I hate vaccines even though I am a grown woman with many tattoos. While I support vaccinations for the security of myself and others, I absolutely detest getting a flu shot at the pharmacy or a booster shot at the doctor’s office. It makes me feel so squeamish and uncomfortable. It even makes my upper arm sore just thinking about it. But I was thrilled when Covid vaccines became available to people in my area and my age group! Science can sometimes seem miraculous, and I felt a real sense of anticipation for the future, as more and more of us are getting vaccinated, and the general population is becoming more protected. However, a six-year-old who hates shots freaked out. What if I get a fever afterward? Will it hurt? What if I faint?
There was nothing but silly anxiety that did nothing but raise my blood pressure and entertain ridiculous what-ifs, but I guess that’s why they label them irrational. I went for my appointment last week, and it went better than I had expected and even better than I had imagined in my best-case-scenario-wouldn’t-actually-happen thoughts. I decided to write about my experience and what I went through so that, if anyone searches for things like “first vaccine experience” or “what to expect from a first vaccine”, I could provide some comfort.
Arriving & The Lines
I got my vaccine at a local hospital very close to my home. After my boyfriend dropped me off 15 minutes before the vaccination, I immediately saw seven or ten people sitting outside the main entrance to the place where I was supposed to get the vaccine. As someone familiar with bureaucracy, and as one who understands how thinly stretched the healthcare system is at the moment, I expected the people standing outside to be waiting in line for the shot. I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw that the accumulation of people outside were just people waiting for a ride or just hospital patients enjoying the sun, and the line was going extremely fast.
I stood behind a line of maybe five people, and within minutes I was dispersed to a table with a health care worker who vetted me the same way you get vetted at a Walmart before going to shop.
“Have you had any symptoms?”
“Have you traveled recently?”
“Have you knowingly interacted with someone with Covid?”
It was pretty quick and to the point, keeping in mind that the woman I spoke to had to ask that question about 500 times that day. She then gave me a medical mask to put over the cloth one that I was already wearing and a green sticker for my jacket to let other people that I’d been vetted and sent me toward the elevator at the end of the hall.
On my way to the vaccination area, there were the expected six-foot space-keeping stickers, but there was also someone available to help almost every twenty feet. There was even someone to press the elevator for you and make sure only two people go in the elevator at once to properly keep the six-foot distance. I’m usually a very confused person, especially when I’m somewhere I don’t know, but it was genuinely impossible to get confused or lost in the giant hospital I was in because of the incredible staff. It was such a well-oiled machine, that even though there were so many people to serve, I was at the vaccination area within five minutes of walking in.
The Final Shot
When I got to the vaccination area—a huge room that looked like an elementary school gym with a waiting area in the middle and nurses stations lining the edges—I went to a counter to show another healthcare worker my health card and answer a few more questions about where I live and who my family doctor was. The healthcare worker who asked me questions was super kind and patient with me even though I nervously rambled and laughed a lot, and we actually found out that we go to the same doctor! Small world.
After maybe two or three minutes at the first booth answering questions, I walked quickly over to one of the many nurse’s booths and sat in the chair in front of a very cheery and bubbly nurse who made me feel instantly better. He could tell that I was nervous and totally talked me through it and I give so much respect and appreciation to him wherever he is now (probably still giving people Covid shots) because as a grown-up who gets uneasy around vaccines it can be a little embarrassing and he was super nice.
He reassured me I got lucky because he’s the best in the building at giving shots; he laughed and said “you don’t want to be stuck with the doctors; they don’t give shots as I do. They do all the doctor work. Me? I do shots all day, I must’ve done fifty-thousand shots by now!” While I’m sure that no matter the health care professional who gives you the shot will do it well and without too much pain, this nurse was such a character that I totally relaxed.
The nurse counted to three and did the shot and I can genuinely say as a massive wimp, that the Covid-19 vaccination was easily the least painful and smallest shot I’ve gotten. Bam, boom, it was done, and I was patched up and ready to go. He gave me a piece of paper for aftercare and told me the time that I was allowed to leave. I thanked the nurse with so much relief that it was over, and went to sit in the waiting area,
Once I was done with my favorite nurse of all time, I walked over to the seating area and sat quietly with my hands in my lap. The chairs were all in neat rows six feet apart on all sides, and everyone was staring at their phone or their shoes. Nurses circled around the people sitting quietly in a way that totally reminded me of taking my University exams and having TAs looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re not cheating or using a pen on a Scantron sheet. The fifteen minutes crawled by, and I felt super anxious the whole time.
I think it’s pretty common that when people with anxiety do something stressful that we jump to the worst case scenario. A lot of what-ifs started to pop up in my head. What if I somehow have an adverse reaction to the vaccine? What if I Pass out? I calmed myself down by reminding myself that if I were going to get sick from this shot, a gymnasium full of doctors and nurses is exactly where I want to be, plus, I told myself to stop being so conceited, I’m not that special that my body is going to be the one that explodes or something equally wild after the shot. Nobody’s that unique.
Once my fifteen minutes were over, I hopped up and got out of there pretty quickly. I thanked everyone I saw on my way out and got the hell out of dodge because I would much rather be at home playing Animal Crossing. Although I didn’t get a cool sticker that said “I got Vaccinated!” they did offer to validate my parking so it was a pretty great experience.
All jokes aside, the medical professionals and administrative teams that orchestrated mine and millions of other Canadians’ vaccinations are truly heroes. I was absolutely awestruck by how efficient, quick, and kind the whole process was as I was in and out in under 30 minutes including my fifteen-minute wait after the shot. I am so beyond thankful that I was able to have this healthcare provided to me, and I don’t take that lightly.
The Aftermath of COVID Vaccine
When I got home, I patted myself on the back and bought myself a big box of hot wings, then my friend and I watched a horror movie together (over Zoom, of course). I know some people (including my dad) had some real trouble with the vaccine. I heard of extremely stiff arms, fever, and flu-like symptoms, but fortunately, I didn’t have any issues. When I tossed and turned in bed that night I felt my arm ache a bit, but I was perfectly comfortable otherwise. My sisters, who just got the vaccine this week, reported little to no symptoms after their shot as well.
So, if you were wondering, that is genuinely how the experience went for me. I was a wimp and felt nervous and stressed for absolutely no reason. The people were nice, the system was quick, and I’ve had pillow-fights that hurt more than that shot. If you’re feeling nervous like I was, take a deep breath, thank God for science, and then buy yourself a box of hot wings when it’s over; it’ll all work out fine.