This week, we both received our first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. After finding out that we were eligible in the state of Rhode Island, it took some research, planning, and good luck to secure appointments and eventually get our shots. After a week-long ordeal, we are reflecting on our experiences before, during, and after!
Getting Appointments: Once we became eligible, we started looking for appointments anywhere in Rhode Island, willing to drive any distance within the state to secure the vaccine. Only after 5 consecutive days of checking the online platforms for Walgreens, CVS, Stop & Shop, and the Rhode Island Department of Health did we finally find appointment slots early on a Saturday morning for the following week. Unfortunately, our times were both on different days and in different locations across Rhode Island.
Maddie: I woke up early one weekend morning and decided to check the appointment schedule for the upcoming week. Luckily, I found many slots available and was able to confirm times for both Bea and me. I scheduled my vaccine at the Walgreens in Pawtucket, just 15 minutes away from campus. After answering a few questions and (virtually) signing forms, it was booked!
Bea: Waking up early to secure a vaccine appointment is key! At least for Walgreens, new appointments are listed early every morning, so in order to secure a spot, you have to get up pretty early to sign up for an available appointment. I recommend trying to land an appointment at the same time as a friend. My laptop kept reloading when I was trying to make my appointment, but luckily, Maddie was able to log into my account on her computer to help me register for my long-awaited vaccine appointment. Ultimately, I was able to schedule my appointment at Walgreens in Woonsocket which is a 25-minute drive from campus.
The Vaccine: We both got our first dose of Pfizer this week!
Maddie: When I went to Pawtucket for my 3:15 appointment, I was told to arrive at least 15 minutes early with my ID, insurance card, and appropriate consent forms. The vaccines are distributed via the pharmacy section of the store. When I arrived, there was a specific window at the pharmacy counter labeled “COVID Vaccine Check-In.” The woman who helped me was very nice and efficiently checked me into the system after confirming my appointment and insurance. I only waited 5 minutes before I was taken to a separate room and administered my vaccine. The shot itself was relatively painless, but I was told to sit and wait for 15 minutes after in case of an allergic reaction. Thankfully, Bea kept me company in the Walgreens waiting area for that time!
Bea: I had a very similar experience to Maddie even though we got our vaccines at different Walgreens locations. Arriving early for your appointment is definitely a good idea. I arrived super early to mine and was able to check-in and get the actual shot right when I got there. Even though no one forced either of us to sit and wait for the entire 15 minutes after we were given our first shot, it is important to wait those 15 minutes just to be safe.
The Aftermath: The CDC explains that common side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech included pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site, along with fatigue, headache, joint pain, fever, and chills.
Maddie: The most noticeable side effect I experienced, other than pain in my arm, was extreme fatigue. I got my vaccine in the afternoon on Monday, and, by early in the evening, I was exhausted. I ended up going to bed before 10 pm that night. When I woke up the next morning, though, I had a bad headache, but it quickly subsided with water, Tylenol, and coffee. I was left feeling slightly tired with consistent pain in my arm for a couple of days. However, less than a week later, I feel completely back to normal and grateful to have my vaccine.
Bea: I also experienced extreme fatigue after I got my first dose of the vaccine. Like Maddie, I was pretty tired later in the evening the day I got my vaccine. However, the next day was the worst for me. I could barely keep my eyes open in the afternoon and ended up taking a very long nap. Two days after my vaccine I was feeling mostly back to normal though. Overall, I am excited that I was able to get vaccinated!