What’s It Like Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine?

By Lila Troum

As news regarding updates on the vaccine(s) sweep the nation, so does hope for normalcy to soon return. We’re now in month four of vaccine distribution, with over 12% of the nation fully vaccinated and millions of vaccines being administered every day. Many around who haven’t had the chance to receive the vaccine, including myself, wonder what it’s like receiving it and how soon can it happen? Though I can’t answer the latter, the former I can give some inside in. Last month, my grandmother received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine, and I got the chance to ask her some questions about what it was like! 


Q: What was the process of scheduling the appointment like? 

A: “In the beginning, it was absolute chaos. You go online and you find a site and it’s filled for the next month; you go online and you find another site and it’s filled for the next month. Finally, through word of mouth, I heard if you go to this one site, they don’t take appointments, but if you go there you will get a shot. That’s what the process was like, it was maddening at first. They schedule the second dose for you after the first one.” 

Q: Were there any side effects?

A: “The first shot: none at all. The second shot, the day afterward my arm was hurting me, it was red and puffy and I felt a little nauseous. But, by the third day, I was fine. [My husband] didn’t have any. Two of my friends had fevers for a few days, chills, hot and cold, but within a few days, they were okay. We were told it was the antibodies were working in your body and that’s how they show you they’re working.”  

Q: What was the process of actually getting the shot like?

A: “It wasn’t like any flu shot you’ve gotten. You didn’t just make an appointment, go in, and do it. We went to this place and they said if you sign up here you will get a shot today. We had to wait in line and it was outside, and luckily it was a nice day. We were in line for two and a half hours. Luckily, we can stand for that long, there were a lot of people who had to sit and chairs and move up in the line that way. But, in two and a half hours, we got in and they had computers set up to take your information and then you went into another room and they’d point at a table for you to go to, there was a nurse sitting there and you got your shot. You got a little card and they’d fill out the date of your first shot and they’d write the date of the second when you got your second shot. When you got your second shot you’d go right in because you had an appointment and they’d write it down on the card. We’ll probably have to keep these cards with us when we travel anyplace, I don’t know for sure, though. It’s sort of weird.” 

Q: Was there a significant difference between the first and second doses?

A: “No. Other than side effects, my arm hurt, no. The first dose my arm may have hurt a little bit. It was less chaotic getting the second dose, you had an appointment and your card because you’d need to schedule a date that was a certain number of weeks after your first one. We went online and we were able to register for the second dose without any problems. Much easier with the second dose.” 

Q: How has your life changed since receiving the vaccine?

A: “It’s like a hundred-pound weight has been taken off my shoulders. We still wear masks when we go out and we’re around people we don’t know. But, it’s a freedom that we didn’t have before because we were afraid we would get the virus. With this shot, we know the chances of getting it are low and we’re not gonna die from it, which is the really good part. I hope it’s all true, I have to believe it. We’ve been going out to restaurants and eating outdoors, living in Florida that’s really easy to do. Tonight, for the first time we’re going out to eat dinner in this nice restaurant inside. We have not done that in [a long time.] But, it is a giant relief.” 

It’s elating to think that we’re making progress through this pandemic, and hearing the anecdotes of those close to you who’ve received the dose is enough to fill someone with relief and hope! As the nation continues to administer vaccinations each day, we get a bit closer to the idea that soon life will continue on. 

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