Story and photo by Johnny Media
I’m one of those lucky few, the able-bodied, no preexisting condition having, American humans who were able to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Let me walk you through how that experience went and what that day entailed.
To say scheduling the appointment time was easy would be selling the experience short. Calling it “easy” would be describing it more difficult than it was. It was effortless, unchallenging, and straightforward.
In total, to get from the health department home page to the completion of the process and confirmation of my appointment was a total of about 6 clicks of the mouse. In the middle of those clicks was a short information page where I had to share my name, age, date of birth, as well as my insurance information (though if you didn’t have insurance, you could skip that last part). I picked a day and a time and I was done and scheduled. I’ve had more issues ordering gifts off Amazon than I did scheduling this appointment.
I had scheduled my shot for Friday April 2, 2021. I opted for a morning time slot as I had a few Zoom meetings and a Twitch stream planned for later that afternoon. As I mentioned at the top, I’m lucky, not just because I was able to schedule my appointment at all, but also because of my location in the world. The clinic that I was able to schedule my shot at was only about a five minute walk from my front door. Because I live in Monmouth, I was able to go to the pop-up clinic set up in the Werner University Center at Western Oregon University.
As I departed my home and embarked on my journey to the COVID-19 vaccine, I couldn’t help but admire the gorgeous Spring weather we had. A few high clouds here and there but otherwise a bright and sunny Friday morning filled with blooming flowers and budding trees.
In my short journey, I passed a handful of people out enjoying this fine day. Couples taking a stroll, a college student leash training their Jack Russell in between classes, someone walking back with their breakfast burrito from Koyote’s.
As I passed each of them I pictured the not too distant future we’re headed towards in which some of these people will feel comfortable without a mask on while doing these everyday chores. I pictured myself in such a situation and thoughts started filling my head as I followed the plethora of signs pointing me towards my future.
How liberating it’ll feel to take family walks this summer without that mask covering our faces. Will I be comfortable enough to go in stores if the mask mandate is lifted in summer or fall? How weird is it going to be to see people’s mouths again in public? It’s going to be much harder to talk to myself as I shop, I might continue wearing my mask just for that fact alone.
Before I could think too long on these nearing futures, I arrived at my destination. I was expecting something big and grand. Maybe something like the queues at Disneyland or something? Instead, I was met by a friendly Western Oregon security guard and a nurse in a high visibility vest holding a clipboard.
After we all did the typical Oregonian coming out of the depths of winter, where we comment on the weather and the sun as if it’s the first time we’ve ever seen either, the nurse asked me “Dose one or dose two for you today?” as if I were ordering a Starbucks drink. I replied with, “one please,” and they directed me towards a few wolf paw print decals on the ground, spaced out every 6-feet.
They led me to a reception desk where two other nurses with laptops greeted me with the same drink order question of “dose one or dose two?” before I ever reached the front of the desk. I threw up one finger, as I didn’t want to shout across this large open and empty space.
One of the nurses responded by asking for my name. I gave the “Johnny Media, M E D I A” response that’s been ingrained in me over my thirty-plus years of people not knowing how to pronounce or spell my slightly unique name. Through their mask, they confirmed that I was there on time and pointed me to an empty zig-zagging maze of plastic ropes and more decals stuck to the floor 6 feet apart.
At the end of the robe maze designed for hundreds but solely used by me at that moment, I found a huge convention room, and at the entrance, 6 tables and a mob of masked intake individuals ready to help dozens of people at once and met by just me. A shower of green lamented cards rose from the desks and I was directed to one of these lovely folks. After confirming my non-expired, state or federal ID, I then followed another path of decals to an area of 20 vaccine stations all manned and ready to go. Met by another sea of raising green cards I walked over to my at-the-moment personal nurse.
As I went to sit down, my nurse asked me if I had any questions. I didn’t, having been following the vaccines and the testings for the better part of the last five months. I foolishly wore a long-sleeve button-up so I had to unbutton and pop out my left arm. While doing that, my nurse went over the type of vaccine I was about to get and the expectations of the next 24 to 48 hours post receiving my prick.
I told them I appreciated the information, set my arm up, got into a shot receiving position and was poked in the upper part of my left arm. Once the bandaid was placed over the tiny hole that they priced into my skin, I popped my arm back into my shirt, buttoned my dog print long-sleeve back up, and walked to the designated waiting area.
I walked to one of the 50 chairs spaced six feet apart in this wildly empty convention room. I had 15 minutes (the mandatory waiting time you have once you receive the first shot) to wait and contemplate that new future that I was now headed towards. I threw on my “pop-punk” playlist on my phone and texted my wife. I let her know that I got the shot, I didn’t feel it, and that the injection site doesn’t hurt at this point either. I let her know I’d be home in about 18 to 20 minutes and then I’d be jumping straight into my numerous Zoom meetings for that day.
That made the 15 minutes fly by and I got up and walked to the door. As I looked back to take in this moment, I saw a member of the cleaning crew go to my empty chair and instantly disinfect it. Another person in a high-visibility vest held the door for me and thanked me for coming in. I nodded and said, “thank you,” and started my short walk home in the beautiful Spring weather.
Once home, I started my onslaught of Zoom and streaming as if it was any other quarantine Friday in Spring. About 10 hours after the inoculation, my arm did get very sore and was tough to lift above my shoulder. I had no issues sleeping and when I woke for the next day my arm only felt sore in the way that it does when you have a heavy workout day.
Occasional bumping it was sore here and there, but my life is back to normal as if I didn’t get a state-of-the-art vaccine injected into my body. I can’t wait for April 30 when I get my chance to drink up “dose two” and do my part to help try and keep those around me safe and healthy as well as put this whole pandemic behind us as a nation and a connected world.
I don’t know if at this point we’ll ever have a “back to normal” but it’s nice to think that we might at least have less stress and worry in the world. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most.