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It started on Thursday, Dec. 17. When I arrived at work, I saw an email with a link to schedule my first Pfizer shot. I clicked the link and discovered all the slots were filled for the next three days, and no appointments were activated for the next week. Okay, then.
A short time later, I got a message from my wife. She told me that she had gotten a text from the hospital with a link to schedule a shot. This is odd because she has not worked there for three years. I did my regular shift, went home, and had her show me the text when she got up. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link. Using her phone, I was able to an appointment at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19. Okay, then.
On my way to work on Friday, Dec. 18, I got a text message. When I got to work, since I never, ever, never look at my phone when I’m driving, I checked and saw the text was from the hospital. This was a confirmation for my appointment to have the vaccine administered. At 10:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18. Okay, then.
When I went into preshift, my boss told me that I was assigned to be resource RN for the unit: Assist with procedures, relieve for lunch breaks, manage sedations, etc. He then told me that they were giving the shots on a walk-up basis. If I wanted the vaccine, I could go, then care for the patients of other staff while they got theirs. Okay, then.
I went to the auditorium where the shots were being administered. The atmosphere was ebullient, almost giddy. Everyone was smiling and joking. I told them I had an appointment and they canceled it, no big deal. While I was waiting my turn, after filling out the paperwork, a staff member from another unit came back out. She said that she was having second thoughts and didn’t want the shot just then. That put some sand in the gears, as apparently there was no way for the scheduling software to cancel someone after they had checked in.
So I went and got the vaccine. Since I had on a long-sleeve undershirt, I had to give all the ladies a show to bare my arm. (I may be over 60, but I have the abs, pecs, and delts of a 50-year-old.) The shot was no worse than my annual flu vaccine. They then had me go into a hallway where there were chairs set up, six-feet-apart of course, for us to sit and be observed for 30 minutes in case of a reaction. I looked around: No oxygen, no suction, no crash cart. I asked what would happen if I had a reaction. “We’ll take you to the ER,” I was informed. “Let’s cut out the middleman,” I replied. “I’ll just go back to work … in the ER.” I still had to sign a waiver.
On the way out, I asked the people up front if they had my correct phone number. They did. My wife’s number was just listed as my emergency contact. I also checked to see if they had her still listed as an employee. They did not. I still have no idea why the text got sent to her phone and not mine.
The rest of the shift went uneventfully. My arm was a little sore, but nothing that hindered my job performance. I felt a little more tired than usual and did not work out after my shift as I normally do. I went to bed before my wife got up in the morning, also unusual. I then slept for ten hours straight; very unusual. Then I was fine. Other than the excessive sleep and my arm being sore for a few days, I had no reaction to the shot.
Others were not so lucky. We had one employee with shortness of breath and chest tightness, one whose arm swelled after the shot, and one who had a syncopal episode (passed out). All three had their symptoms resolve and none were admitted. Just about everyone had minor reactions, usually being tired and soreness at the site of the injection.
So we can all take off our masks, right? Nope. My manager sent out an email telling us all we had to continue maintaining strict precautions. After all, the vaccine is only 95% effective, so “one of your colleagues can still be infected.” There are a lot more than 20 employees in our department, so it would be a lot more than “one of your colleagues.” Also, at what point does herd immunity kick in?
If the administration did not know how to contact me before the first shot, they sure did afterward. I got messages every day via text (to my phone), my work email, and my home email asking me to schedule the second vaccine. The registration worked flawlessly this time. While I was getting the shot, I noticed there was a pharmacist with an “Anaphylaxis Box” and oxygen in the room. I still waived the observation period.
I had been told by coworkers that the reactions to the second shot were worse than for the first. Not for me. I did a full shift after the injection, worked out, stayed up to say “good morning” to my wife, and slept my normal six hours. My arm was sore for a couple of days, and that was it. It’s now a week later and I’m still alive and kicking.
My wife was a little reluctant to have the shot because she’s allergic to the flu vaccine. She decided to risk it, scheduled an appointment at her work, and made me come with her. I asked:
“Why do I need to come? They have oxygen and a crash cart, don’t they?”
“Yea and when was the last time any of the clinic doctors used that stuff? I’m bringing you along to run the code.”
She got the Moderna vaccine. We waited 30 minutes, headed home, and hung out with friends that evening. She talked about being tired, went to bed early, and didn’t wake up … until 10 a.m. This is someone who has swim practice at 5:15 every morning. She missed swimming and had canceled all her gym appointments. She was groggy most of the day. Of course, the Benadryl she took before the injection may have had something to do with it. She went to work that night and has been fine since.
Last night, an employee from another site came to our hospital to get the first vaccine. At 10:30 p.m. We told her that they had shut it down at 8, but she had an appointment for 10:30 on her phone. I walked her back to the area where they were giving the shots; one was there of course. So, the vaccines seem to work great. The people managing the distribution, on the other hand….Published in