I hadn’t necessarily been in a rush to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but I just wanted the peace of mind of having it done. Obviously, I wanted to make sure that those at highest risk got their shot before me.
In Florida, vaccination sites are abundant, thankfully. Many pharmacies are offering them, and at the end of the day, any unused doses are thrown out, and the thought of such life-saving serums being trashed absolutely sucks! Last week, I had been calling pharmacies in a 15-minute radius of me to see if they had any leftover doses, but all were accounted for.
Demand for those at risk and frontline workers have decreased recently, and to ensure the supply is not wasted, some counties are lowering the minimum age to 40. I hear rumblings that statewide, eligibility to those 40+ in Florida is on the near horizon, which is fantastic news. Yesterday, though, I caught wind of a mobile, pop-up clinic in Tampa that had 500 doses and was vaccinating anyone waiting in line. They didn’t want to waste any doses. Should I drive the 40 minutes to try?
I had had a rough, emotional week. I was battling a lot of sadness yesterday. My to-do list had “Get out of the apartment” on it, along with getting my daily step goal, showering, calling my brother for his birthday, and the dishes. I didn’t feel like going. But, at the time, I was curled up in bed, emotionally numb and disinterested in doing anything.
So, I figured I would go. I figured I’d be waiting around for a while, so Toby came with me. I thought it would be a drive-through service. It wasn’t.
I got there just before noon, and the line of people standing on the grassy edges snaked around the large parking lot. There must have been hundreds of people waiting. Was it even worth me getting out of the car? The only thing that kept me there was the realization that I had absolutely nothing else to do. It couldn’t hurt for me to park and get in line.
Toby was a trooper. He made fast friends with the folks waiting in front and behind me. It was a good ice-breaker to have, and the social connection with other humans helped. After about an hour of waiting, one of the clinic’s nurses, a woman from New York with a strong accent, started counting off people in line ahead of me. They were celebrating reaching the 400-dose milestone. I immediately felt more optimistic, because there were certainly fewer than 100 people between that person and me!
I ended up getting a sticker with 420 on it, and the nurse happily exclaimed that anyone with a sticker was going to get a vaccine, so be sure to stick around! It would just take a few hours.
It took a total of 6 hours waiting around in that line. But, I indeed did get my one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine injected into my left arm. My right arm was still healing from the platelet therapy I had had the week before, so my shoulders were definitely angry at me.
But the hopefulness of being able to finally go home to visit my family and friends in Canada made any pain worthwhile. Even today, as I battle the common side effects of flu-like symptoms, I’m happy and relieved. And sore. And tired. But, I’m one step closer to getting some long-overdue hugs. It’s been a shitty year, most of it spent sad and alone. Optimism, though, is starting to creep back into my purview.
This is the best painful memory I’ve made so far.