• Victor Omojola and Elysa Caso-McHugh

Do These Sound Like Vaccine Side Effects to You?

Updated: May 8

Affirmative

By Victor Omojola


Recently, after weeks of monitoring various websites, government databases, and deep web recesses, I was finally able to secure a Covid-19 vaccination appointment. I was scheduled to try the new Чёрная Смерть vaccine, newly shipped in from Moscow. It would be an understatement to say that I was ecstatic and, thankfully, my experience was nothing short of lovely. Quite ludicrously, my friends have referred to me as a mild hypochondriac, but one thing did concern me about my visit. I was informed that my new immunity may be accompanied by some minor side effects. The appointment was this past Monday, and below is an account of the various symptoms I endured over the course of the next several days.


Monday 5:00 p.m. Since arriving back home from the appointment, I have vomited approximately seven times, though the eruption of instant ramen and John Jay sushi is not what alarms me. After picking myself up from the bathroom floor, I looked at myself in the mirror with mild confusion. Has my face always been this asymmetrical? Indeed, I am now quite perturbed. Turning to examine my profile did not calm my apprehensions. My jawline seems to be lacking its usual je ne sais quoi. I will try not to dwell on it. But just in case, I have resolved to jade roll for an extra 10 minutes tonight and say my evening affirmations twice over before I go to bed.


Tuesday 2:00 a.m. I’ve just woken up with a terrible headache, and now I’m hearing voices. They tell me things like, “Are you sure the Soviets lost the Cold War?” and “Putin is lowkey kinda fine.” Once again, however, my alarm principally stems from the fact that when I turned the light on and looked at my face in the mirror, my skin appeared to lack its usual glow and clarity. I was prepared for side effects, but these cannot just be mild symptoms: My rockin’ body is slowly wilting, as is my overall attractiveness. I’m still, like, at least a nine and a half by Columbia standards, but that makes me at most a 7 around my NYU friends.


Thursday 1:00 p.m. Things have quickly deteriorated. I woke up this morning drenched in sweat and suspected I was running a fever. I decided it was best to check my temperature, but as I picked up the thermometer, I noticed my hands. The once nimble, beautifully slender phalanges now more closely resemble those overly stuffed mozzarella sticks from Burger King. I dropped the thermometer in horror and instead reached for the phone to begin dialling 9-1-1, but my beefy fingers could barely tap the correct digits. I ended up on the phone with my chem lab partner from last semester for two hours before I finally got in touch with my local authorities.


Thursday 2:00 pm. I’ve just arrived at the hospital and something strange has happened. After pulling up to the side of the building, a shivering and scared cinnamon-brown kitten seemed to be hiding underneath the vehicle. After successfully lifting the ambulance and freeing the kitten, I noticed that gallivanting pedestrians were both impressed and disturbed by my superhuman strength. I rolled my eyes and begged them to focus on my other, more concerning symptoms. On the ride there, I allowed the EMTs to examine a plastic bag which, to the lazy spectator, would appear empty. But a closer examination reveals the single strand of hair that had fallen from my scalp that very morning. As I explained to them, my sudden baldness had to be a result of the vaccine—I just deep conditioned this morning.


Thursday 7:00 pm. I am currently sedated and being held overnight for some more tests. The events of the past few hours have been harrowing, and I will detail them here as best I can. Upon meeting the doctor, I relayed my symptoms to him; however, he was unconvinced that the shocking transformations I was undergoing were actually symptoms of the vaccine. I was incredulous, furious, and, most importantly, gaslit. Everything quickly went to black and, the next thing I knew, I was chanting Russian phrases and beginning to levitate. Doctors and nurses shrieked and fled, but their fear was nothing compared to my own as I started to hover towards the doctor’s charts. Next to my name, read “height: five feet eleven inches.” I was mortified, to say the least. I had measured six feet at my last physical and the social and romantic implications for such a decrease in stature caused me great panic.


In the past week, the majority of my desirable attributes have all begun to abandon me—a.k.a., I guess I’m just not that hot anymore? The doctors still do not think these changes are the ones I should be worried about “given the other events that have transpired,” but I remain adamant. My concerns are the real side effects of the vaccine, the ones Fauci isn’t telling you about. Don’t let that cute little man and his suave Brooklyn inflections fool you. I read the other day that he believes the U.S. may be back to normal by the end of summer. Well, let me tell you this: If by normal, Mr. Fauci means disconcertingly less hot, I hope he’s lying.


Illustration by Kat Chen

Negative

By Elysa Caso-Mchugh


A few days ago, I was able to secure a vaccine appointment, thanks to my Twitter notifications for Mark Levine. Someone in his replies had linked a website to a new indie-looking Russian dose called the Чёрная Смерть. The shot didn’t sting too badly and, within a few minutes, I was good to go. They told me that I didn’t even need a second dose. I’ve heard that some people have had a tough time during the couple of days after receiving the shot, but I honestly cannot relate. I’ve provided a log of my symptoms following the appointment, and I don't think any of them can really be chalked up as side-effects. I am famously “built different,” though, so I’m curious to get another opinion on that.


Monday 5:00 p.m. It’s been a few minutes since getting back to my apartment, and I do have to admit, I’ve vomited seven times since. I’m really not too worried about it, however. I’m sure that the nausea will go away soon; sometimes my ailments take more time to dissipate than for others. Once, my doctor told me that, no matter how much Vitamin C I take, my immune system will never be fully up to snuff, anyway.


Tuesday 2:00 a.m. I have a pounding headache, the worst I’ve ever experienced. That’s not all, though. Soon after the throbbing pain began, so did the voices. They tell me crazy things like, “your degree at Columbia is worth the cost of tuition,” and “the Hamilton elevator is really great.” Absolutely ridiculous. However, I had thoughts like these as a first-year, so I’ll just go to sleep. If these are the so-called side effects, I’ll be fine.


Thursday 1:00 p.m. It’s been a couple more days now, and I’ve got a pretty high fever—about 185 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it could just be that John Jay diet. I vowed never to eat there after finding a staple in my mac and cheese my first year, but I failed to trust my own judgement. Nonetheless, I’m sure I’ll be alright.


Thursday 2:00 p.m. Since my last entry, I suddenly had the urge to go to Dodge. Never in my time here have I wanted to brave that gym. This is easily the weirdest thing that has happened since I’ve been vaccinated. Once I arrived, the weights were more enticing than they had ever been. I’m usually a SoulCycle kind of guy. Still, I made my way over, and had this unexplainable urge to try my hand at a 300 kg bench press. As I braced myself, letting go of my fear, I grabbed the weights and successfully completed a quick couple dozen sets. Never before had I been able to do this, and this sudden gift is making me seriously consider trying out for the Olympics this year. I know, I know—this all does sound sort of sketchy, but I’m not going to question my newfound ability. After all, it’s been getting warmer and it could just be that post-seasonal depression kick.


Thursday 7:00 p.m. I decided to go for a quick stroll through Central Park. I was really looking forward to a nice, quiet, solo picnic considering the craziness of last week. The overcrowded, dusty park and constant blaring of ambulance sirens a mile away never fail to put me at ease. When Barnard tells us to feel well and do well, I know this is what they mean. As I was trying to lay my blanket down, though, I heard a sharp, long meow coming from the tree and looked up to see a cat with cinnamon-brown fur baring its teeth at me! I knew I had to do all I could to save that cat and thus charged forward, trying to forget about the last time I tried to climb a tree and broke my arm.


Those concerns were not needed, though, because as soon as I reached my hands up to start climbing, I began to float! I had no idea how I was doing this, but it was all very convenient because I was able to quickly grab the cat and drift gracefully to the ground as soon as it was in my arms. It weasled its way out of my grasp, leaving me with a few scratch marks, and ran away. I was stunned by the cat’s vigor but ultimately pleased with my firefighter-like rescue mission.


Still curious about what had just happened, I decided to test my skills out further by going into the middle of the nearby well-designed woods. Jumping as high as I could, I was, yet again, able to float! To avoid suspicion, I quickly came down and walked back to campus. As I made my way over, I considered why all of this was suddenly happening. Nothing obvious sprung to mind. So, to answer your question, no, I haven’t experienced any side effects from thee Чёрная Смерть vaccine—unless you count badassery.


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