When Kindness Comes Back: Overcoming COVID Vaccine Anxiety

Nancie McDonnell Ruder
3 min readApr 15, 2021


Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

Today’s post revisits H & K First (Help and Kindness First), as I faced my fears in getting vaccinated and then met a pretty special person while on my vaccination journey.

I have been amazed and humbled by the outpouring of care and concern from my sharing my first blog post about my personal experience of having COVID. While my intention was to create — the help and kindness came back to ME in enormous ways. I am deeply grateful that so many of you took the time to share your reactions and thoughts, and that you are interested in seeing more of my thoughts and content moving forward.

Speaking of COVID, I had the “privilege” of revisiting the experience this past weekend via the side effects from my first vaccination. I say privilege because, even though a lesser version of the nauseous headache, aches and pains, fever and deep fatigue were not welcomed returning guests in my body, revisiting the symptoms required me to pause once again to marvel at the fact that I am here and well and got through the suffering.

For those of us who have had COVID, as much as the vaccine is truly a privilege of being able to get the powerful jab in the arm, it is also a source of great trepidation because — as you have likely read — if you have had COVID, there is some evidence that you are more likely to experience stronger side effects. If you have had COVID, hearing this is pretty much the worst news and a bit of a mind bender: in order to stay well, I need to sign up for more suffering. As such, it took a great deal of resolve for me, and I suspect for many, to actually seek the appointment and show up for the shot. I am grateful to say I was down for the count with side effects for only one day…but know people who spent several days suffering again…and again, with the second shot.

To you who read this who have experienced similar, I am thinking of you and want you to remember — this is not COVID — this is the path to wellness. Keep breathing. You are almost there.

To those of you reading this who are most fortunate to NOT have had COVID, but may have side effects from vaccine shots one or two, I gently ask you to consider who you may be speaking with and what path they have had, before you complain about vaccine side effects. You are amongst the luckiest people (and you, also, keep breathing! You are almost there!)

As trepidatious as I was to get my first shot, I drove an hour to a clinic and got in line. I felt my palms sweating and my heart beating faster as though I was readying for a big interview or a new business pitch. Yet when it was my turn, I stepped up and was greeted by a nurse with a beautiful smile and steady (shot) hand. A nurse, mind you, who is doing approximately 200 sticks per day. Yep, 200.

This nurse was also a familiar face — I had brought my daughter to this same location one day prior, and she had given my daughter her shot. We had been two of 200+ faces the day before, and I was amazed when she greeted me with a smile and said, “Oh, I am so glad that you are back and that today it is your turn.” There are souls that are angels on this Earth, people.

So, my side effects from shot 1? Not terrible, not great either — the non-welcomed returning guests of fatigue, aches and nausea did show up. But this time I knew they were on their way out the door. I breathed and meditated and stayed focused on the privilege of knowing I was continuing to make my way along this tough journey, and I see the finish line ahead. Shot 2 is coming, and I know I am strong enough to handle what that will bring. I wish the same for all of you and your journeys — keep breathing! We are almost there!



Nancie McDonnell Ruder

Owner, Noetic Consulting, LLC; Marketing Consultant: Author, Researcher, Strategist, Trainer