Alexandra Golden is a COVID-19 reporter. She got her first Pfizer vaccination this week. This is her experience.

I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 22.

The process of getting an appointment was not as easy as I thought. I thought I would be able to go anywhere to get vaccinated, but I was limited. The problem is that I am a part of vaccination group 1A due to my job and it is very limited where that group can get vaccinated. Everywhere around where I live is doing groups 1B and up. I do not understand why it is being gatekept, but at least everyone 16 and up can register starting March 29.

My work offered the vaccine, but I had COVID-19 in November and the shots were offered in January, which was still in my 90 days, so it was not recommended because I was still in that process and I had some long haulers going on as well. It was in my best interest to wait it out, but I did not realize that I would be limited on where I could go. If I knew I would be limited, I probably would have risked it and got it when it was first offered to me. I traveled more than an hour for an available appointment.

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Card given to me to bring back for my second dose.

What is ironic is that I signed up for Lake County’s vaccination program along with the Kent State Field House’s vaccination program and did not hear anything before scheduling my appointment. After I got vaccinated, I heard back from Lake County on March 24 that I was eligible to schedule my appointment. Then I heard back from Portage County on March 25 that I was eligible to schedule. I guess I was a little impatient.

This left me making an account with Walgreens and hoping there was a spot open. I looked every day for a week but had no luck. Everywhere within 25 miles had no available appointments. I then started looking at places a little farther, this is when Niles’s Walgreens popped up with five appointments available on March 22. It was shocking to me that there was a lack of availability for appointments around me. The vaccine finder site would say there were appointments available around me but when I went on the actual Walgreens site, there was not. It was frustrating to say the least.

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Chairs were socially distanced for those to sit at while waiting after checking in.

I booked an appointment for 11:15 a.m. Besides the long drive, the process was not too bad. The process was fast once I got there. My appointment was at exactly 11:15 a.m. since I had to be there at 11 a.m. to check-in. The long drive was worth the satisfaction of getting vaccinated.

Before your check-in, you had to fill out a patient consent form. At check-in you had to give the forms, driver’s license and insurance card. Along with this, you had to check off on a paper what made you eligible. For me, it is being a staff member at a congregate living facility.

I then waited to be called back. I was nervous because I am afraid of needles. I also heard many contradicting things about how the vaccine felt, so I was just sitting there making myself more anxious than I needed to be.

When I got called back, I was sent into a room where a pharmacy staff member was there. He wiped my arm with an alcohol wipe and let it dry for 15 seconds. He said that it would feel like nothing and I wouldn’t feel it, but I didn’t believe him. This is because every time I get bloodwork done, I am always told I won’t feel it but I always do. Surprisingly, he was right. I truly did not feel the needle going in. I was relieved that it was painless and that I was free to go on with my day. He then put a Band-Aid over it and gave me directions on what to do from here. I have to come back with my card the next time I come and I had to stay in the store for 15 minutes in case I had a reaction. If I did not have a reaction I could leave when that time was done. I walked aimlessly around the store to make the time go by. I just wanted to go back home and show my parents my Band-Aid and say “look what I got!”

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This was after I got the vaccine featuring the Walgreens Band-Aid that I was the most excited about.

My arm was sore and still is sore. It is not uncommon for soreness, but that hour drive home was not enjoyable with it. I drive mainly with my left arm and since I got my shot there, this caused me to have to use my right arm which I am not used to. It just made the situation a little more difficult.

Along with this, I was really thirsty. I’ve heard before that Pfizer makes you thirsty, but I didn’t realize it was that intense. I thought people were being overdramatic with how intense it was, but they were right. I drank a whole bottle of water and a Gatorade on my hour drive home. I am glad that I listened to people beforehand and made sure I had liquids with me.

Once I got home I was very exhausted. I slept for four hours after getting the vaccine. Overall, these minor side effects are worth it in the long run. Getting vaccinated is the only way we will return back to “normal.”

If you have the option to get vaccinated, please do. We all miss in-person classes, being maskless and getting to socialize with friends without a mask. Getting vaccinated is the only way we will be able to achieve these events and adventures fully. So please, sign up to get vaccinated starting March 29, if you are not eligible already.

Alexandra Golden is a COVID-19 reporter. Contact her at agolde10@kent.edu.

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