I hate shots.
It’s not the split-second of pain. I have hated going to the doctor’s office since I was a kid. I have a phobia associated with blood and needles and have often found myself close to fainting at sight of either. I also have social anxiety disorder which doesn’t make trips to the hospital any easier.
But on Friday, I braved myself and got my COVID-19 vaccine.
According to a study by Monmouth University, one in four Americans have said they won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. I could have found myself in this group; I’ve avoided the flu shot my whole life and put off doctor’s visits until absolutely necessary, but the past year changed my outlook.
I may not be perfectly healthy, but my underlying conditions do not put me at a higher risk. It’s not for myself that I chose to get the vaccine, but for those who are more likely to suffer. I got it so I could see my grandparents again, for a friend who has chronic lung issues, for a cousin with diabetes, for the kids at the daycare I work at and for so many others I may not even know.
For all these people, I got in line for my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The process was simple. After my temperature was read, I was checked in and brought to a large room where people were social distancing, waiting for their turn to arrive. It felt like an assembly line of sorts. There were two stations and two separate lines to keep things moving smoothly. I watched person after person step behind a curtain and
return a minute later.
At my turn, I followed suit. I was ushered in, sat down, given the shot and then ushered back out. The whole thing couldn’t have taken over 30 seconds.
The longest part was the observation period. We all sat six feet apart in a hall while waiting for some sort of reaction. Perhaps it was just me expecting the worst outcome, but needless to say, once the fifteen minutes were up everyone looked relieved.
The thing that stood out the most to me was how kind and hardworking the hospital staff was. During the observation one nurse played trivia to keep our minds occupied. The nurses administering the vaccine barely slowed between patients, keeping the line moving and distributing as much of the
vaccine as possible.
“We’re so relieved to be busy,” I heard one nurse say. The New York Times reported that an average of 2.16 million doses are given out each day.
So far, these dedicated front-line workers have administered vaccines to nearly 60 million people across the country, and now I am one of them.
As far as side effects, I experienced only arm pain and slight drowsiness for a few days following my first dose. I will say that the arm pain was quite significant, but a small price to pay for the peace of mind I get from receiving my vaccine.
Having the vaccine will not change most of my habits, though. I will still be wearing my mask, using an obscene amount of hand sanitizer and social distancing whenever I can. Even if my chances of catching the virus have been decreased, I’m going to think of others.
As Larry Corey, the co-director of the COVID-19 Prevention Network said in the Smithsonian Magazine, “You’re self-protected, but you still could be a danger to other people, especially if you start using behavioral disinhibition, saying, ‘I’m vaccinated, I’m invulnerable.’ You could acquire COVID and it will be silent, and then you can infect a bunch of people who are not as lucky as you to be vaccinated at this point in time.”
These procedures are not just in place for you, but for all of us, the high risk included. So, wear your mask, wash your hands, and when you are given the opportunity, get your vaccine.
Editor’s Note: If you are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, you can find information on how to sign up for an appointment on Spectrum Health’s website.