At the mass vaccination site I went to in Brooklyn, everyone I met was cheerful, patient, and reassuring, even the young woman who checked me in and couldn’t find me on her 3pm schedule. “Don’t worry,” she said soothingly, “you will get the vaccine.”
At the next window, a young man from Nigeria checked my ID and Medicare card and found out what had happened. Turns out I accidentally booked an appointment at 3am and didn’t know the website was open 24/7. Another “don’t worry,” and I went to see a young Florida technician who painlessly injected the Moderna vaccine into my left arm.
I then sat in a holding tent for 15 minutes to make sure I wouldn’t have any serious reactions. The next day I received a text: “Hello Jane, it’s time for your daily v-safe check-in” and a link to a CDC site that asked: How are you today? (Good, fair, bad); Did you have a fever today or did you have a fever? (Yes No); followed by symptom testing, first at the injection site for pain, redness, swelling or itching and then generally for chills, headache, joint pain, muscle or body aches, tiredness or exhaustion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and rash or any other symptoms that I wanted to report.
Finally, I was asked some general health effects related to my ability to work and carry out my normal daily activities and whether I needed to see a doctor. I received the same text at the same time every day for more than a week and also received a link when I wanted to submit a report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
The second dose, given 34 days later, went even more smoothly. By then I had spoken to dozens of other people of different ages who had both taken recordings. Only two reported bad reactions – fever, nausea, extreme fatigue – that lasted a day or two. I was prepared for the worst, but it never happened. My arm, shoulder, and neck hurt the first night, but most of the pain was gone by the next morning. Although my son was on call if I couldn’t walk my dog, his help was not needed. I was even able to swim that afternoon.