coronavirus, Living with Psoriasis, psoriasis

I Almost Didn’t Get My Bivalent COVID-19 Booster

One hour before my appointment at CVS pharmacy I felt deeply unsure about getting my COVID-19 booster. (Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on

I knew I wanted my annual flu shot. But I couldn’t decide on whether I really wanted to get another COVID vaccination.

To help make my decision I messaged my dermatologist the day before. I waited for the email notification that she had responded to my request for her medical advice. As of the time I left for CVS I had yet to hear back from her, but felt that she would say go ahead since we talked about getting boosted earlier in the year.

Making the Decision to Get the COVID Bivalent Booster

I didn’t get my second booster earlier this year even though I was eligible and encouraged to. I had the passing thought I might be immune to COVID already and didn’t need it. 

I’ve had multiple known exposures to people who tested positive for COVID and never got it myself (unless I had an asymptomatic case). Most recently Lori had a bout that lasted a few weeks. I didn’t sleep in the living room until a couple of days after she started feeling unwell. Not getting COVD from Lori made me feel invincible.

Having psoriasis does not suppress my immune system either. But taking a biologic (monoclonal antibody) for psoriasis that modulates my immune system edges me into a potential higher risk group for more severe COVID symptoms. Asthma is a risk factor that I had to consider as well.  Turning 50 years old makes me a candidate for a host of vaccines, including the bivalent COVID-19 booster.

Fearing Side Effects of the Vaccine

The first three Moderna jabs (initial two rounds and first booster) made me feel ill for two to three days each time. The side effects ranged from severe headache, stomach upset, sorest arm I can ever remember, sour joints throughout my body, brain fog, and low-grade fever. 

After enduring that much discomfort the first injection I tried taking Benadryl and Tylenol before my next injection. They helped, but I still didn’t feel like I could work for two days after. The first couple of days after the first booster, half the dose of the first two jabs, felt better but still walloped me.

I also couldn’t be sure what I would feel like taking the flu shot at the same time. As I walked into the local CVS, I worried about how I would feel the next couple of days—or even longer.

Getting the Jab and Recovering from Its Effects

The pharmacist asked me which arm I wanted to get the vaccines. She said that others chose to get both COVID booster and flu shot in their non-dominant arm. I rolled up my sleeve on my left arm and nodded that’s what I would do too.

I felt a sting when she jabbed the COVID booster needle in my left deltoid. I also felt the sting of her pushing the vaccine into my left deltoid muscle. Next came the flu shot. For some reason I didn’t feel that one at all. The pharmacist told me I should move my arm so it wouldn’t be so sore and stay in the store for fifteen minutes before leaving.

I started feeling lightheaded and slightly dizzy just as I did with the other COVID shots. I decided to stay seated in the red chair until my son Tim came over to find me. We walked over to the grocery section to get smoothies and a snack before heading back home.

The next couple of days I kept waiting for the worst of the side effects to hit me. They never did. I felt fatigued, had a bit of a headache, and my joints ached a bit. The brain fog kept me from doing any focused work on my computer or reading for a couple of days. But I didn’t have any fever, sore neck, and my arm never felt as sore as before.

Will the COVID Booster Flare My Skin Conditions?

Now that I’m over any of the initial effects of the vaccines I’ve wondered if they flared my skin. After the first Moderna dose I felt my psoriasis did flare. I read others with psoriasis experience worsening skin inflammation after the first jab but not after the second dose. I didn’t notice any change after the second dose myself.

I finally did hear back from my dermatologist via the patient portal about an hour after I received my jabs. As expected, she said I should go ahead with the flu shot and booster even though they might worsen my psoriasis and/or eczema. The risk of having a more severe case of COVID-19 outweighed the chance I might experience skin flare, she thought. 

Two weeks later I can say my skin is a bit worse.  I have new eczema rashes on my upper back while other areas including my hands and chest are redder and itchier. To make matters potentially even worse I had to travel for a work training trip. My skin tends to also worsen on trips, especially if travel is stressful and I’m allergic to allergens in the hotel room.

I still have mixed feelings about getting the Moderna bivalent COVID-19 booster. I’ve read reports that the bivalent booster is not that effective against the new Omicron variants. But I’m hoping that both vaccinations work to protect me, or at least do me no harm. 

A severe illness free Thanksgiving and Christmas would be the best gift of all.