It finally happened people! After a little more than a year in lockdown, I got my first dose of the vaccine this past Monday and am thrilled. It’s been a long road. I know most people don’t have their shot yet, and I don’t mean to brag. I’ve certainly felt exasperation as I’ve seen others posting their joy over getting their shots and don’t hold it against you if you feel that way reading this. Saying that, I really think I should have gotten my shot sooner. I’m sure every state, county, city has their group of people who doesn’t get prioritized as quickly as should be and for Illinois, specifically Cook County and even more specifically Chicago, it’s been people under 65 with pre-existing conditions.
I don’t understand why a perfectly healthy 65 year old has such a higher risk for Covid that they can get their shot months before a 64 year old on dialysis, but those are the rules. Initially, my group was able to get our shots on March 29th, then Illinois changed it to Feb 25th. I was elated, I could resume my life a whole month earlier! Then, Chicago said we’re not doing that, then Cook County. I was devastated. In February I tried looking at sites not run by the city or county, like Walgreens but they’d always ask for a zip code and then say I didn’t qualify. Eventually, the rules changed that you could get a shot if you were under 65 with a pre-existing condition at the United Center earlier. On March 7th, I logged on my computer 10 minutes before the shot was available and we could already pick our appointments. I clicked on one in the next week and by the time I finished it said the appointment was unavailable. After a few times of doing this, I clicked on the last day listed and got an appointment at 9am. Please note, a few days after this, the UC decided to only schedule new appointments to people in certain underserved zip codes.
Between the time of scheduling my appointment and getting my shot, I was petrified that something would go wrong. They’d cancel it or I’d show up and they’d say I really didn’t quality. Nothing like this happened of course, but I brought medical papers with me proving I had health issues.
Getting the shot itself was not bad. I think the longest part was waiting for the appointment time to first be let it. It was a lot of walking from tent to tent. The shot itself didn’t even hurt. The side effects are real though. My arm started hurting during the 15 minute waiting period. I was exhausted by 3pm that day. The next day, my arm hurt so badly, I kept checking for a bruise that didn’t exist. The next day, I felt fine.
After the shot I was an emotional mess. I’ve been through enough in my life to know I process trauma by waiting until the initial danger is over and then experiencing a flood of emotions. Apparently my subconscious decided that getting the first dose meant the initial danger was over. I cried most of the car ride home and I honestly couldn’t have told you why at the time. I cried after I finished working that night. I had no idea how much I had been holding onto for the past year. I can’t begin to explain to you what it’s like to be told when you’re 20, after we start radiation your lungs and heart won’t be the same again. To accept that, cause you have to, move on with your life and 10ish years later find out that a disease is floating around that attacks the very systems you had to let get damaged to survive. I didn’t realize how much stress I had been under this past year. It felt good to let it out.
It’s nice to have some immunity, and I am looking forward to my second shot and then fully immunity on May 3rd. My first venture into the world fully vaccinated will be a dental appointment on May the 4th (be with you).
As you may know, I’ve been marking this pandemic by not wearing pants with a button or a zipper, in solidarity (with whom I’m not sure). It became a way to show that I am not living in my normal life. This is a different time, where I am doing different things, things that do not require nice pants. I can’t go to a restaurant, because I can’t wear nice pants (and indoor dining requires you to take your mask off indoors which isn’t a great idea). I decided to wear jeans to my first vaccine appointment, marking that the initial danger was over. I was happy they fit. They weren’t as uncomfortable as I thought they’d be, but they were off within an hour of my getting home.
I have decided sweat pants are superior to jeans. They’re more comfy. The pockets are way bigger. Have bigger pockets, ladies jeans! Pockets should be able to comfortably fit your phone and keys. When you watch shows that take place in the future no one is wearing jeans and I get it. I say we move towards that beautiful future.
Since about two-third of US adults are not vaccinated I want to offer some tips on how to successfully get a Covid shot.
- Check with any doctor you have ever been to if their hospital is offering the shot. Some hospitals automatically put you in a lottery and call you if you win, but if there are steps you need to take you should know. Don’t count of these lotteries though. You could be waiting a long time.
- Get registered with your county and city. At some sites it’s the only way to get a shot.
- When you hear of new blocks of appointments available at a mass vaccination site, log in a few minutes before the time in case they release early.
- Check pharmacy websites at the right time. People seem to have luck with first thing in the morning. I’ve heard midnight is when they add appointments at many places. I’ve also heard Walgreens releases new appointments at 6am on a Tuesday. So try at those times.
- When you see a block of appointments available, go straight to the last day listed and try appointments then. Humans are inherently lazy and will click on the first available date. No one, unless they’ve read this blog or talked to my Uncle Mike who supplied this tip, will think to click on the last day.
- Hang around vaccination sites right before they close. It feels a bit dystopian/soviet, but most vaccination sites have groups of people lurking around before closing waiting to see if there are extra shots. You need to get there like an hour early. They may give them out first according to priority order and then placement in line. So if someone over 65 is second in line and a teacher is first in line and one shot is available, it will go to the over 65 person.
- Make sure you have your second shot scheduled before you leave your first shot. I think places are getting better about this, but I do know of some people who didn’t get their second shot scheduled and had to hunt for an appointment all over again.
- If you win the lottery at your hospital and they call you to tell you, ask if anyone else in your household who qualifies can get vaccinated. The worst that can happen is say no.
- Watch the local news. They will announce changes in vaccine requirements. It’s important to be up to date as it is a dynamic situation. Local news will also do human interest pieces about things like 12 members of a family getting their shot on the same day. This story typically will also include important information on the vaccine site, making it easier to Google that site to look for appointments.
- Be my Dad. My Dad won the lottery at 3 hospital systems! He could be fully vaccinated 3 times by now, which I imagine would have either turned him into some sort of senior citizen superhero or given him immunity from Covid-20 and 21.
It’s important to get vaccinated as soon as you can, so we can get out of this crisis faster. It’s a long frustrating process to get a shot, but definitely worth it. Good luck!