An Unexpected Celebration
Who could have predicted that getting an injection would feel like a celebration? But that’s exactly what it felt like last Friday when I went to get my Covid vaccination.
It began with me. After ten months of social distancing and quite a few of sheltering-in-place, I was approaching the beginning of the journey toward relaxation. Not normalization, I knew that. But within months I would likely be able to get together with friends who had received their second shot, and shop at the Monterey Market, the greengrocer just down the street, which I used to visit at least twice weekly, but where I haven’t set foot in ten months. We would be able to expand our supply of vegetables to include artichokes and fresh baby greens, and prepare dinners graced with fresh herbs.
So as I approached the address on McArthur Avenue, I was feeling quite upbeat. A quick look at the long line dampened my spirits a bit, but once part of the line and able to feel the general buzz of excitement, I again felt celebratory. The Kaiser staff member in charge of keeping the line orderly and safe was chatty and prone to bursts of laughter, as she kept us moving and turning and remaining at least six feet apart. And the woman just in front of me shot off a salvo of humorous remarks, making fun of her own excitement.
Once I got inside, the atmosphere was more like a convention than a medical building with lines of people waiting for shots. One young woman who seemed to be the greeter, stood near the head of the line and engaged in light conversation with anyone within earshot. “How are you today? Do you have any questions? Anything I can help you with?” Several of us wondered about scheduling for the second shot. And once she had answered that question, she talked about her own experience receiving the vaccine.
Next I went to Window D, where once again, the staff member warmly greeted me, then asked if I had any questions. “Would you like this information?” she inquired, holding up a bright orange sheet of paper. After telling me I’d be receiving the Moderna vaccine, she set me up with my second appointment in 28 days. “After that, you’ll be 95% safe,” she assured me.
Vaccine card in hand, I moved on to the last leg of the line, to wait for my room assignment. Once again, the staff member in charge of this portion of the line was upbeat and chatty, enthusiastically telling about her experience receiving the vaccine over and over again, each time anyone asked the question. She seems more like a convention hostess than a vaccine staff person, I thought, as I watched her smile and animately repeat her story for the fifth or sixth time.
My experience is Shot Room Number 6, and then in the Observation Room, where I waited for 15 minutes in case of immediate side effects were similar. Smiles and chattiness, and enthusiasm. By the time I left, I was floating. Yes, we’ve had a traumatic and intense ten months and everybody has suffered, some, of course, more than others. But after separation and loneliness and deprivation, all of us were coming together in the best of spirits, with a common goal: easing our country of the scourge of Covid.