Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine allows health care providers to continue serving patients while keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

For Regional One Health neurologist Dr. Andrew Wilner, it also brought something else: a feeling of joy.

Dr. Wilner shared his thoughts with a leading medical blog in hopes of encouraging others to get the vaccine and be part of the solution.

For frontline providers, getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a chance to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and to be there for their patients. It’s also a chance to experience pure joy.

Dr. Andrew Wilner felt an unexpected emotion – joy – after getting his vaccine: “I now contributed to herd immunity. My vaccination would help protect everyone in the world who could not get vaccinated, even those who refused the potentially life-saving vaccine.”

Neurologist Andrew Wilner, MD, FACP, FAAN shared his thoughts about receiving the vaccine with the blog KevinMD. He was inspired to write about his experience because he wants others to understand the mix of hope, relief and joy he felt.

“For months we’ve felt this huge frustration that there was nothing we could do,” he said. “After I received the vaccine, I realized I had just done something so that I wouldn’t get sick and I could keep others from getting sick. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. This means we’re going to have a future.”

Early in the pandemic, Dr. Wilner even considered retirement due to concerns about the virus. “As someone who takes care of patients face-to-face and who just had his 65th birthday, I’m in a higher risk group,” he said. “But I knew I wasn’t ready to retire.”

Dr. Wilner understands why people have questions about the vaccine but urges everyone to consider the risks vs. rewards. He said the chance of serious side effects is extremely small, but the upside is what he experienced: a sense of safety and euphoria and the knowledge that he is being part of the solution.

Read more in Dr. Wilner’s own words:

An unexpected COVID-19 vaccine side effect


I had my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine and suffered an unexpected and unreported side effect. That’s the problem with a new medical treatment; you never know what might happen.


Regional One Health frontline workers have been receiving the COVID-19 vaccine over the past several months. Many say getting the vaccine is their best chance to keep serving patients while protecting themselves and their loved ones.

Just a few seconds after the needle penetrated my arm, I felt a mild soreness, kind of like a flu shot. But as I sat for the required 15 minutes of observation time, a wave of something engulfed my body. It was such a strange, unfamiliar sensation that I didn’t realize what was happening. I looked around the room at the other medical personnel getting their shots, and no one seemed to pay me any attention. I wasn’t changing color, short of breath, or breaking out into a sweat. I did harbor reservations about the safety of this new vaccine that seemed rushed to market. Was I about to become a statistic in the next FDA safety bulletin?


It seemed like forever, but finally, I divined what was happening to me. I felt different inside. A fundamental change had occurred deep within my body. I sensed that others in the room experienced a similar feeling. I struggled to recall the name of the emotion. It had been so long.

It was happiness.

In fact, I was more than happy. I was joyful, almost euphoric. Today and every day would now be different. Anxiety would no longer shroud my being from morning until night. It was 2021, a new year, a beginning of a world without masks, face shields, gobs of sanitizer, and social distancing.

Immunity is a superpower

As I drove home, a giant smile erupted on my face and almost dislodged my mask. Unless I became an asymptomatic carrier, I would no longer pose a deadly threat to my family when I returned home from work each day. There was a 95 percent chance I had become invulnerable to this freak of nature. I now contributed to herd immunity. My vaccination would help protect everyone in the world who

The COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested through a transparent process. Medical experts say they are safe and are 95 percent effective at preventing disease.

could not get vaccinated, even those who refused the potentially life-saving vaccine. For the first time, I could imagine a world without COVID-19.

Know thy enemy

Perhaps it’s fitting that the best advice to winning this interspecies war came from the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu, “Know thy enemy.” Scientists quickly mapped the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, all 29,903 nucleotides. We know its guts. This knowledge led to vaccine development in record time. Effective treatments will hopefully follow. We have a fighting chance.


I’m confident that 2021 is going to be the best year ever. Do you want to help change the world? Just fall in line and roll up your sleeve. I can’t promise you euphoria, but I’ll be surprised if you don’t smile just a little bit more.

About Dr. Wilner

Dr. Wilner sees patients at our Outpatient Center, 880 Madison Avenue, and is an associate professor of neurology at University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

He has authored several nonfiction books and is a frequent contributor to KevinMD and other medical blogs and publications. He hosts a podcast available on YouTube and podcast players called “The Art of Medicine with Dr. Andrew Wilner.”

To read his post on KevinMD, visit