As an educator committed to returning to the classroom to support my students, I just received my first COVID19 vaccination.
The hardest part: obtaining a coveted appointment through myturn.ca.gov.
The easiest part: getting the actual shot. At some point I overcame my fear of needles. Or maybe it has to do with all the vaccine promises to do. Either way, I did it, and I hope you can soon do it, too.
Mass Vaccination Sites
Mass vaccination sites sound like they are straight out of a sci-fi thriller. But after my experience today, I believe this is the BEST way to get vaccinated for COVID19. At Solano County Fairgrounds a limited number of people can get vaccinated, so they need to adhere to the strictest tiers. But at the Oakland Coliseum their goal is to vaccinate 6,000 people a day. Can you imagine how many people could get vaccinated if we had more of these sites?
For my 1pm Drive-Thru appointment at the Oakland Coliseum, a.k.a. a mass vaccination site, I loaded up my car with my ride along companions: my already vaccinated parents who didn’t want their adult child driving into Oakland alone and our 64lb poodle, Felix. At the time, which was 12noon, I was a little annoyed we were bringing my dog as he was just one more responsibility for me as the driver.
It was a gorgeous drive. The Carquinez Strait was a reflective calm, Highway 24 between Walnut Creek and the tunnel was lush and green, and the clear views of San Francisco and the bay when we emerged from the Caldecott Tunnel were stunning.
At lunch hour on a Wednesday, the traffic on all freeways was light. At the exit, the signage for the site was obvious and easy to follow. In less than a minute I eased off Southbound 580 and through the Oakland Coliseum’s first gate. Two lanes of traffic marked with bright traffic cones directed the stream of cars into a slow slalom in the parking lot. There were more than enough essential workers, staffed by FEMA, Air Force, National Guard, and other military ranks I didn’t catch, functioning as traffic directors and question answerers and name takers.
After my driver’s license was checked and my name approved, I began the 5mph precession through the cones, which is much like waiting for a ride at Disneyland, except done in the comforts of a car. At 12:52pm I pulled into one of three shot stops, a.k.a. the main attraction, each located under a gigantic tent like structure, also very Disney-like. There was a car ahead of me, and to my right four lines of a few cars per line. A very friendly man checked my ID again and another joined him just to pet my dog Felix. Both were adorable about talking to Felix and petting him. Another worker stopped by to greet Felix. My dog is a magnet.
My guy who checked me in was friendly, reassuring and knowledgeable – in short: awesome.
A young man, an EMT or paramedic type not too many years out of high school, walked over to the driver’s side window. I blabbered – something about no longer being afraid of needles – and he calmly suggested I not watch the actual injection. A jab, a shot, and a Band-Aid later, he was gone.
It took me 13 minutes from the time I exited the freeway until I pulled up at the shot stop. It might have taken a couple more minutes before I actually got the shot – at that point I wasn’t in any hurry. Waiting the required 15 minutes after the shot took the same length as everything that happened up through the actual shot – which is to say, the whole process was quick, easy and relatively painless.
Three hours later and so far so good. Soreness at the spot of injection is common, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’m an impatient person. The waiting really is the hardest part.
2.28.2021 UPDATE: I feel an update is needed. By 9pm that night, my arm was sore, and by 2am the next morning, it was a painful sore. My arm was sore for easily 48 hours and hurt the most when sleeping, so I took Advil that second night. Everything about my experience was typical.This update is four days later and all the pain is gone.
According to the experts, it takes 10-12 days after the first shot for the vaccine to begin protecting me. And will be another two weeks after the next shot before I can consider myself as protected as possible from the vaccine. I suspect I can expect the typical experience for the booster shot – soreness, low-grade fever, general blah feeling for a while afterwards. All this will be worth it, as I will be ready to return to kids in my classroom in April.