I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last week.
While I am considered “essential personnel” with my job in media, I truly did not believe I would have the opportunity to get my first shot until at least this summer, due to my age. Still, I registered online as soon as the form was available and prepared for a long wait.
However, on a Tuesday afternoon, I had missed “the call.” My voicemail lit up with what I thought was a telemarketer, I clicked the notification, only to find the voice of a nurse asking if I was interested in the vaccine. I immediately called back and was scheduled for the following day.
Now, you will remember just a few months ago I wrote a column entitled, “My first flu shot.” In it, I discussed my long-time fear of needles. “Now, I must include a caveat here: I do have piercings and tattoos, but for some reason, that is different in my mind. I get nervous, but I don’t pass out with new piercings or tattoos. However, shots and blood work usually knock me out. I can’t explain it.”
When I wrote that column, I did not know I would be facing the same fear, with a slightly larger needle in about six months.
I arrived at the vaccination site early and began the check-in process. Quiet, excited electricity hung in the air: here, in the parking lot of a primary care physician, we would be receiving the first key to a return to normal life.
The return to a normal life I am looking forward to the most, is, of course, seeing my family again. The coronavirus pandemic has kept me away from home for much longer than living and working in Colorado did a few years ago. Back then I flew back or drove back home periodically. In the past year, I’ve barely left this county.
My family has missed out on every birthday, holiday, and event since March of 2020. I turned 26, alone at my house, and made myself a single cupcake. I know, far from a tragedy, but I’ve made it a point in my life to surround myself with loved ones, and missing out on that community over no fault of my own, has been endlessly frustrating.
Still, I have been so good. That is my first thought every time I have scheduled a COVID test. Not that anyone did anything bad to catch COVID-19, far from it. I just mean that I have been borderline obsessive about my masks, hand sanitizer, and isolation. As I mentioned before, I have only left Mercer County a handful of times in the past year, most of those times were for work. Otherwise, I have gone to grocery stores and work. Some of my friends have been mourning the last few years of their 20s spent in quarantine and not out at nightclubs and such.
While I still have a ways to go before I turn 30, the time I am mourning from the past year is time lost with relatives and friends. My personality tends toward introversion, so I will definitely need some time before I re-enter a crowd, even after I am fully vaccinated.
Until then, I will wait for my second dose and be grateful for that unusually warm, spring afternoon, when I received my first dose of the life-saving vaccine. My arm hurt a bit, and I had a headache, but I was just fine. I encourage you to get the vaccine when you are eligible.
— Contact Emily Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @BDTrice