What is it like to get the COVID-19 Vaccine? I interviewed a family member of mine to find out more about the biggest US vaccination effort in recent memory.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: First question: Where did you go to get the vaccine?
A: I went to a Walgreens pharmacy in Wyoming.
Q: What was the scene like once you got to Walgreens?
A: It was a little chaotic. I had not planned on getting my vaccine that day. I was notified through a family member that there were extra doses at this Walgreens that needed to get into people’s arms so they didn’t have to throw them out and waste them. A number of people were also being notified, I got there when a lot of other people were trying to get some of the remaining doses. I was able to secure my dose but there were a lot of people waiting in line, getting their prescriptions, checking to see if they could get the vaccine, some people waiting to get their vaccine. It felt a little chaotic, the pharmacy itself felt very chaotic, all the staff were keeping count of how many doses they had left and how many they had promised to certain people. So it did feel a little frantic and stressful when I first got there.
Q: What were the steps to getting the shot?
A: The first thing was I had to go to the counter and let them know that I was there for one of the extra doses that were available. Then they ran through a set of questions. Then I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork about four different types of forms. Then I had to take that back up to the desk, then I had to wait for my turn to get the vaccine. Once they called my name I was taken back to their vaccine room, so you have privacy to get the shot. Then the pharmacist who was giving the shot and he talked me through some more paperwork and explained some of the potential side effects of the vaccine and discussed which arm we wanted it in. He filled out my vaccine card, prepared my arm, did the shot, then I had to wait at Walgreens for about fifteen minutes to make sure I didn’t have any immediate side effects. Once that was done I was able to go.
Q: Ok. Next question: What sort of questions are asked before you get the shot? Are they all on paper?
A: Some were, are you experiencing any symptoms right now, kind of like the wellness check that so many kids and adults are doing right now, did I have a fever, had I had a cough, was I around anyone who had been exposed to or tested positive for covid. They did check my health insurance card, but I didn’t have any charge for the vaccine. It was free, but they still ran that information, they verified who I am, my birthdate, to make sure I am who I say I am.
Q: What did getting the shot feel like?
A: Not that different from a flu shot. It felt very similar. I feel like they did more measuring than they seem to do when getting a flu shot. Really measuring where on my arm they need to do the poke. They do the swab and then the shot, before I knew it the shot was done.
Q: Have you gotten the second dose?
A: I did.
Q: How was the process different during the second dose than during the first?
A: The pharmacy itself was slower. I had an assigned time for going unlike the first dose. I did fill out the paperwork ahead of time, it was sent to me over email. Although interestingly they were prepared to give me another packet of material thinking that I had to fill out some other items, but the pharmacist checked and what I filled out was sufficient. Which was good because it feels stressful in that moment to be filling out that paperwork. It was much smoother getting through the check in process. Waiting for the pharmacist didn’t take long at all. The second shot I kind of felt more prepared for what was going to happen.
Q: Did you feel anything after your second dose?
A: After my second dose, a couple hours later, I felt like my arm was being pinched so hard and was feeling tight. I had a hard time sleeping because my body was starting to feel achy which made it hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in. Foolishly I did not take any medicine before going to bed to alleviate some of those symptoms. But I certainly did the next morning, and I felt much, much, better. But after the medicine wore off I felt the same kind of achiness I had felt the night before.
Sam: Thank you.
Interviewee: You’re welcome.
Hopefully this helps you understand the process of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.