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[COMMENTARY] I Got Vaccinated!

[COMMENTARY] I Got Vaccinated!

My friend Bonnie texted me a link on March 3rd. Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) was sponsoring a COVID19 vaccine clinic at the Portland Airport. A limited number of first-come, first-served vaccines would be available, but appointments were going quickly, and she encouraged me to get one like she just had. I had questions, because I’m thankfully not in any of the high-risk groups. Also, I live in Washington State, just across the river from Portland, but I’m still not an Oregon resident. But Bonnie is in the same situation and had secured her appointment, so I went ahead and tried it.

The only requirements to receive the vaccine were that I needed to be over 18 (big check) and could show proof of insurance (thanks, Obamacare!). Still worried that my online application would be flagged, I went through the brief online questionnaire after selecting my preferred appointment time. Within minutes, I was all set for my vaccination just ten days out: Saturday, March 13th, at 11am.


Bonnie’s appointment was on the 6th, and she dutifully texted me at each new checkpoint. She learned she was getting the Pfizer vaccine when she checked in, and was immediately given her second vaccination appointment. She had some mild nausea, but was otherwise fine. I expected to have the same thing happen to me since we were going just a week apart. But my experience was a little different.

Just a few days before my appointment, I received an email from OHSU which said that they previously couldn’t let people know ahead of time which vaccine they would be receiving, but now they could. And I would be receiving, in all caps, the JOHNSON AND JOHNSON VACCINE. I burst into tears when I read that. Just a few short weeks ago, I had no plans to get vaccinated before it was my turn in my state. But I had a great friend who was looking out for me by basically giving me a lottery ticket. And it was a big winner with a priceless payout, the widely coveted single-dose vaccine.

Saturday, March 13th arrived and I drove to the Portland Airport Red Economy Lot as instructed in my email. As you’ll see in the above video, it was so well organized and easy to navigate. I never got out of my car. There were masked volunteers wearing ID everywhere, along with plenty of signage to direct you. I was through registration within a minute, then I followed the signs with the green arrows until I joined the line of cars waiting to pull into one of the many “Nurses Tents” that were set up, with lanes clearly marked by numbers.

After only about ten minutes, I was parked under the tent and ready. After answering a few brief questions to verify my identity, along with a very pleasant exchange with the nurses about how a few side effects are better than being on a ventilator, I got the jab.

Fifteen seconds, friends. It didn’t even really hurt.

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I was told that it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to fully take effect, then given paperwork with information about my vaccination and the possible side effects I might experience (headache, nausea, dizziness, sore arm). Then I was sent to sit in another line of cars, where everybody had to wait to make sure they didn’t have a bad reaction. Fifteen minutes later, I was driving home.

All told, it was an hour out of my life to save my life. The least selfish thing we can do right now is get vaccinated because we’re on our way back to real life again. I know I’m supposed to still wear a mask in public spaces, but in just a few short weeks I can at least go over to Bonnie’s and go inside her house instead of sitting in her backyard, and she can come over to my place and finally meet the quarantine kittens I adopted last summer.

Please get vaccinated as soon as you’re able, it’s what all the cool kids are doing! See?

US out of COVID vaccine
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]
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