Getting Vaccinated: Expectations vs. Reality

COVID Vaccine Photo by Daniel Schludi from Unsplash A little over a week ago, I scheduled my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I wasn’t fully sure of which one I was going to get, but five days ago, I got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. I’m scheduled to get my second dose in a few weeks from now.

I got qualified to get my vaccine just recently. During school breaks, I’m a substitute teacher at my local elementary school. While there, I work with kids in first through fifth grades specifically, and sometimes work with middle school kids. During winter break, I was assigned a specific group of kids who were in first and second grade. Because of this, I was put into the essential workers category, specifically in the area of teaching. 

I was the first of my friends to get the vaccine. In the area that I live, people are quite hesitant about the vaccine, but like any other one I’ve had in my life, I was ready to get it over with. I, like many other college students, want to experience a normal life again. Or, even something remotely similar to our old normal. 

I expected the shot to be painful. From everything that I’ve heard from community members in my hometown, they overall said that it would be a waste of time, and can be “very dangerous.” Or, that’s what they heard at least (most of them didn’t even get the vaccine yet). There’s an awful stigma of the vaccine in certain areas of society, and I’m not entirely sure why. Like any other vaccines, it has been carefully tested, and has gone through numerous test trials...this was just sped up a little bit.

I got my first dose on a Monday morning, a couple of hours before my first class of the day. My father and I went together, as he had just recently become qualified as well (but for a different category). We took a 40-minute car ride to the closest vaccine site, which for that day was at Walgreens. In my county, we are very limited with many things, and that includes vaccination sites. The earliest site in my county would’ve been a month from now. 

We both checked in pretty quickly, as the crowd was limited to about ten people. Half of them already got their shots, and were required to hang out for about 15 minutes to see if they had an allergic reaction to the vaccine. Within 15 minutes of us being there, we were ushered into the vaccination room. 

The nurse said that it was the least painful shot she’s gotten, at least, the first dose was. She assured me that I would feel fine after the shot, just a little bit of soreness in the arm. She also stated that the older you are, the less that you will be affected by it. She also stated that the second dose will mess me up for a couple of days, and will give me flu-like symptoms. So, according to the nurse, it can affect me quite a bit. It took the nurse less than 30 seconds to give me the shot, from cleaning the area, to injecting it. It was the smallest, and most painless vaccine I’ve had. The flu vaccine has messed me up more than this one. 

My father and I waited around for the 15 required minutes, and left feeling perfectly fine. By the time I made it home, I had 10 minutes to spare before my first class. I got onto the Zoom call, and within 30 minutes, I started feeling a little tired. Then, once my class ended, it hit me super hard. I slept for the remainder of the day, and definitely forgot to submit one or two of my assignments. Oops! Woman Sitting on Chair While Leaning on Laptop Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Though my experience with getting the vaccine was pretty seamless, I have heard of some people having a hard time getting their shot. For example, my aunt (who lives about 30 minutes away from Binghamton, NY), was crammed into a tiny waiting room in a hospital with other people getting their shots. My aunt also had my uncle with her, who can’t walk on his own. Due to overcrowding and overall urgency to get everyone vaccinated, the system as a whole in that facility was very dysfunctional. My aunt and uncle, who are over 80 years old, were part of the first group who were qualified to get the vaccine. Hopefully, that hospital has been able to make the vaccination process a little easier for other patients by now. This is the type of dysfunctionality I was expecting, but I’m thankful that it wasn’t like this. 

Though it knocked me out for about a day, I would say that it was worth getting the vaccine. I might feel different by the time I get my second dose, but at least I’m able to protect myself, and the ones I love. I expected the vaccine to be painful, and to hurt me for a few days. In reality, it only knocked me out for a day. That sacrifice of a day is totally worth it to me!