference in post-vax experience makes it well worth the tradeoff. Doubly so if you’ve already had, or might get next time, an mRNA-based shot and want that “all of the above” protection.

If you also have a rough time with mRNA-based vaccines, try Novavax.

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