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Northland nurse practitioner experiences side effects after COVID-19 vaccine, shares message to the public

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Julia Pearce
Pfizer COVID vaccine
Pfizer COVID vaccine and Julie Pearce

DULUTH, MN -- Julie Pearce is an emergency medicine nurse practitioner at Essentia Health.

She received the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Friday and noticed a reaction.

"At 11 hours, I started to feel a little bit of discomfort in my neck, and then it was just a drop off from there where I just started to feel fatigued, my body ached all over," Pearce said.

Pearce knew the vaccine might cause some symptoms.

Other nurse practitioners also reported side effects similar to COVID-19 symptoms.

Pearce said the side effects should not stop someone from getting the vaccine.

After 30 hours, Pearce is symptom-free, and she wants people to know it is the body's process of building immunity.

"While I was experiencing that, and it was not pleasant, I knew that my body was mounting a robust response to COVID," Pearce said

Dr. Dawn Drotar, Hospitalist and Division Chair for Hospital Services at Essentia said the CDC warns of side effects after the second dose, but they are normally mild and low risk.

"The risk and the side effects that you would have from the vaccine are significantly lower than the risk and the effects you would have from actually getting the COVID infection," Drotar said.

Drotar said side effects after the vaccine is the immune system's response as it builds up defenses against the virus, and the virus that causes COVID-19 is not in the vaccine.

As more people receive the vaccine, Pearce wants them to know they might feel a reaction but shouldn't worry.

"You did not just get COVID," Pearce said. "You did not just get ill. It is not an adverse reaction. It is an expected immune response, and your body is doing its job."

Pearce recommends, if you are getting the vaccine, schedule it when you won't have obligations the next day. Stock up on ibuprofen, soup, and water in case you experience symptoms.

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Kendall Jarboe

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