I never thought I’d be thankful to be overweight — until I learned it brought me into group 1c of the COVID-19 vaccine.
When it was initially announced people in 1c would be eligible for the vaccine one week sooner than originally expected, I decided it was time to find an appointment.
I put my name on three different waitlists – a pharmacy, Fort HealthCare and Jefferson County’s department of health on March 18. Four days later, I received an email from the county saying I would be able to set up an appointment on March 25.
It was exciting to know I wouldn’t have to wait very long to get in for my first dose. There have been many people across the nation who have lamented the fact that they can’t get an appointment and some who have needed to drive an hour away to get a vaccine. For me, it was a 15-minute drive to the Jefferson County Fair Park and could be done during a lunch break.
The vaccine clinic reminded me of the times I’d volunteered with fan conventions — people standing in structured lines with each of the volunteers or staff members assigned a specific duty. This person was checking your temperature and asking if you had any symptoms or were allergic to any vaccine ingredients; the next person handing you forms to fill out and instructions to raise your hand when completed. The third stop was getting the vaccination information sheets before finally being told to follow the yellow strips of tape on the floor to the vaccination area. (And yes, I started to hum “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” when I saw the strips.)
If the volunteers were like the people directing the entry line and providing the wristbands at a convention, the medical professionals giving the actual vaccine were the celebrity guests. They were the ones you had come to see.
While waiting for a volunteer to bring around the vaccination card and dose of vaccine, I talked with my vaccinator — a woman who was studying nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I asked if the process had gotten repetitive: Roll up the sleeve, use the alcohol wipe, stick the needle, slap on the bandage, done. She just shrugged a bit and said that, while repetitive, being able to give the vaccine was helping a lot of people even if the process was a bit monotonous.
I was in a pretty good mood despite the gloomy weather. I mean, I was getting the first dose of the vaccine, which meant by the end of April I would be fully vaccinated.
I joked with the nursing student about the location of the next clinic: It would be in a vacant store at Johnson Creek Premium Outlets.
“I get it. They want to tempt me to shop after getting the shot,” I said.
The nurse joked that maybe there was some agreement with Nike since the vaccine clinic would be located right next to that store.
“Maybe it’s some sort of sponsorship deal,” she said.
After getting a quick poke in my upper left arm (which would rate a 1 on the pain scale, less painful than stubbing my toe or getting a cramp in my calf), the nurse applied a small round Band-Aid.
“What, no dinosaur Band-Aids?” I asked.
“No, the government doesn’t like you enough to spend that kind of money,” the nurse said before directing me to the post-shot waiting area.
The clinic had everyone who received a shot wait in the building for 15 minutes to ensure there were no adverse side effects. I set the timer on my phone and waited. A person sitting near me read a book and I was silently disappointed in myself that I had not brought a book with me. I played a game on my phone as the timer on my phone counted down the minutes and seconds. I looked around at all the people who were in the building and gave them all mental high fives for either helping run the clinic or for getting a vaccine.
One dose down. One to go.