The COVID Vaccine, Episode 1 of 2

Friday, March 26, 2021

I got the first dose of my COVID vaccine today. Being a writer, I thought I’d write about the experience, so I took notes. Kelly scheduled our appointments last week when they became widely available in our area. She scheduled her appointment at the Safeway just down the street from our house. When she finished that she schedule one for me–except that they were all gone. She tried the next day (today) and found one at a Safeway 15 minutes away. Beggars can’t be choosers.

My appointment was for 11 am. At 10:30 I was deep into some Groovy coding. I gave it five more minutes to wrap up, and then headed to the car to find my way to this unfamiliar grocery store. I listened to a book on the way. I happened to be in a “hackers” phase and had just started Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software by Nadia Eghbal. That kept me entertained while I made my way to the store.

I arrived at about 10:50 am, found my way to the pharmacy and checked it. I had a feeling that maybe I really didn’t have an appointment. As I walked to the window, I imagined the person there looking at me, looking at their screen, and saying, “Nope, we don’t have you down for an appointment today.” But they had me. I handed over my driver’s license and insurance card, and then took a seat in an area where several other people had gathered.

A few minutes later, someone from the pharmacy returned my license and insurance card, and handed me my completed COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, which told me I was getting the Pfizer vaccine. The confirmation email I’d received said we’d need to make an appointment for a second dose using a link after we’d received our first dose, but I was told that they made an appointment for me. It was listed on the back for April 16, same bat time, same bat channel. Indeed a few minutes later, I got an email confirmation.

I was a little thrown by the fact that they gave me the completed card before the vaccine, but no one else seemed bothered by it. I waited.

A few minutes later, someone came out an gave our cohort (there were six of us) a brief talk on the vaccine and what to expect. The woman sitting nearest me was nervous. “I’m more nervous about the shot than COVID,” she told us. A few of the group were here for the second dose; two of us were there for the first one. They didn’t call us by name, they just asked who wanted to go first. I wasn’t in a hurry and I imagined other people where anxious. So I waited.

When it came round to the last two of, it was me, and the nervous woman. I asked if she wanted to go, and she insisted I go first.

The process was quick and no more painful than a flu shot. The only difference I noticed was that the person administering the shot kind of pinched my muscle to pull it out before inserting the needle.

When it was over, I sat chatting with the other members of the group for 15 minutes and then headed home.

Ten hours later, the injection sight is a little sore, but not as sore as after getting a flu shot, and not nearly as sore as after getting a tetanus shot. Otherwise, I feel perfectly fine, no other side-effects, so far, which is good, because tomorrow (Saturday as I write this), I’ve got a day of driving ahead of me.

We “pre-registered” with the local county, but hadn’t yet heard from them when these open appointments became available at the grocery stores. In an amusing irony, late this afternoon, both Kelly and I received a notification from the county saying that we could now register for our vaccine. The email provided links for registering. Too late!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

When I woke up, most of the soreness in my arm was gone. Indeed, the only lingering side-effect I felt was some weariness. But this may not have been related to the vaccine. Instead, it may have been due to driving for 10-1/2 hours, 2 hours of which were in stop-and-go traffic. Vaccine or not, that will wear anyone out.

So for me, the 1st dose of the vaccine had minimal side-effects, which mostly involved a slightly sore arm. Other than that, I feel fine.

Stay-tuned for Episode 2, coming in about 3 weeks.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

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