My Turn

Last week my husband was vaccinated:  I have been waiting for my turn.  I thought it would happen next week when the eligibility opens up to all 16 and older.  Although I do have some "qualifications" that enabled me to get it earlier (I have high blood pressure that is kept at bay with minimal medication and I am overweight, so my BMI is most likely  ≥ 25 kg/m2), I have been waiting.  In my mind there are others who are in greater need than I am.

Knowing that the date of lower qualifications was coming up, I started researching where I might go.  I really wanted J&J because of my allergies and I had found no adverse ALLERGIC reactions.  (Yes, I know that some people felt lightheaded and had nausea, which is something to be concerned about and taken seriously, but for me that is a lot more manageable than anaphylaxis.)  Last week we also got the news about the issue with J&J production.  So I did worry that getting this particular vaccine would be a challenge.

My county site (where my husband got his vaccination) was offering both J&J and Moderna, but when I filled out the form, they did not want to take me due to my allergies.  They recommended that I go to my physician (I've been on their waiting list since the beginning) or a hospital setting.  Both of which make sense.  If you have a history of anaphylaxis, you want to be in a place where they can take care of you ASAP IF a reaction occurs.

Yesterday, a friend who has been helping people get vaccinations (NEVER turn down help when it comes to Covid-19...this is a time when we ALL need help), texted me that a hospital about 20 miles away had J&J available.  I stopped what I was doing (attending a virtual church service) and checked it out.  Imagine my surprise when I saw that they had appointments that day.  I knew that the time had come.

I filled out the form(s) and booked at 12:30 appointment.  I was apprehensive.  I was nervous.  (Okay, I was a little bit of a wreck.)  BUT I needed to do this.

My husband was good enough to go along with me.  He would have to sit in the car and wait; much longer than I had to for him because I would need to be monitored for 30 minutes due to my history.  It was a crappy day too; so he couldn't even get out and stretch his legs while he waited.  (That's love!)

His support was definitely needed.  When we got to the hospital (early because I wasn't sure where I was going), we were told they were running behind and to wait in the car.  Outdoor security staff kept us all informed.  They would yell out when a time slot could get in the line.  They were still working on noontime until about 12:20, at which point they were allowing 12:15 people to get on line.  It wasn't until 12:45 or so that my 12:30 group was called.  Since we'd been sitting in the car waiting for 45 minutes already, I was so grateful for his company. (REALLY grateful!)

The process was well handled and taken in steps:

  1. Stand in line until it was your turn.  In a vestibule, a nurse asked what time slot you were in, took your temperature, gave you hand sanitizer, and asked you to review items on a sign they had posted to make sure that you qualified.
  2. Moving inside the building another nurse asked for your name and identification.  Took a bit to find me since I had booked that morning and was not on their print out.  She had to do a quick check on the computer before she sent me off to the next station.
  3. There were 6 separate stations where your insurance information was taken.
  4. Then you moved on to another line which moved pretty quickly.  A nurse would then escort you to a vaccination station.
  5. At the station, I sat down and reviewed my allergy history with the nurse.  I DID tell her that I was anxious (and I probably blathered on too much.)  I reviewed the ingredients in the vaccination; as far as I knew I was allergic to none. (But they were pretty intense.  Had I ever even "experienced" recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein?)  I filled out a form, got my vaccination card (which she encouraged me to take a photo of) and then was told to relax my arm.  (Obviously the nurse didn't know me very well!  I don't DO relax!)  The shot was given.  I picked up my stuff and was shown to the waiting/observation area.
  6. Observation area was broken down into "blue" (15 minute wait) and "red" (30 minutes).  The area was run by a wonderful nurse by the name of Meghan who impressed the heck out of me.  She checked each person in, told them where to sit and informed each and every one of us that if we had an issue to raise our hand and shout out Meghan; DO NOT STAND.  She was so attentive to everyone in the room (as she should be); making sure everyone (particularly us "reds") was doing ok and calling out names to be dismissed every 5 or so minutes.  
  7. After 30 minutes I was told I could leave and went out into the downpour to drive home.  The whole trek from leaving (early to get there) to getting home took about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Observations and comments:

  • Everyone I interacted with at the hospital was extremely professional and kind.  
  • I can't say the same about the woman behind me in the line (so glad she was behind as she held up the line for a LONG time when checking in as she and her husband went to the wrong door and spent a good hunk of time complaining about the directions to the vaccination clinic area).  There's always one person right?  She complained the whole way (all while her mask kept slipping off her nose.)  And lucky me, she and her husband sat right next to me in the observation area. (I was so thrilled to hear about how crazy this whole vaccination process is and that pharmacies and supermarkets are making big bucks off of this.)
  • I was really glad Meghan, an ICU nurse, was in charge of the observation area.  Because of her my apprehension went away.  She said in comparison to her normal day this was easy. While it may have been easier than the ICU form, I don't think this was an easy job.  I never want to end up in an ICU, but if I did at this hospital (highly unlikely), I'd want Meghan on my team.
  • The thirty minute post vaccine wait went very quickly as I talked to a woman and her son.  They both had allergies; so we had that to discuss.  My husband was also texting me to see how things were going and was doing his best to keep me amused.  I never really even had time to read the book I brought along.
  • Side effects:  Nothing much.  My arm was a little sore.  I didn't sleep that well, but that probably has less to do with the vaccine and more to do with the fact that I hydrated afterwards and had to go to the bathroom a lot!  As a result I'm tired this morning (but its Monday and crappy out which doesn't help things).  I also had a slight headache.  Took a Tylenol and am not sure if it's vaccine related or the result of allergies (pollen is high).  The strangest side effect is that I have red splotches on my upper legs.  They are NOT hives; they do not itch.  They do not hurt.  They are only on my upper legs (above the knee) and only on the front.  I noticed them last night and they seem to be fading a bit.  They don't bother me, but I will keep an eye on it.  (I'm overactive and paranoid...I'll keep an eye on it!)

So now I am vaccinated.  But that doesn't mean I won't stop being cautious.  I'll still wear my mask.  I'll still remain socially distant.  I will still wash my hands.  And I will encourage everyone who is able (because there are the rare few who are NOT able) to get vaccinated when you are able.  Even if you are scared; find a support buddy and do it.  I did...and you can too.


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