A Dose of Optimism with the Covid-19 Vaccine

Yesterday I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine for Covid-19. Beyond the actual health implications for myself, I perceived this moment as somewhat symbolic for a year that really couldn’t get much worse. It will not immediately go back to normal in 2021. Still, considering the new year holiday is next week (calendar new year). My birthday a week after that (personal new year), it seems like this shot’s timing is in line with the idea of turning a corner to something better.

I was actually quite surprised I was approved to take the vaccine first. I was certainly impressed with the process from FDA approval to my arm. For clarity, I am a first responder. I would write about how I became a volunteer firefighter. Instead, I realize I have enough there for a separate post. The point is, I am on scene at car wrecks and medical emergencies, coming in close contact with strangers who can potentially be spreading a virus or disease.

Earlier this month, when the government was getting ready to approve the Pfizer vaccine, a survey was released through the state EMS system for all first responders. I was asked to fill out my DOB, any high-risk health issues related to Covid. I am 31 and pretty healthy. I was determined to be low-risk, which wasn’t a surprise, and assumed I wouldn’t get vaccinated until Q1 of 2021. Last Thursday, Dec. 17, the FDA approved the Moderna vaccine in the morning hours. By afternoon, I had received an email from our Battalion Chief that I was, in fact, approved for the vaccine as early as the following week and needed to respond ASAP to claim a spot. I didn’t hesitate.

I drove down to the county AgExpo yesterday, where the vaccine is being administered. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos, but it looked like a scene from a movie with workers in full gowns, masks, gloves, and face shields. I provided my paperwork and sat in line in my car. The whole process was a drive-through. I lifted my shirt sleeve and got my shot along with a proof of vaccination card. Everyone else in line was fellow firefighters, cops, or EMS professionals, from what I could tell, and the whole process took 35 minutes. After, I was told to sit in my car for 15 minutes in the parking lot to ensure I didn’t have any reactions, and if I did, to honk my horn and put on my emergency blinkers. I had no issues.

It’s been about 15 hours, and I’m up early writing this at 5:30 AM. No severe side effects in terms of sickness, but I will say my left deltoid where they injected the shot is pretty damn sore. I go back for my second dose on Jan. 20, and until then, I am at the same amount of risk for catching the virus. I’m not in the clear yet, but I’m pleased that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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