My wife and I are both under 65, but have health conditions which make us high-risk for COVID.
In Texas, that places us in Group 1B for the vaccinations, right behind the healthcare workers and others in Group 1A.
We’ve been diligent about wearing masks and limiting contact outside of our household (which is just the two of us, with our daughters both grown and moved away). As much as possible, we have our groceries delivered or we pick them up curbside, and have done so since the Spring of 2020.
We have our hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and we have been wiping down everything that comes into our home just in case, even though now we are told that probably isn’t necessary.
I am fortunate that my work can be done from our home, and my workplace has graciously allowed me to do that during this pandemic. My wife is already retired due to a disability.
We are, admittedly, going a bit stir crazy, feeling like we endanger our very lives every time we leave the house.
So, as soon as Texas approved the coronavirus vaccine shots for Group 1B, I contacted NET Public Health District to see about getting scheduled for a shot.
One of my wife’s health conditions is that she has stage 4 cancer, currently in remission. Because of that, and because the mRNA used to deliver the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is such a new method, she wanted to wait and talk to her oncologist before signing up for a vaccination for COVID.
NET Health replied to my contact overnight, and told me there was a clinic that was coming up that Thursday at Harvey Hall. They invited me to be there by 8:30 a.m. to get my shot — but they warned there was a very limited supply, so I might or might not actually receive my vaccine that day. This was before their new site for the vaccine waiting list and information went live. Now, you can sign up for the waiting list for either your first or second COVID vaccination shot at NetHealthCovid19.org.
It was a very cold and rainy day that Thursday, but I, along with many others, showed up at Harvey Hall that morning. It turns out it was very crowded because some people got the clinic info from others and showed up even though they might not have been in Group 1A or 1B. They probably didn’t realize access to the vaccine shots is still restricted to high risk people.
We waited outside in the rain for about 45 minutes, then were able to go inside to a room and wait (staying in a long, almost-socially-distanced line wrapped around the outer wall of a large room) for another 45 minutes. But it was dry and warmer, so that was a welcome change.
Then we were moved in groups of about a dozen at a time to the next waiting room, where we sat in spaced-out-by-six-feet chairs and filled out our paperwork. One of the blanks on the form was for mother’s maiden name for those who are under 18, and since we were all much older, we laughed about that and skipped it.
Then a nurse told us that we were all under 18 again for that day and we needed to fill it out, anyhow. It will help keep records straight for multiple people with the same name down the line.
From that room, we moved into separate chairs spaced out down a hallway. Then, as people moved through the process and space became available, we moved to the next-to-last room. This is where we turned over our paperwork and waited in line for our shots.
There were about six stations where the shots were administered, so that last part went fairly quickly. After the shot, the nurse (or nursing student) who gave the shot handed out the official card which showed what shot was received and what group gave it and when. It also stated what date was the earliest to return for the second shot.
Then one more room — the waiting room where we were told to stay for at least 15 minutes after our injections so we could be monitored for any allergic reactions to the vaccine.
Altogether, my first shot took about 3 and a half hours from the time I arrived until I got back into my car to leave.
The shot was one of the least painful I have ever had — barely a touch and it was over. No reaction afterward, only a little pain at the injection site like with any other vaccine, and I simply went about my life as usual.
My wife saw her oncologist about a week later, and was told to go ahead and get the vaccine when she could since she was already finished with her chemo and radiation treatments. She filled out the forms with the new site at NetHealthCovid19.org to get on the waiting list, and we’ve been waiting since then. The waiting list is very long, now.
Almost the full month had passed since my first injection (the Moderna shot calls for the booster shot to take place 28 days or more after the first jab), and I was getting a little apprehensive about receiving my second shot on schedule (It turns out there is some leeway on the timing for the second shot, but how much is still being hotly debated). Then NET Public Health emailed me with a link to schedule my booster shot. I picked a day and time and they emailed me the paperwork to be filled out before I arrived.
This second vaccine clinic was intended to be a drive through clinic (easier for the people receiving the shots, though not so much for the workers giving them). But it rained that day, so everything was moved indoors again.
The entire process was even smoother than the first time — you can tell they learned from experience and adapted to improve. One room, then about 30 seconds in the hallway chairs, then the injection and waiting area. The whole event took only about an hour this time and I was out the door.
The second shot was more painful than the first, but that probably varies depending upon who is giving the injection, as with any shot.
I felt fine except for some arm pain at the injection site and went home.
A few hours later, I began to get very tired, so I laid down to rest for a bit. When I awoke, my arm was very sore where the injection was given, and I began to feel as if I had a very mild case of the flu — chills, feverish (never over 100 degrees, though), body aches and pains, and very lethargic.
I slept most of that day and the next.
My symptoms peaked about 24-30 hours after the vaccination, and have been going away steadily since then. I hear it’s a good thing to experience those symptoms after the booster shot, since it shows your body is reacting to the spike like the one from the coronavirus, so I am not complaining.
We’re still waiting for my wife’s first shot, but are glad NET Health was able to provide me with the vaccine and are looking forward to getting her taken care of as soon as possible.
I should be as protected as I can be in another couple of weeks, but we won’t be safe from me carrying the infection home to her until she also gets vaccinated. It’s not yet known if someone can be fully vaccinated but still catch the coronavirus and spread it to others.
We are a step closer to what life used to be, and eagerly anticipate the time when enough people are vaccinated against COVID so that we can enjoy everyone’s company again. We miss y’all.
Note: The newspaper agreed to withhold the names of the patients.