My COVID-19 Vaccine Story

Like many people, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the news regarding the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, and thinking about when I might be eligible to receive one. A full 12 months into the pandemic, as vaccinations started to pick up in our community and around the country, I started to feel a bit more hopeful about getting back to a more normal daily routine.

Since the vaccines became available, I’ve always planned to get one when it was offered to me. I was motivated by the feeling of being personally protected from the virus, but also to help with the overall goal of “herd immunity” — the more people who are immune, the safer we’ll all be in the long run.

For the past year I have been staying within the guidelines, thinking that it was the least I could do to make sure I wasn’t contributing to the spread of the virus even as I’ve felt pretty isolated and a bit lonely at times. (Side note: I adopted an awesome dog a few months ago, and that’s been a huge help in keeping my spirits up! 🐶) I am pretty fortunate that I have a great job that allows me to work remotely (and will for the foreseeable future), and I’m generally healthy. My good health also means that I would be among the last people eligible in Washoe County — probably no earlier than May or June by my last estimate.

COVID-19 Vaccines for Veterans

Then I’d read a note about the Southern District of the Nevada VA hospital offering vaccinations to any veteran, regardless of age, and I began to wonder when the VA here in Reno might do the same (since I’m a veteran). On Saturday, 3/6, I got the news that the VA in Reno was holding vaccination clinics for veterans of all ages, so I called and made an appointment.

I was really impressed with how easy the process of getting the vaccine ended up being at the VA hospital. It was clearly an “all hands on deck” evolution — from the people screening us in line, to the check-in process, to the staging areas before the shots were administered, to the final step of monitoring for any after effects — I was in and out of the hospital, COVID vaccination card in hand, in under 45 minutes.

So Now What?

I know that there are new CDC guidelines for what “fully vaccinated” people can do with regard to masks, and meeting up with family members. That said, I don’t intend to make any radical changes to my current social plans once my immunity fully kicks in, and I will be wearing a mask when I’m in proximity to others, as per the current Nevada state mandate. What I am considering — getting back to my masters swim workouts, which I’ve desperately missed this winter.

As for the overall experience, I feel very fortunate that I was able to quickly get a shot and that, so far (three days in), I’ve had zero side effects. I know the effort to get as many Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible is no easy task. And I am keenly aware that there are communities that are not nearly as well-served as the veterans here in northern Nevada. I hope that our local officials and healthcare providers can work through the challenges and we’ll all look back at this experience and learn from it.

As a final thought, I was surprised to feel as relieved as I do in getting vaccinated. From the moment I made my appointment, and later walked out of the VA hospital, I’ve realized just how much the year-long weight of this pandemic and a sort of low-level anxiety has affected me personally. I know there are so many families that have been impacted by this virus and I have much to be grateful for. I feel a bit more at ease knowing that I will be both personally protected from the virus, and that I’m helping contribute to the overall immunity of our community, helps me feel a bit more hopeful for things to start feeling less restricted.

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