Working in a grocery store during a pandemic had finally paid off! In Jan. 2021, in New York State, I became eligible as a public-facing grocery store worker to get the COVID-19 vaccine. I felt incredibly lucky when I found out I was eligible; I would be the first person in my family to receive the vaccine and I was really excited.
Even though I made the appointment in January, I finally received the first dose of Pfizer vaccine just six days ago, on March 2. As I was standing in line, I was nervous and wished I had a prior account of what was about to happen.
So today, on March 8, I will write that account and I dedicate this to anyone getting their vaccine who was just as nervous as I was.
Just to clarify, I made my appointment on this website. On this site you’ll find all the criteria to see if you’re eligible, along with the ability to make an appointment at various locations throughout New York State. When you first sign up for your vaccination appointment, you receive a confirmation email along with an entrance “ticket” as proof of your appointment.
To your appointment, you will have to bring: your ID, your insurance information, your “entrance ticket”and your proof of eligibility. The day of the appointment, you will also have to fill out a confirmation survey that they will either email or text you earlier in the day.
With the technical information out of the way, let me talk about my experience getting the vaccine in Henrietta, NY.
The vaccination site was the Rochester Dome, a very large arena that normally holds events and gatherings for the people in Rochester. I parked my car, said goodbye to my boyfriend and collected myself as I walked into the giant dome.
I should pause and mention that I am terrified of needles and injections and anything like that. I don’t know why, I always have been. Hence why I brought my boyfriend with me, even though he couldn’t actually come into the dome with me.
I walked into the dome, my heart racing, trying not to think about what was actually going to happen. The first thing I noticed was the sheer amount of people that were waiting in line for their vaccines. It had to be hundreds of people, which made me smile under my mask. That many people were getting vaccinated every hour of every day! That’s a huge step in our effort towards a return to normalcy after this pandemic hit. After you first walk in, you get your temperature checked and an informational pamphlet about the vaccination you are about to receive. This pamphlet contains the benefits and potential side effects of the injection.
After sitting at a table and having all your information reviewed, they hand you a ticket with your information and split you into two lines based on whether it’s your first or second dose. Being my first, I entered the appropriate line and began to wait. I waited for around 15 minutes before another table opened up, and a very nice worker brought me over to my vaccination table.
Every worker I talked to on my way to this table was incredibly nice. If it came up in conversation, I would mention my phobia of needles and they would always try to console me, sometimes agreeing with my irrational fear.
I sat down in the chair next to a little table, with a nurse and a worker at a computer at either side of it. The worker went over my information one more time, making sure I wasn’t allergic to any vaccines or had any autoimmune diseases that may complicate my vaccination process. When everything looked good, I pulled the collar of my sweater down and gave the nurse a nervous smile.
Knowing that I was extremely nervous, the kind worker at the computer walked over in front of me, to talk and distract me while the nurse gave me my shot. I really appreciated this—he definitely didn’t have to do that—but it gave me a sense of calm having someone to talk to so I didn’t have to focus on the needle.
After the shot, you are instructed to sit in one of the many folding chairs spread throughout the floor and wait for 15 minutes before you are allowed to leave. This period is for the workers and nurses to make sure you don’t have any immediate side effects from the vaccine.
After my time was up, I took a selfie in front of the banner they had put up that read “I Got the Shot” and made my way back to my car.
Overall, the process was much easier than I thought it was going to be. It didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would and everyone there was so pleasant, it made the experience much better. As far as side effects, I personally did not experience anything more than just general arm pain a day or two after the injection. However, that does not mean side effects are unheard of even after just the first shot.
To anyone who is nervous to get the vaccine, I totally understand. I’m simply offering my perspective and I must say, it was a lot easier than I anticipated. I hope everyone is able to stay safe and I urge you to get vaccinated if you are eligible.