On Tuesday afternoon, I drove out to the MSU Pavilion in East Lansing to get my first dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine.
I’d registered with several different places. Hospitals, drug stores, grocery stores … but the county health department was the first place where I could go ahead and schedule an appointment.
I’d expected to be in the group for folks under 65 with preexisting conditions, thanks to the diabetes. Michigan hasn’t quite gotten to them yet. But they did open things up for caretakers of children with special needs.
I was torn about this. Technically, there’s no question that I’d qualify. But I second guessed whether I deserved to get in line yet. And I’m still confused why the caretakers for the kids get their shots, but not the kids — even the kids over 16.
But after talking to someone at the health department and reading the advice from professionals (if you qualify, go ahead and get the vaccine), I went ahead and signed up.
I know every state is rolling things out differently, and even within the same state, you may have a very different experience from one place to the next. But I was really impressed with how smoothly everything went.
I got there about ten minutes early, because it’s me. A man in a vest separated the cars into two lines, depending on whether you were there for your first or second shot. As we waited in line, other people checked our IDs and gave us paperwork to fill out.
In less than ten minutes, I was pulling into the pavilion. They had maybe ten lanes set up for us to pull into.
Another person came by, took my paperwork, and wrote a 1 on my windshield with a grease pencil (for First Shot). a few minutes later, I was getting my shot, all without ever leaving the car.
It stung a little more than my flu shot, but much less than the blood draw from a few weeks back. And it only hurt for a half second. Then I got a tiny band aid on my dragon tattoo, and was told to chill for 15 minutes so they could make sure I didn’t have a reaction.
I played a little Pokémon Go. They came by several times to check on me. They also gave me my card and scheduled me for my second shot at the end of the month.
And then our row was starting up our cars and driving away. The whole thing, from arrival to leaving, took well under an hour.
My shoulder was a bit sore the next day. It felt like I had a bruise. Not bad, but definitely noticeable. Today, it’s pretty much back to normal.
I’m told the second shot can hit you harder. I’ll plan on taking it easy after that one. But so far, this has been very mild.
I know a lot of people are justifiably frustrated at the inconsistent rollout of the vaccine. Groups who’ve already been vaccinated in one state are still on the waiting list in another. This is absolutely not meant to be a gloating “I got mine!” post. But I’ve had people ask questions about the experience, so I figured it might help to share exactly what the process was like for me.
I’m still going to be careful. I’m still going to wear masks and avoid social gatherings.
And I’m still incredibly impatient for the day when all of my friends and loved ones are protected from this thing.
March 11, 2021 @ 2:59 pm
Congrats! I had my first one almost 2 weeks ago and it’s a relief.
And no need to be torn about it. Remember, not only are you the caretaker for a child with a disability, you are the SOLE caretaker. I know it hurts to remember that, but it’s an important consideration – you are at high risk of having a severe case leading to hospitalization and your son needs you. Taking care of yourself is taking care of him.
March 11, 2021 @ 3:09 pm
R- and I are only two data points, but for us the second Pfizer shot was much like the first. Only real difference was a sudden definite frontal headache while driving home (about a 40 minute drive) that yielded quickly to a single 500mg dose of Tylenol and did not come back later. Shot itself didn’t hurt; the sore arm was about the same as the first shot (though maybe lasted 6 hours or so longer. Maybe a little tireder the next day but hard to tell–weather had changed to much colder and windy, so harder to to outside chores.
March 13, 2021 @ 4:57 pm
I got mine yesterday (Astra Zeneka as I’m British and rural). I had to ring up to arrange mine as I got re-assessed as belonging in a higher risk group which had already been vaccinated locally. I felt rather guilty that I was causing admin work by ringing instead of waiting but I have hospital appointments soon and my daughter, who lives with me goes back to work in a couple of weeks in a public facing job and I’ll cause the NHS many more problems if I catch the virus given that I’m identified as very vulnerable medically. It took under five minutes start to finish as my daughter was driving so I didn’t have to wait to see if I reacted. I didn’t, and like you, Jim, I have a sore-ish arm which is neither here nor there.
Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little
March 15, 2021 @ 12:02 am
I’m so happy for you! Thanks for sharing your experience. I know someone who recently got the J&J single dose, and she was down for the count for two days. No regrets, obviously.
Here in Colorado, Gov. Polis has announced that he expects vaccines will be available to everyone 16 and up who wants one by mid-April – and he’s also inched up the timeline for phase 1b.4, for which I may qualify, will start on March 19. I’ve got my annual physical exam on the 22nd and will shoot my GP a note to see whether, if I do qualify, it could be as easy as just taking care of it then.
Until then, I have exactly zero vaccine jealousy – I’m just that much happier every time I hear of someone else in the “herd” getting their jab.
March 15, 2021 @ 10:54 am
I got lucky. I am not in the current group (but will be at the end of this month), but my mom suggested walking in to the pharmacy to see. I figured this was just wishful thinking, but the pharmacist said there were some no-shows and they had one extra and they would give it to me.