I got my second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in New York City on Saturday, an emotional experience. It was at one of the NYC vaccine hubs called PODs, set up by the Health Department. I had been working for 12 hour shifts once a week to help get New Yorkers vaccinated. The PODs were set up in high schools, mine was in the Bronx, and staffed by City employees as well as volunteers. You can find a site here giving vaccines near you.
I anticipated the second shot all day long.
The thought of being protected from COVID-19 severe infection or death was motivating me to work at the PODs. I saw hundreds of people come through to get their vaccines, first and second doses. My role was different each shift, from leading personnel activities onsite, to coordinating the flow of the people on the line from outside to inside the school where the vaccination stations were set up, and then to the waiting room – to be sure the vaccine didn’t cause any bad reactions before going home. Because I was patient-facing at the vaccine hub, I was eligible for the vaccine, and grateful to be.
The staff like me were eligible for vaccination at the end of the day, after all of the public appointments had been done. I kept thinking that it would not happen, and I would never be protected – an irrational but troubling thought. When my turn came, the POD leader made me an appointment in the online system. We didn’t run out of vaccine. As I pulled my sweater down over my shoulder to expose my upper arm, I felt anxious. The vaccinator was very calm and efficient. He injected what seemed like a lot of vaccine, put on a bandage, and it was done!
I felt a huge wave of relief. The vaccinator wrote in the details of my immunization on my immunization card, which I nearly forgot. that I carry it in my wallet. I hope it will help me in the coming months with travel and access.
I was heading back to my work position, checking in and charging iPads for the staff that they used to screen people on the line, when one of the managers told me, “No. We have to keep our eye on you. Just to make sure you are OK.” So I sat at an empty vaccination table, and felt tired after the rush of anticipation. By 15 minutes time, I could go back to my work. I needed to sit down, and felt more and more tired. That night everything was fine other than being tired, and I thought that I might not have the side effects of the second vaccine.
The following morning I had side effect symptoms all day of fever, body aches and pains, and an upset stomach. I was mostly lying in bed hoping I would get some energy back, but I didn’t until the next day after – when I still had a headache and dizziness. The whole time I kept thinking, “It is so good to be protected” from COVID. And I hope more and more New Yorkers will get vaccinated at the vaccine hubs and other giant sites set up around the city. The more people we can have protected, the better it will be for all of us, and especially for more vulnerable people who are at risk for severe COVID. I am so grateful for the discovery and production of the COVID vaccines. I appreciate the many health professionals and other volunteers working to get the vaccines out of the vials and into arms.
If you haven’t decided on the vaccine yet, I urge you to consider it. The side effects are annoying, but the relief is tremendous. Most people will be over 90% protected from getting COVID, and also protected from severe disease in the coming months or year. Find out more about vaccination here.