If you’re wondering, I’m “I-just- got-the-AstraZeneca-Vaccine-at-the-pharmacy” years old. In Ontario, the government invited anyone born between 1957 and 1961 to book an appointment to roll up their sleeves and take one for the team. I was only too happy to volunteer.
The night before the booking began, I made a list of all the phone numbers of pharmacies in my neighbourhood. I started calling first thing in the morning. After seven attempts, I struck gold with a Shoppers Drug Mart location who told me I scored their last spot, as they took down all my information.
When Vaccine Day finally arrived, I felt a new spring in my step, the weight of the past nightmarish year slowly lifting off my shoulders. I had no fear or worries. Unlike my friend who is terrified of needles, I see them as a means to an end, a tiny life saving pinch. A momentary pain that unlocks the pleasure of normalcy down the road.
Smiling under my mask, I was directed to fill out some administrative paperwork in which I agreed to participate in research related to the vaccine, I checked in with the pharmacist who would be vaccinating me. She ushered me into a tiny office which appeared to be a storage closest pre-pandemic, sat me down and asked me to roll up my sleeve. The moment had arrived. The moment that seemed impossible only a year ago when developing a COVID vaccine seemed like an impossibility. Now we have four approved vaccines with more on the way!
I explained to the pharmacist that I needed to document the moment the needle went in my arm. I set my phone up selfie style, but was so focused on my camera, I missed the moment of the jab. “Noooo”, I said to the pharmacist. “leave it in. I haven’t taken the picture yet.” She laughed and rolled her eyes at me and agreed to put her arm back in the frame so I can snap a shot to celebrate the moment. It was all anti-climactic really.
I was told to wander around the store for 15 minutes to make sure there were no side effects. To celebrate I binge-shopped some new spring makeup, a gift to myself for surviving the pandemic so far. Before leaving, I checked in with the pharmacist who told me that my second shot would be in four months, and to expect side effects like a sore arm, headache, flu-like aches and chills, fatigue, fever, nausea or maybe swollen lymph nodes, all which would pass in two days. The side effects didn’t mean I was experiencing mild COVID symptoms. Rather, any reaction meant my body’s immune system was waking up, ready to fight the COVID virus should I come into contact with it.
I drove home (OMG I’M VACCINATED) and waited for side effects to kick in. Nothing. I was a little tired, but I’m always a little tired. Next day my legs were a little sore, but that could have been from my long walk. No other symptoms. This morning, which is two days after the shot, my eyes were a little sore for about 30 minutes. And that was it. It’s done.
Do you want to know the best part? Last week, data from clinical trials in the UK said that the AstraZeneca vaccine showed an effectiveness of about 62% in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease. Today, it was announced that trials in the US found the vaccine had a 76 per cent efficacy rate at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and was 100 per cent effective in stopping severe disease and hospitalization. Plus, scientists found no increased risk of bloodclots among the more than 32,000 people who received at least one dose of the shot. Can you picture me doing a happy dance over here?
So, when the opportunity opens up for you to get any of the COVID vaccines, RUN, don’t walk, to roll up your sleeve. The end of this pandemic nightmare is just a shot away.