With 2020 being a year like no other, I felt some much-needed optimism when COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna received federal clearance. I was even more appreciative to be one of the 24 million Americans to receive the vaccine so far and begin the initial steps to the normalcy we have all been hoping for.
For me, the process began when I put my name on a waitlist at my local department of health on the day I became eligible. To my (pleasant) surprise I received a call back the following day to receive my Moderna vaccine and had my appointment for later that same week.
Before The Appointment
My prep for the vaccine included getting a good night’s rest and preparing some paperwork I was asked to bring to the appointment. I also made sure to drink plenty of water and eat something before going to the appointment.
If you’re receiving the vaccine, my first tip is to arrive early and expect to wait at the various steps of the process.
On the day of my appointment, I arrived 30 minutes early, and there was already a line out the door. There were only seven people allowed in the waiting room at a time to maintain social distancing and only a limited number of examination rooms inside of the building.
When you finally do reach the front of the line, expect a medical screening. This includes getting your temperature checked, and answering questions about any recent symptoms and history of allergic reactions. Once you complete the first screening and sign a consent form, you go into the waiting room
I waited about 20 minutes or so before I was called back. This was it. My first steps to normalcy. I could not help but feel sheer excitement walking towards the nurse.
In the examination room, the nurse asked me more questions and then left the room to get my dose. She explained that the vaccines were being thawed from the very low temperatures needed for transport.
A few minutes later, she came back to the room. I rolled up my sleeve with pride, prepared my phone’s selfie camera (I couldn’t help myself), and snapped a picture as the needle went into my upper arm. She placed a bandaid then filled out a card with the date, time, and manufacturing information for the vaccine I had received. She then placed a sticker on my shirt with the time of my injection and walked me into another room.
Remember, I said to expect to do a lot of waiting. I was in a room with other recently-vaccinated people. There’s a mandatory observation period for severe allergic reactions (which are rare). When that was done I walked into my final stop for the day, where I scheduled the appointment for my second injection four weeks later.
Later that day, I felt soreness at the site of the injection and had a mild headache. I expected these based on the common side effects from the clinical trials of the vaccines.
My symptoms were pretty minor, and I felt better after I drank more water and took two Tylenol. The soreness in my arm continued into the following day but was gone by the day after.
I haven’t received my second dose yet. From what I know, the side effects from the second dose are generally more severe, but I still can’t wait for my appointment next week.