Black woman in blue top and yellow mask in doctor's office

I Got the COVID-19 Vaccine, and You Should Too

Black woman in blue top and yellow mask in doctor's office

(Photo by CDC on Unsplash)

By Adrianne Ramsey

I got the COVID-19 vaccine. You should too.

As I walked towards the pharmacy in the back of a Safeway in March, I couldn’t believe I was able to book an appointment.

Vaccinations began in mid-December, slowly. I think we can all agree the beginning of California’s vaccine rollout was anything but smooth. For the first six weeks of vaccinations, California consistently ranked low on supply, distribution and accessibility of appointments.

For the past year, it has been drilled into the public that vaccinations will secure the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. So it was understandable that so many people were frustrated at the confusing updates from our state government regarding eligibility tiers and how to even sign up for a vaccine.

It took two and a half weeks at the end of January for Contra Costa County to approve my mother for a vaccine appointment, even though she was eligible as part of the 65+ bracket. However, by mid-February, the rollout improved dramatically due to expanded supply and vaccination sites. The approval of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine also helped matters.

People 16-64 with underlying health conditions became eligible March 15. Finally, I was able to sign up for an appointment. To my elation, I happened to be on the Safeway pharmacy’s website at the right time and quickly booked a spot. When I checked back an hour later, out of curiosity, all the appointments for that week were filled up.

I called the pharmacy and asked what vaccine they carried. The receptionist informed me it was Moderna. At first, I was disappointed. The efficacy of Moderna is great – 94% – but that wasn’t my concern.

My mother received two doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. She had just completed the six-week vaccination process when I got my first dose. Therefore, I was able to see the side effects that she experienced. After the first dose, she had arm soreness on and off for a week, had a very runny nose for a couple of days and was tired. But after the second dose, she experienced one day of chills, strong headache and fatigue; she spent a majority of the day in bed but regained energy by the late evening.

While I was fully aware of people’s experiences with the second dose, seeing my mom experience these side effects was startling. Therefore, I was very nervous that Moderna would have the same effects on my body. I contemplated canceling and trying to find a site that had Pfizer and/or Johnson & Johnson, but my mom reminded me how difficult it is to get an appointment and assured me that I would be fine, because so was she.

And I was fine. I’m more than fine. I’m great.

Fortunately, there was no line at the pharmacy. I had printed and filled out my paperwork before the appointment, so processing was very quick. Before I knew it, I was in the room, getting the shot injected into my left arm muscle. There was a slight prick, but that was it. After waiting fifteen minutes in the waiting room and gleefully texting my friends that I had gotten my first dose, I headed home.

My only side effects were two days of arm soreness, and slight sinus pressure and low energy on the first day. While I was nervous to receive the second dose one month later, I was so grateful that I began the process of COVID-19 vaccination. I really encourage everyone to make an appointment as soon as they are eligible, and get vaccinated. It’s nothing any of us can’t handle, and it truly feels like we’re almost at the light at the end of the tunnel.

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