I got my first vaccine shot, and so far it’s working just fine

This was the third queue, the one just before the shots. We were spaced out by this point.

This was the third queue, the one just before the shots. We were spaced out by this point.

On Friday, I did my duty and got a shot of the vaccine against coronavirus. I’m proud to be able to say that, because I’ve not been able to get flu shots in the past, but this time I did my bit toward producing herd immunity, and getting us past this thing.

Those 43 senators may not have done their duty, but I’ve mine. It’s OK; don’t thank me. I was glad to do it.

As I said, I did it on Friday, and I intended to write about it on Friday; I really did. But I wasn’t up to it. It made me sick. That is, it made me feel sick, and I spent much of the afternoon snoozing on the recliner in my home office. But this, you see, is good news. I read up on it, as I started feeling crappy, and that means the vaccine has produced a strong reaction in my immune system. So if you got the shot, but didn’t feel bad, you have a puny immune system compared to mine. That’s OK; it’s not your fault.

I had been told by some that they didn’t even feel the shot. Oh, I felt it. It wasn’t the most painful shot I’ve ever received — that title goes to the series of typhoid fever inoculations I received in 1962, which made my scrawny little arm feel like it was going to fall off — but I felt it. Especially last night, when no matter what position I got into, it ached just enough to keep me awake. But acetaminophen took care of that.

So, for you greenhorns who haven’t experienced this, here’s what it was like…

First, it was very different from when I took my parents to get their first shots back in January (the get their second ones this week). That was a quiet, peaceful, solitary experience. I took them to get the Moderna vaccine at a Publix I hadn’t realized existed (it’s on Broad River Road) before I made the appointments. If you’d been someone in the store to get groceries that day, you might not have realized the shots were being given there. There was a young woman behind a table just to the left of the entrance. No one else was there, except the person scheduled ahead of us and maybe the person before that, who was still doing the 15-minute wait afterward.

So, even though I was getting the Pfizer instead of Moderna, I figured the experience would be kind of like that. It most assuredly was not. This was closer to lining up for a physical at the recruiting station in the second week of December, 1941. Only most of the people were more… mature… than your usual recruit. And we mostly kept our clothes on, I guess because there were ladies present and all.

The shock came before I even got into the building — Lexington Medical Park 1, to be specific. I was so proud because my appointment was at 11:10, and I’d arrived by 11, meaning I was that rare thing for me, early. But first I had to creep around behind slow people trying to find a parking space, which would have been OK except then I had to stop behind a mass of people waiting outside the building, in the light rain. That was the first of three queues. It was about 39 degrees and wet, as I recall.

We were not, to say the least, six feet apart. We were practically climbing on each others’ backs trying to get under the large canopy over the entrance to escape the rain. But we all had masks on, so there’s that.

This queue — or perhaps I should say, this disorderly mass of people — was for waiting to have one’s temperature checked, and getting a green sticker to attest to it, before entering. The harried young woman in charge kept clicking the thing at several of our foreheads, and then saying, “OK, you five go on in.” Then, when I had been clicked, for some reason she said, “OK, you eight go in.” So we did.

Another lovely young woman (I keep meaning to write a post about this amazing thing I discovered when I was a stroke patient at this very hospital — that pretty much all young women wearing face masks are beautiful, especially if they work in hospitals) had those who had been admitted line up again, around the circular wall of the foyer. Then, since there were too many of us, she had a second, concentric arc form inside the first one, and told the man at the head of ours to follow the last guy in the previous one, once he passed.

At this point we started trying to space out a little. As you’d expect from a bunch of people who were going to this much trouble to get the vaccine.

Then, we got to the entrance of a hallway, and another lovely young woman directed us one at a time to one of several tables set up in that area, leading toward another door at the far end, leading in turn to the enormous room where the shots would be given. At each table was a woman with a computer.

So I went to mine, and gave her my particulars, and she asked me when my appointment was. I said it was supposed to have been at 11:10, as I glanced at my phone to see it was now 11:16. I threw on a sliver of that morally superior, chuff tone you get from people who are habitually early, but not much, because I truly hate that tone.

Speaking of moral superiority, I was still congratulating myself on having filled out the online questionnaire ahead of time when she told me I was done and to go ahead and get in the next line. OK. As I moved down the hall to the next queue, I passed another of the tables, where the worker was asking this other person about allergies, which had not happened with me. Which was weird. There had been several questions about allergies on the questionnaire, and while I was pretty sure that I was OK with this vaccine, at least one of my answers should have been a red flag to at least keep a close eye on this guy: My “yes” to the question of whether I’d ever had a serious allergic reaction to a vaccination.

That was the typhus shot I got when I was about 10 years old and living in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The substance was grown in egg. I have an extreme allergy to eggs. The State Department nurse knew this, but said I had to have a shot because regulations. So she gave me half of a child’s dose, as a compromise. I was headed into anaphylaxis before I got down one floor on the elevator to leave the building. I can’t tell you much about the next few days except it was about the sickest I ever was in my life.

This is why I don’t get flu shots. For some ungodly reason, they make that with egg, too.

But I’d done my research and felt pretty good about this vaccine, and my allergist had given me the “go” sign. But in case I was wrong, I felt like that they should know before they had a freaky situation on their hands. So I thought about that as I stood in the third and final queue — the one in the picture above. And when I sat down to get the shot, and things proceeded apace, and the lady was actually wielding the syringe near my arm, I mentioned it, saying something like, I think I’m OK on this, but so you know, I’m one of those people who has had a severe reaction to an inoculation.

And she said fine, that meant I’d have to wait 30 minutes instead of 15. Which I was fully prepared to do. So at 11:23 she stuck it in, and a modest amount of pain was produced, and I went over to my little isolated chair in the waiting area, and opened my iPad to resume reading the papers. Just before leaving the house, I had started reading a George Will column headlined, “Will Senate Republicans allow their louts to rule the party?” And now I finished it. (We know the answer to that question now, don’t we?)

We were all seated, by the way, in front of a projector screen on which a children’s movie was being projected. You couldn’t really see the picture because of the lighting (see the photo below), or hear any of the dialogue. But at one point I barely heard a song I had heard my grandchildren sing many, many times, and I knew it was “Frozen.” The day before, when my wife had gotten her shot, it had been Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Which, for a crowd of people who are mostly over 65, is also an odd choice. Actually, come to think of it, assuming it makes sense to play a movie for people who will only be there for a few minutes of it is kind of odd, too, but that’s the modern waiting room.

Anyway, a good job was done, mostly, by the hospital, and I appreciate it. I don’t know why there was such a mob, compared to my parents’ experience. Are there that many more people over 65 than over 70? Or has Joe managed to step things up the last few weeks? I don’t know, but the hospital was handling it pretty well.

And we got ‘er done. And today, I felt well enough to tell you about it…

Here's where we all waited after our shots -- most for 15 minutes, me for 30.

Here’s where we all waited after our shots — most for 15 minutes, me for 30.

21 thoughts on “I got my first vaccine shot, and so far it’s working just fine

  1. Lynn Teagie

    Glad you are among the vaccinated! I am 3 days past my second, and very glad of it. Prisma Richland is doing a great job.

  2. Ron

    I got my first shot at LMC on January 20. The next day I had a sore arm, but no other side effects. On February 10 I went back for the second shot. The day after I had a sore arm, some fatigue, and felt a little achy. Overall, the side effects were mild and only lasted a day.

    Things went more smoothly for me than what you described. I was in and out in no more than 30 minutes both times. The staff did a great job.

  3. David L Carlton

    Davidson County only recently started permitting vaccinations for under-75s. Last week I finally got the call from Vanderbilt Medical Center to come in. Since I’m a patient at VUMC, they knew most of my medical history already, so the questionnaire was easy. We were well spaced; after parking in the garage, I was quickly scanned and checked in, and directed to a research building in the complex where they were set up for the vaccinations (when you spend 35 years teaching at Vandy, you know your way around). The shot was only slightly painful, and the side effects minor and fleeting. My understanding, though, is that the bigger reaction comes with the second shot, which is scheduled for Feb. 26. I’m hoping for a serious reaction for the same reason you did–as a sign of effectiveness. Alas, it won’t change much in my social interactions (which, being a single guy, leave much to be desired), though it will make my volunteer efforts easier. Hopefully by summer I can go to concerts and club gigs, and maybe even start singing with others again–a huge hole in my life.

  4. Jim Catoe

    My wife and I got our first and second shots at Gamecock Park. Prisma Health is to be commended for their efforts to vaccinate as many folks as the supply of vaccine allows. We were in and out in two hours on both occasions. My wife is a retired nurse with 40 years service and is also very competent on a computer; therefore, we were able to get appointments. However, folks without appointments were also given the shots on the days we were there. And that was a good thing in my opinion.

  5. Ralph M Hightower

    I was in Phase 1c, behind law enforcement and first responders, grocery store clerks, and teachers. Friday, February 5, I learned that I would do the “Time Warp” to Phase 1a on Monday because I’m over 65, but not yet 70. Saturday, I checked Lexington Medical and saw they had opened up registration requests for those between 65 and 69, and requested to sign up. Sunday, I got an email from the CDC for their VAMS registration and I got an appointment with Lexington Medical on Tuesday the 9th.
    I asked the nurse “No warning.” But she went ahead and gave a 3-2-1 countdown. I didn’t feel it go in. But I’m an allergy shot veteran, I relax my arm so I don’t tense up; although I haven’t had allergy shots for probably a decade.
    I had planned on getting the vaccine as soon as I was eligible. I understood and accepted that law enforcement and first responders, grocery store clerks, and teachers, were in Phase 1b ahead of me in Phase 1c. Law enforcement and first responders, as well as grocery store clerks do not have the option of working from home. They have to show up for work. Yes, children do better with in-person instruction, but virtual learning was something that had to be done. Now, SC Senator Shane Massey (T-District 25) wants to leapfrog teachers to Phase 1a? Hey, teachers have to shop for groceries also.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Hey, Ralph, welcome back!

      I’m not sure why your comment got held for moderation. Maybe one of our trolls tried to use the pseudonym “Shane” or something, or some other red-flag word was used. I don’t know. These days, now that the blog’s been going for more than 15 years, there are a lot of odd little things built into the framework…

  6. Doug Ross

    Why are we still waiting on FDA approval for the Astra Zeneca vaccine when it is being used in other countries (you know, the ones with the national health care systems that are beloved) and approved by the WHO (who supposedly represent the “science” everyone says to follow)?

    The FDA is just another example of a government bureaucracy which is inefficient. They are literally killing people by delaying approval. At this point, if they approve it weeks from now rather than rely on the work done by other countries, it certifies their inability to adapt. Why isn’t Joe Biden doing something about it? Why doesn’t he sign one of those executive orders he’s so fond of? Cut the malarkey AND the red tape, Joe.

    Waiting on my second shot in a two weeks. No pain from the shot, zero side effects. I also take a daily mega dose of Vitamin C, D, and Zinc (since last year) and walk outside 3-10 miles daily. The best defense is building up your immune system (and not being 75 years old or more).

          1. Doug Ross

            it’s funnier when Leslie Jordan does that shtick… it’s just sad when you have to play the fake old gay guy for kicks. Maybe you can find an imaginary guy to match your fading libido.

  7. Scout

    I am not quite that old, but I was eligible since I am a speech pathologist. I went to Lexington and had a similar experience to you, except not as crowded it sounds like. We didn’t have to line up around the atrium – I pretty much walked right in both times. There were plenty of people but it always moved along, no lines. I got to see a vet (as in animal doctor) show on the big screen the first time, and Mary Poppins the second time. They seemed to have switched to Disney when they moved to the 70 and over crowd. I had very minimal reaction from the first shot and a day of fever, achiness, and mild nausea from the second. No regrets at all. I feel much better about hopefully not bringing it home to my husband. He is 58 and in 1b because of his job, so I don’t know when he will come up.

    I am glad the scheduling seems to be going better for people. I hope the supply issues will continue to improve as well. I’m also glad the numbers are going in the right direction and hope it holds, but the variants may change that. I am frustrated by the way they changed how they measure the % positive. As far as I understand it, it seems less meaningful the new way. They are counting people more than once so if it goes up or down, it could be because of factors in the sample size rather than actual level of disease. The old way counted individual people no matter if they had multiple tests in the sample period. Anyway, I’m just thankful we are moving in the right direction.

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