I was lucky enough to get an extra vaccine. Here’s how it went down.
I am young, healthy, and COVID-19 vaccinated.
And I come from a white, upper-middle class family and experience the privilege that comes with that.
I also have a medication-managed autoimmune disorder and a history of childhood asthma. But it wasn’t either of these factors that allowed me to access the Pfizer vaccine before most people in my age group—it was being in the right place at the right time.
I work a food service job in a Boston Children’s Hospital building. About a month ago, I asked a coworker if she could cover one of my shifts, and she replied, “I can’t, I’m getting vaccinated.”
She, like me, is in her early twenties and healthy, so I immediately asked how she found the opportunity. She said a Boston Children’s healthcare worker came into our store and gave us a Post-It note with a phone number on it, saying there were extra vaccines being offered to service and trade workers in the buildings.
When I called to schedule my appointment, they asked, “Are you an employee of Boston Children’s Hospital?” “No,” I said, explaining my situation. Still, they booked my first shot for just three days later.
My friends and family were excited to hear about my opportunity; for the most part, they were supportive. Some people from back home in Seattle asked me to “hook them up,” which I can’t, of course, since I live in Boston and, more importantly, don’t have any special connections.
The first dose was quick and painless, although the hospital staff asked me to sit in an auditorium for 30 minutes after I confessed I broke out into hives after my tetanus booster. I felt perfectly fine for the whole time, outside of the discomfort of sitting in a room with dozens of socially-distanced strangers, most of them much older than me and wearing PPE and scrubs.
My arm was sore the following day and I felt fatigued at work, but may have been a placebo effect. I didn’t experience any additional side effects though, and the soreness dissipated within a day.
I received my second dose midday in March, and didn’t even feel the needle go in. Instead I felt nearly euphoric looking at those two doses stamped on my vaccination record card, and reminded myself that any side effects I was about to experience would be well worth the protection and relief the shots would bring.
The soreness in my arm crept in within 10 minutes of receiving the vaccine. By afternoon, my whole body was starting to ache. I had trouble sleeping due to the pain, but I took Tylenol and managed a good six hours. I did not experience any fever, chills, or flu-like symptoms, but the full-body aches persisted until the following evening. It felt as if I had spent the last week in the gym for two hours each day, lifting weights with poor form and twisting my muscles in all sorts of unfortunate ways (mind you, I haven’t set foot in a gym since March of 2020). But within 48 hours of Netflix-bingeing and acetaminophen popping, I was feeling well again.
Life hasn’t changed much since my vaccination. The mask wearing, social distancing, and periodic testing continue. There are small differences, like feeling less fear taking public transportation or traveling home to see my family. But the most gratifying benefit has been knowing that I can go to work without putting myself or my coworkers in harm’s way.
That is not something I take for granted.
Maya Friedrich is Boston-based journalist and Simmons University student from Seattle. She has written a variety of pieces for The Simmons Voice, ranging from news to opinion to satire, and runs a blog on mental health discourse in entertainment media. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @mayasfriedrich.