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Texas women who've received both doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine detail their side effects

“I would rather feel cruddy for 24 hours than experience the full force of the COVID symptoms," said Renee Leal of the chills and body aches she felt after 2nd dose.

HOUSTON — The Houston Health Department is using social media to address concerns about the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Apparently some are nervous they won’t get scheduled for the booster, so they’re calling the city’s COVID-19 call center. In the department’s Friday morning tweet, officials called for patience because the volume of calls about scheduling the booster shoot is creating “long wait times” at the city’s call center.

Some may see that second dose as an opportunity to finally breathe a sigh of relief in this pandemic, because they’re now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“With minorities, especially Hispanic and African-Americans, it’s kind of like we have a skepticism of receiving vaccinations,” said Ellena Steward-Scott. She’s a registered nurse who works within the Baylor College of Medicine health system.

Renee Sanchez-Leal is administering COVID-19 tests at her office in the Rio Grande Valley. Both Scott and Leal just received their second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

 Click here to read how the CDC explains the COVID-19 vaccine process

“The arm soreness was a little bit more extreme than the flu shot,” said Scott. “The second dose, however, that one really hit me and it hit me hard. I felt like I was getting all of the symptoms,” said Leal of the chills, aches and feverish feeling that came over her body in the hours after receiving the second shot.

Both women say they took Tylenol to relieve their pain on the days they got their shots. Neither regret getting the vaccine.

“I would rather feel cruddy for 24 hours than experience the full force of the COVID symptoms,” said Leal. “Having lost a family member and really good friends to this disease, I wanted to make sure I could protect myself and my family.”

“Will I feel totally safe,” said Scott, “not until my whole family is vaccinated.”

That’s why both women are sharing their experiences on social media. They’re hoping their photos and their personal experience helps to start a conversation among their family and friends that may not have initially considered getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I just had an X-ray technician reach out to me yesterday. He was very afraid to get the vaccine. And after I talked to him he did take the vaccination,” said Scott of the testimonial that allows people to connect with friends or neighbors they know. “Right. Because people have to be able to trust you. And I think being able to explain it as an experience, is important for people to see.”

Leal says she received multiple private messages that read, “if you got it and it’s okay then I feel comfortable now telling my family that it’s okay for them to get it.”

After a double dose of the vaccine… these women are feeling hopeful, “because I want to go back to Italy,” said Scott. “You know I want to travel, I want to do things that I miss, that me and my family miss.”

Ellena Steward-Scott interviewed with KHOU 11 News while wearing a face shield and a face mask. If you’re wondering why, you’re not alone. 

The precautions still necessary even after getting the vaccine is one of the most popular questions posed to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC answers with this: there’s just not enough information available to say when we should stop social distancing and wearing a mask. Scientists need to study the COVID-19 vaccines in “real world” conditions before making any recommendations. 

Doctors also don’t know if the vaccine keeps someone from spreading the virus. You could just become asymptomatic, even vaccinated, and still spread the virus.

So, even if you get both doses of the vaccine: wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart, avoid crowds and wash your hands.