Last week, Shelby County entered a new phase for their vaccination program. Phase 1c opened age restrictions to anyone above the age of 16 with pre-existing conditions. One of such conditions is moderate to severe asthma.
Being an asthmatic, and a particularly athletic one at that, I have spent a lot of my life huffing and puffing after a race or practice – so the thought of contracting an illness that would attack my lungs and possibly leave them even worse-for-wear has been in the back of my mind for a full year.
When I read that the vaccine would be available to people like myself, I knew that I qualified. I also knew that I wanted to get my vaccination. But I also felt as though there are other individuals who could be worse off than I am and that I would be taking a vaccine from them.
After a few days of arguing with myself, watching CDC press briefings and reading about the vaccine quantities in Memphis, I came to the conclusion that I would be vaccinated and would get it as soon as possible. Finding the signup page was easy and finding a location and appointment was even more so. I have had a harder time trying to get an appointment with my physician than finding availability for the COVID vaccine.
I am the last person who would ever volunteer to get vaccinated or my blood drawn. My friends and family can vouch for the fact that I have had a 21-year-long stretch of despising needles. My entire life has been spent finding ways to push off immunizations and staying out of the hospital to avoid IVs. Needles simply are not my thing, and I do not think they ever will be.
Oddly enough, that dread and fear never reached me on my way to the Pipkin Building next to the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on that day. The sun was out, it was a little breezy, and it smelled like the transition from spring to summer. I had my music playing softly and the windows were down and, as I filled out paperwork, that pit in my stomach never formed.
My appointment was for 11:30 in the morning, so I arrived around 15 minutes early to prevent any minor scheduling crises that may have arisen had I not decided to be punctual. I filled out the one sheet of questions while waiting in my car. Checking one box for “yes” and every other one for “no,” I had barely finished it by the time I was told to pull forward.
Into the large, garage-like structure I went – still sitting in the driver’s seat of my car and listening to music – I parked and turned my key to the left and heard the engine slow. One of the healthcare personnel walked up to my car, and by 11:27, I received my first dose. A small pinch from the needle, and I led the caravan of cars to another lot to be observed for 15 minutes.
I could not tell you if it was the simple fact that I was in my car, smelling fresh air and listening to my music instead of inhaling the bland and sterile surroundings of a doctors office, but I sat smuggly in my car, watching birds fly over the Liberty Bowl and never once felt the anxiety I normally have from needles. By 11:42, a mere half hour since arriving, I was on my way home.
Over the next few days, the only side effect that I ever experienced was a slight soreness to my left shoulder. No headaches, sore throat or flu-like symptoms. I’m yet to get my booster dose, but, after my experience with the first, I think that it won’t be anything unexpected.
The sites in the area, the Pipkin location specifically, have become efficient beyond measure in scheduling appointments and administering doses. Since the Pipkin site departed from the Shelby County Health Department’s oversight, when passing by I have yet to see a line
more than 10 cars long waiting. Time is a precious thing, but you won’t lose much with the way it is being distributed, but – honestly – what is a 30-minute appointment in comparison with seeing people again or saving lives?
Since getting my vaccine, many of my friends have gone to get theirs and none have reported anything worse than a sore shoulder afterwards. The consensus among us all is that we are ready to get back to normal; back to in-person learning; back to dinners with friends; and back to living what is cheesily referred to as “the best years of our lives.”