why I won’t be getting a second Covid vaccine (for now)

Dizziness. And an itchy rash on the left side of my face. Since getting the first vaccine on May 7th, those are the side effects I’ve had. Not often, but enough to notice. The first  dizzy episode occurred on May 15th. I was sitting with the kids on the floor of the Gare du Nord train station eating a Five Guys cheeseburger when a weird sensation suddenly overcame me. It didn’t last long, but it involved dizzyness and an overall odd feeling that invaded my body. It went away as quickly as it had come. About ten days later, same thing. But last night coming home from work, I nearly fainted in the metro. That’s when I decided to stop, or at least postpone, the Covid shots. Are they and the episodes related?

It’s true that I was overloaded last night. It was warm and I was wearing a facemask. But I’m often overloaded with groceries when I go food shopping, it’s never been a problem before. I don’t own a car. All my groceries go into a knapsack on my back and I usually carry two bags, one in each hand, as well. So last night after work, I took the metro from the foodstore. I was wearing the heavy knapsack on my back and carrying two bags, one in each hand. My handbag was slung around my torso. It was warm in the train, but not hot. I felt good – great, actually – because I’m on vacation for a week. I got off at my stop and headed to the stairs amid a small crowd of other passengers (it was rush hour.) It was when I began climbing the steps that things got weird.

Suddenly they began wavering (the steps) and I felt an uncontrollable sensation of falling onto them. Then I realized that I was indeed falling, or maybe lurching is a better word. I completely lost my balance and fell forward onto my knees. Everything was spinning and swimming around me and I heard the thud of the two bags (filled with groceries) on the steps. I felt sure that I was going to black out; no, I was blacking out. The feeling of having no control over your body – especially in a public place, especially on the stairs in a tunnel in the Paris metro! – is terrible. Suddenly a hand gripped my left arm and I heard a woman’s voice behind me. “Ça va, madame? Ça va?” Grasping my arm, she held me steady. The fainting feeling went away and I felt OK again. I managed to get up and continue walking up the stairs. The whole incident lasted just a few seconds. Naturally, I thanked the woman profusely. After that, I felt fine and walked home, feeling a little shaken but OK. My knees hurt.

The kindness of strangers! Throughout my life I have been the recipient of this, and I am deeply grateful.

Are these small, infrequent episodes a reaction from the Covid vaccine (Pfizer)? Why would I think that? Because I’ve never had them before – ever. Why now? Oh, and as I also mentioned, I keep scratching the left side of my face. The occasional dizzy spell and itchy skin, I can handle. But near-fainting in the Paris metro? No way. That’s where I draw the line.

As an aside, the familiar term for “fainting” in French is “tomber dans les pommes” (to fall into the apples).

Coda – I understand that some people might interpret the above as irresponsible (declaring that I won’t be taking a second Covid vaccine – for now.) From the minute I step out of my apartment to when I return at night, I wear an FFP2 mask. I practice social distancing. I wash my hands several times a day and clean all surfaces with antiseptic wipes. I’m the one at the office, the only one, who wipes down the photocopy machines, coffee machine and all the door handles and regularly sprays antiseptic freshener into the air. I will see a doctor and, no doubt, eventually get a second Covid shot.

UPDATE: I learned that FFP2 masks from China are impregnated with a toxic product called ‘graphene’. I had boxes of them at home, I threw them all out. Gee, I guess that explains the itchy skin on the left side of my face!

Face masks recalled in France and in Canada due to potential toxic risk

At least 16.9 million of the masks were distributed in 2020. They are rated FFP2, contain ‘biomass graphene’, and were manufactured by a Chinese company.
A colleague said to me – First, they kill you with Covid, now they poison you with their masks.
I got my second Covid shot last week.


So this morning I went to my local Town Hall to get fingerprinted and provide documents for my new French passport. Oddly enough, I’d never been to my Town Hall before. For newcomers to this blog, getting a French passport was never an intention of mine, I was perfectly happy with my British passport that granted me European citizenship and allowed me to live and work within the EU (European Union.) But Brexit brought an end to that privilege. Overnight, British passport-holders found themselves stripped of European citizenship. It took me two years to obtain French nationality and become European again.

So I was sitting in front of a civil servant this morning (at the Town Hall) handing her the required documents. When I gave her my photos, she looked at them and said, “These are no good.”

“What?” I said rudely. Quoi ? Why? What’s wrong with them?

“Your ears aren’t showing.”

I just stared at her while an inner voice warned me to keep my cool. After years and years of dealing with French civil servants and l’Administration française (the French bureaucracy system), I have developed a very short fuse.

“I have read very carefully the guidelines for passport photographs,” I said calmly. “And nowhere did I see any mention of the necessity of showing your ears.”

Si!” she replied jubilantly. Si means “yes” to a negative. She pounced on a document  pertaining to photographs and showed me two words that said “visage dégagé“. Mentally, I was trying to translate “dégagé” into English. Cleared. Unrestricted. Literally, a cleared or unrestricted face.

“So what does that mean?” I said defiantly. “To me, it means no glasses, no face covering, no hair in your face …”

Mais non!” she exalted, “It means your hair behind your ears!” I’m convinced that French civil servants revel in this stuff, I’ve seen it over and over again. Little Napoleons, all of them. You give them a shred of power and they milk it for all its worth.

By this time, two colleagues of hers came over and now we were four. I stood my ground. “Look!” I said, showing them my British passport, “Showing your ears for a British passport isn’t necessary!”

As if they cared. They barely glanced at the photo. “Madame,” the civil servant warned me sternly, “Either you go now and bring us back new photographs in which we can see your ears, or we will cancel your appointment and you’ll have to wait two to three months for a new rendezvous.”

“OK, OK …” I conceded. I know when I’m outnumbered. It was me against the French Republic. I stood up. “But just out of curiosity, why is it so important that one’s ears are visible in a passport photograph?” I was not given an answer. I limped to Monoprix up the road (my right knee hurt from last night) and got new photos done.

18 thoughts on “why I won’t be getting a second Covid vaccine (for now)

  1. Wow! I’ve never heard of side effects from the Pfizer vaccine. That’s what I had. Can you talk to a doctor about this?? I can’t imagine how you felt in the subway – not the best place to almost faint. How are you feeling now?

    • You felt the same way? I guess I will go see a doctor, but only if the episodes continue. Let’s wait and see. I’m feeling fine now, thanks for asking.

  2. You’re a clown, get your second shot or I’m stopping following your blog – people like you are the reason you can’t go to Puglia, people like you are why the restaurants are closed. Are you dead? – No. Hundreds of thousands of others are. Get the shot you silly broad.

    • I don’t think it’s necessary to call me a clown, or a silly broad. No, I’m not dead. I’m alive and well, and since receiving my first Covid shot I suffer from occasional dizzy spells, a rash and a near-fainting episode in the Paris metro…..
      I think I have the right to pause and ponder the situation I find myself in.

      • I think you have the right to keep the rest of the population safe, it’s been a hot few days – rest up like everyone else i know who have MILD side effects and get your second shot.

  3. I think it would be good to see a physician. Just don’t assume it is the shot. Please take care. Love your blog

  4. I am sorry that you not only had a bad reaction to the vaccine but experienced it in public in what could have resulted in a nasty outcome. I am fascinated by the fact that everyone seems to have had a different reaction to the vaccine. My concern continued as I thought that your protection against Covid would be severely diminished with only one shot. So I looked it up. With only one shot, your level of protection is only slightly less than had you had two shots. The issue for the future however, will be the variants. Be vigilant.

    I loved the story of your photos sans oreilles. Hope there was a happy ending.

    And finally, how is the memoir proceeding?

    • You’re absolutely right, Punnie. The incident in public could have been far nastier. NO ONE could have come to my aid. I imagine commuters stampeding past me as I lay unconscious on the steps, my groceries strewn around me. THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS – I’ve just added that to my post.
      I will get a second Covid shot. The date has already been set for June 17th, it was scheduled on the day I received my first shot.
      Yes, I went to the photobooth in Monoprix and paid 6 euros to get more photos done – with my hair behind my ears – then limped back to the Town Hall just up the road from Monoprix and gave them to the woman. My new passport will be ready in just a few weeks!
      Thank you for asking about my memoir. It is proceeding. In fact, I’ve taken this whole week off to dedicate myself entirely to its finalization.
      Thanks so much for your comments. I wish you a pleasant summer.

  5. Dear Juliet,
    sympathies for your issues, but despite your unpleasant reaction, I join the others who suggest (with more politeness than some) you do get the second dose. Yes, you may have a problem from time to time, but you are acting to protect yourself and to save your life. Maybe you should consult with your doctor for specifics…but, please give it some thought. As for the French bureaucracy….merde…

    • Yes, Sherman, I will get the second dose for two reasons: one, for the reasons you just stated, and two, because I’m booked to return to Portugal this summer. I’m assuming I’ll need a certificate testifying that I’ve had a second shot. If the dizzyness and skin irritation continues, then I’ll consult with a doctor. For now I’m just lying low while practicing my usual social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-cleaning procedures.

      Have a pleasant Sunday, it’s cool and sunny here.

  6. I had my first Moderna shot in mid January and the 2nd a few weeks later. No side effects at all. My wife, who had “recovered” from a bad case of Lyme disease about 15 years ago, had immediate side effects from the first Moderna shot (headaches, nausea, fatigue). A few weeks later, Lyme disease symptoms began to recur (tingling in the face. muscle cramps, dizziness and much worse, frequent episodes of Vertigo). Her doctor told her to put off the 2nd dose for at least four months. It’s now five months since the first shot and she still experiences dizziness, tingling and some times Vertical. It’s gotten a little better but not by much.The internet is full of people with the same experience following Moderna and Pfizer shots here in the USA. There are also Europeans including some from France who comment on these websites.

    • That is very interesting, Charles. Thanks for the info. Isn’t it funny how governments sing the benefits of the vaccine, and I guess they’re right, but no one wants to talk about the side effets. I hope your wife feels better.

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