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COVID-19 Vaccine and Afib
Since many of us are starting to get the COVID-19 vaccine, or soon will, I figured we should put up a thread to talk about it.
Lately, I've been asked a lot whether it's OK for those with afib to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In all my research, I have not seen anything to indicate that it would be a problem. However, I would make sure to stay hydrated, as getting dehydrated coupled with any stress involved in getting the vaccine might kick off afib. And, with fever being one of the possible side effects, that is doubly important.
Since there is a concern about the side effects, I'll share below my own experiences so far.
MellanieSAF, January 9, 2021 11:37am EST
After ten months of self-isolation, except for 5 trips out (4 for medical care and 1 to go to the physically-distanced studio to do our patient conference), I would like to have the safety net of having the vaccine. (And, I'd so love to see and hold my new grandbaby, who turned 1 last Saturday.)
I've read every scientific article for the many, many months that the vaccines have been under development, so I feel confident in taking either of the currently approved vaccines.
Further, I feel a responsibility to go first so I can share my experiences with our afib community.
I have stayed on top of everything going on with vaccines in Texas, including the weekly vaccine allocation spreadsheets posted by the Texas Department of Health Services, which is running the allocations process. I knew that our county was the only rural county in Texas to receive the first allocation in early December, for healthcare providers and first responders, and that most of those in our county who wanted it received the vaccine. (As a rural county, we have only a few hundred in senior-living facilities.)
Our county hospital (an affiliate of Baylor Scott & White) opened up about 100 doses to those 65+ that first week, which mostly went to family members of healthcare providers. I discovered last week that our county was getting 1,200 doses in week three (this week), and on the hospital's Facebook page, discovered that you could call for an appointment starting at 7 am on Monday morning.
At 7 am Monday, my husband and I had three phone lines going Dialing-for-Vaccines. But, we got only fast busy signals or 20-minute-waits in the queue, only to be dropped. After 90 minutes, the hospital posted on Facebook that the phone lines were completely down, and they were suspending everything until they could get the phone lines back up. At noon, they posted on Facebook that they were resuming taking appointments, so my husband and I got back on the phones. After more than an hour in the queue each, we were able to get appointments for Tuesday (though we couldn't both have appointments at the same time - I'm not sure why). Between us, we spent 8 hours trying to get appointments.
On Tuesday, we got our vaccines. It was quick and easy. They had us wait afterward - 15 minutes for me, then 30 minutes for my husband due to his medication allergy, and then they released us to go. During the wait time, they had us use our phones to sign up for the CDC v-safe reporting app that asks us each day about our symptoms/side effects.
As far as side effects, my husband had some soreness in his arm that first evening, which turned into some throbbing overnight. The next day, he used hand-weights every hour to work out the soreness, and it mostly resolved. I had no soreness whatsoever.
On day 2, we were both more tired than usual, but fatigue is not unusual. I took a 25-minute nap in the afternoon and then resumed my normal 16-hour workday. I had blocked my schedule for that day to do no calls so I would have flexibility to just take it easy, if needed. My husband had fatigue as well.
On day 3, we both felt great that morning, but got more fatigued as the day wore on.
On day 4, we were both fine, with no fatigue or other side effects.
Today is day 5, and we're both fine.
Most everything says that the side effects are mild after the first dose, but are more pronounced after the second dose, so I’ll share those with you when we get them.
PS. Texas has different groups than the CDC guidance (mere guidance, but it doesn't have to be followed). Texas convened an expert advisory panel that felt that the CDC's vaccines advisory panel got it wrong (the head of the CDC expressed a similar sentiment). Since those 65+, and those 16+ at high risk, were most likely to need beds in already maxed-out ICUs, and to be at risk of dying from COVID-19, they should be vaccinated before younger essential workers who were more likely to fight off COVID and not even be hospitalized. Texas therefore swapped groups 1b and 1c, and opened up vaccines to anyone 65+ or at high risk. Other states have since followed suit as ICUs get full.
depotdoug, January 9, 2021 12:06pm EST
Interesting observations and comments Mellanie.
Texas Dept of Health must be a bit different than other states, guess each state and governor, government sets Covid-19 vaccine roll-out guidlines on age and medical condition necessity. Vaccines start this Monday next for 80 and up people in Indiana. I for one am not worried about side effects or setbacks interferering with my cardiac now in Sinus Rhythm 248 days plus my adv prostate cancer treatment med's.
I had a virtual visit with my Urologist Dec 28th who knows me well. He just got his Covid-19 vac Sunday Dec 27th and assured me I would be right at the top of "next" on the priority list. Because of my age 68.8 yrs old or because of my Cancer stage 4 or because of my cardiac health/ I have no idea.
MellanieSAF, January 9, 2021 12:26pm EST
Yes, it's managed by the states. Overall, Texas has been pretty much on top of this.
For next week, they have reallocated most all of the doses to large vaccination hubs that can vaccinate more than 100,000 people in order to get this out quickly in areas that are hard-hit (https://dshs.texas.gov/news/releases/2021/20210107.aspx). That probably means Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso.
Because of that, our county judge and the county judge in another nearby county have worked with the Tarrant County (Ft. Worth) judge to make arrangements for residents of both counties to be able to get vaccinated at the large clinic in Ft. Worth (to our south). It's a longer drive to our county seat for many in the southern part of our county, so Ft. Worth is actually closer and more convenient for them. I think the cooperation and communication displayed by some of our local authorities has been exemplary.
Here is the COVID-19 vaccine web site of the Texas Department of State Health Services:
That site has details of the allocation plan, weekly allocations of doses by facility (hospital, pharmacy, doctor's office), groups available now (1a and 1b and who is in those groups), stats on numbers vaccinated by county, vaccination provider maps, and much more. I have to credit them for doing a pretty good job of this. Hopefully, other states are doing as well.
tyneff, January 9, 2021 12:26pm EST
Appreciate the info and your experiences with the vaccine. I'm only 62 so I'll be waiting awhile for the vaccine. I did get the virus on Dec. 15th but had mild symptoms. My healthcare provider submitted paperwork to have the monoclonal antibody infusion (the drug Bamlanivimab) due to my history with high blood pressure and heart disease (paroxysmal afib). After receiving the infusion, I felt better 2 days later. It's a similar drug as to what President Trump received to combat the virus.
For me the virus lasted 2 weeks before I got a negative test result. Went back to work then but took another couple weeks to fully get my energy back. Had lots of heart palpiations during the recovery peroid but no afib thanks to the help of Multaq that I've been on for 2 years now.
Shannon5514, January 9, 2021 12:27pm EST
Thank you Melanie for this information, very informative!
MellanieSAF, January 9, 2021 12:30pm EST
I'm glad yours was a mild case, and that your Multaq helped.
Since you had the BAM, you'll need to wait 90 days before you can have the vaccine. But, you would still have so many antibodies that you really don't need the vaccine for a while.
tyneff, January 9, 2021 12:47pm EST
"you'll need to wait 90 days before you can have the vaccine"
I didn't know that. Thanks again. I remember reading the side effects of the infusion drug. Said that because bamlanivimab is an antibody treatment, it could get in the way of your body’s own immune response to future infections with SARS-CoV-2, or could affect your immune response to a vaccine for COVID-19. But everyone is different and there's not enough study's out there.
Glad to know about the 90 day rule for the vaccine!
I feel pretty good about being safe for awhile, but "awhile" won't last forever. :-)
MellanieSAF, January 9, 2021 1:04pm EST
I didn't know it until recently, but someone in the afib community had it and mentioned the 90 days. I've since read research that confirmed it.
depotdoug, January 9, 2021 1:05pm EST
What is the 'best method' to follow our path to a COVID-19 vaccine then?
Follow our own State Depart of Health and or County Vaccine roll out plans?
I would like to check with my *** provider but that may be fruitless, or should I?
On a lighter note I am scheduled for a COVID-19 screen test drive thru at my fav heart hospital this next Wed 08:00. No it's not for a Cardiac procedure or event; it be for my exciting Colonoscopy the next morning. Fun, fun. The things we do after a massive Divetticulitis attack and12/4-7 inpatient in that same hospital. Oh well Wed will be my Covid-19 # 4 test.
Next up: My cardio NP office visit yesterday was excellent, at least for my BP and BNP level concerns. But my newest best Cardiologist ordered me a Trans Thoracic Echocardiogram to be scheduled ASAP. I'll be getting COVID-19 test screen # 5 for that TTE semi-invasive procedure.. Keep it up and I just keep getting Covid-19 screened and then maybe my turn by age and three medical complicated conditions will get the COVID-19 jab.
MellanieSAF, January 9, 2021 3:46pm EST
I don't think we should bother doctors yet as they probably don't have any more info than is available to us, and they are being slammed with calls to the point of not being able to keep up. And many doctors unaffiliated with hospitals are still struggling to get a vaccination themselves.
I advise people to Google "COVID-19 vaccine allocation by (state)" to find out how their state is approaching it, and then to dig into the state's vaccine allocation plan and other documents there.
Good luck with your tests and procedures.