CREW: A 'shot' of hope

When the COVID-19 vaccination rollout began, I took a quiz on Facebook (don’t judge) to see where I would fall in line to be vaccinated.

After answering a few questions, the results showed that 238 million people were ahead of me. I was not encouraged. Mentally, I prepared myself for the long wait.

I thought, “OK, I can continue to take precautions for another year.”

Then, after 2020 was left behind and all eyes were on the new year, things began to pick up on the vaccination front.

The eligibility group began to include more individuals, and President Joe Biden pledged 1 million vaccines a day, and I began to get hopeful that the 238 million mark would come sooner than expected.

When eligibility was extended to 65 and up, I started to get excited. I thought maybe by the end of the summer, I would be able to move up in line. And I was OK with that. By July or August, I could finally visit my children in New York and Texas once again.

While waiting, I read somewhere, that some vaccine administrators were calling people from the waitlist to come in without an appointment, if they got to the end of the day and had vaccines left over, because they didn’t want them to go to waste.

I thought this might be my chance to jump ahead of that 238 millionth slot, so I signed up.

I registered on every waitlist site available, hoping to get a call.

Then, on March 3, Gov. Whitmer expanded eligibility to include 50 and up. That got me hopeful that it may happen even sooner than anticipated — that the 238 million number was even more quickly approaching.

But when I got the call from the health department about two days later to schedule my vaccine appointment, I have to say, I was surprised. I did not expect it to happen that quickly.

After scheduling, I was ready to celebrate. My husband and I were both scheduled for the same time, same date. We called our children to let them know, so they could get excited about our impending visits!

When the appointment time came, I was a little nervous. I am one those, “never got the flu vaccine” people. I don’t care much for shots.

I have had vaccines before, but this was a new vaccine. It had not been time-tested.

I knew several people that had already gotten their first dose, and everything went well for them, and I knew I was going to do it, regardless of any reservations, so I proceeded in good faith.

Given the precise timing of the appointment – not 11 a.m., or 11:30 a.m., but precisely 11:10 a.m. – I thought it would be a fairly quick, in and out, situation, sort of like a vaccination assembly line.

But alas, no.

The experience was all that you might expect when dealing with a medical establishment of any sort, which was slightly disappointing.

Start to finish, the whole process took about 40 minutes, which was not that bad, but longer than I expected.

We arrived at the health department about 10 minutes before our appointment, because they told us there would be paperwork to complete.

Outside the door, they took our names, checked us off the list and informed of the process, and sent us inside to begin the paperwork.

After picking up our clipboards, we proceeded to the “waiting area” where all the chairs were already filled.

We were told we could go into the conference room and wait, so we did, as did several others. We completed the paperwork and turned it in, and we waited.

11:10 (our appointment time) came and went. And we waited. 11:15 came and went. And we waited.

Finally, at 11:20, we were called back to the registration window where we answered some more questions. We were told we would be receiving the Pfizer vaccine and received our second dose appointment cards.

And we waited.

Around 11:30, we were taken back to a small room by a Ferris State nursing student to receive the vaccine.

She explained the procedure and told us, again, about the vaccine we would be getting, then asked if we were ready, and we said yes.

My husband went first. When she held the needle up to his arm, I had to look away. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but something inside me said, “Don’t watch.”

Then it was my turn. I rolled up my sleeve and prepared myself for the stick. Again, I looked away, hoping that would lessen the impact.

It stung, as I suspected it would. I don’t like shots. But all things considered, it was not too bad.

The friendly nursing student then explained all the possible side effects of the vaccine and asked us to wait in our car for 15 minutes before leaving the premises — in case of an adverse reaction. That did not help my anxiety.

We waited, but after 10 minutes, we decided it was OK to leave.

We did not suffer any adverse side effects.

After about two hours, my husband said he didn’t even feel any soreness in his arm at all.

My arm, however, hurt for about three days. But that was not surprising to me. When I got the shingles vaccine, it hurt for a week.

Later in the day, after receiving the vaccine, I felt a little neck stiffness, but whether that could be attributed to the vaccine or not, I do not know.

Over the next two or three days, I experienced some joint pain, but I’m not sure that was a side effect of the vaccine, so much as a side effect of the aging process – but let’s not go there.

All in all, it was a fairly painless experience, and I am glad to have been able to get the vaccine.

We are now halfway on the road to COVID-19 protection, and I could not be more excited. I went from 238 million, to the head of the line in much less time than I had anticipated, and for that I am grateful.

I have heard that the second dose is worse that the first. I will muster my strength and power through it, just the same.

I believe we are on the road to recovery from this pandemic, although the impact may be felt for some time to come.

Cathie Crew is a reporter for the Herald Review. She can be reached at cathie.crew@pioneergroup.com.