First Vaccine: Check!

Like I assume all of you, I’ve been watching the vaccine rollout closely. This is the best/only path toward something like normalcy anytime soon, and it’s been encouraging to see those numbers in America slowly bump up. That said, as a healthy man in his 40s, I didn’t really think I’d be able to get a vaccine myself for another month or two at least. Maine just announced Friday that starting in mid-April, anyone could get a vaccine. That was encouraging, but I assumed as soon as that date arrived, the floodgates would open, and it would be very tricky to actually make an appointment.

So, basically, I was paying attention to the big picture of vaccines, but I wasn’t really doing anything to look into what I’d need to do personally to get one yet. I didn’t want to think too much about it, because I thought that would just make me more impatient. When President Biden announced he wanted all educators to have access to the vaccine right away, I was hopeful for a little bit that might include Denisa and me, since we’re both university employees. Reading the fine print (in multiple places), it was limited to K-12 educators. Which was fine. I’ve been working in person since August, and I haven’t felt really at risk, so I was content to wait my turn.

Imagine my surprise when Friday afternoon, I got an email from a friend at the university indicating Walmart was letting university employees get vaccinated. It went against everything I’d read (and I’d read a lot), and so I was really unwilling to believe it. “Let me know how that goes,” I believe I said, or something to that effect. If they were successful in getting it at Walmart, then maybe I’d start to think about it. But we had some more back and forth discussion about it, and a Walmart 40 minutes away had vaccine appointments available for the very next day. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was at least worth a short trip on a Saturday. I called the Walmart pharmacy, spoke with them in person, double checked I’d qualify, and then made my appointment.

Honestly, I still was thinking I’d get to Skowhegan only to find out that it had all been a misunderstanding. (What can I say? I put a lot of faith in my research skills, and what I was hearing went against everything I’d researched.) Also, I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to be let down again. But Saturday morning, my friend texted to say they’d gotten the vaccine, and sure enough, Denisa and I got it five hours later. It was about the same as getting my annual flu shot. There was no line; the appointments we made lined up right with when we came, and it was a very easy process. (It felt surreally American, to be getting the vaccine in a Walmart, but I’m not complaining.) My arm has hurt since I got it, much more than with a flu shot, but it’s down to an almost imperceptible ache now, two days later. I did feel a bit dizzy Saturday night, but felt 100% fine the next day and haven’t had any other side effects.

We’ll be getting out second dose in mid-April, and then about two weeks after that the full immunity should kick in. It’s a big relief that we’re already this far along in the process, especially because it means I’m starting to actually make plans again. Not huge plans, but plans nonetheless. Plans like:

  • Denisa and I taking a vacation for our 20th anniversary. We’re looking at Puerto Rico. It’s about as international as I’m willing to bet at the moment. It’s not Aruba like we had planned last year, but I think it’ll still be great.
  • Seeing my parents again. (My dad will be coming out from Utah at the beginning of May. We’ll drive down to see my mom and step-dad as soon as we can.)
  • Camping with friends in July
  • Seeing my cousin in Boston in June
  • Maybe a trip to Cape Cod?

I do realize that vaccination doesn’t necessarily mean total immunity to the disease. It’s still possible to catch it and spread it, though they’re doing more studies around that, and I hope they have more solid information around that in the coming weeks. And we’re not planning at the moment anything too extravagant. (This would typically be our year to go to Europe. I don’t think that’s going to happen, sadly. Both just from a “looking at the European case rate” standpoint and an “even if we could get there, what in the world would we be able to do?” mindset.)

But as I wrote last week, once I’m vaccinated, my willingness to go and do things is going to much, much greater. I will still happily where a face mask wherever I’m asked. To me, that’s such a low bar. It’s like being asked to wear a shirt or pants. If me doing that can help others, then why would I even hesitate to agree to it? I will also test if and when asked to, though again, I’m hoping they do away with testing requirements for vaccinated people soon. I look forward to more guidelines coming out. I definitely don’t want to do anything to endanger anyone, but I anticipate primarily interacting more and more with vaccinated people, both at work and personally.

You know life is improving when I start looking at rewards points again and begin to wonder where they might take me . . .


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