Reporter: Vaccine gives me more assurance

Editor's note: In this story, The Herald is not advocating for or against the COVID-19 vaccine. We are simply sharing one reporter's experience receiving it.


Candy Neal

Vaccine #2 is in the books.

I got my second Moderna shot Saturday afternoon. And I had less of a reaction than I did the first.

That’s not a guarantee that people won’t have a reaction. Those vary. The only thing that happened for me was a little soreness in the area where I got the shot, and that slowly subsided throughout Sunday.

My friend, who also got her second shot Saturday, didn’t fare as well. On Sunday morning she had a headache and chills, and her upper arm was sore. She took some ibuprofen, and things started easing up as the day progressed.

Having a reaction is possible, the nurse told me when I went to the clinic. She listed a number of things that could possibly happen, with chills, headaches and soreness being among them. Their recommendation is to take ibuprofen or Tylenol if there is a reaction.

Although she had a reaction to the shot, my friend said she was fine with going through it, because she really wanted to get the vaccine. I agree. The reactions may be tough in the moment, but they will pass. I’d rather endure those moments than risk getting the virus, or worse yet carry COVID to someone I love who may not be able to fight off the virus.

So I marched proudly over to Jasper Middle School Saturday afternoon, right on time, to get my second dose. It was somewhat of a social event for me. I saw my now-retired optometrist; I was glad to see her volunteering her time to help at the clinic. A member of my adopted Jasper family was there, so we chatted for a few minutes. I saw a media colleague who I hadn’t seen in months. I was able to share well wishes with an acquaintance who got married fairly recently.

I did have to make a return trip to my car to get my insurance card. To get the vaccine, I had to have that, my photo ID and my COVID-19 vaccination card. Some people I know razzed me as I made my walk of embarrassment to the parking lot and back. But I laughed it off; and I got to see even more folks I knew who were coming in.

Surprisingly, I didn’t even feel the prick of the needle this time. The nurse warned me the stick was coming, I talked to the clerk who was giving me my ID and insurance card back, and then the nurse was putting a Looney Tunes bandage on my arm. The shot was done.

Now I’m in my two-week waiting period. So I need take the same precautions as I did before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

After the two weeks are over, I’ll be fully vaccinated. And with that, there will be more things I can do, such as visit other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. I’ll even be able to visit without wearing a mask around unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness. But since I don’t personally know who those people are, I’ll be keeping my mask on around unvaccinated folks, just as a precaution.

I’ll be able to travel domestically without a pre- or post-travel test and without quarantining after travel. I already have a plan to visit my mother in St. Louis for Mother’s Day weekend. Although my two weeks are up on April 24, her two weeks won’t be complete until May 5; she gets her second shot on April 21.

But being vaccinated doesn’t mean that I can go everywhere mask free. The CDC recommends that I still avoid crowds and poorly ventilated places and still stay 6 feet away from people while in public. All that makes sense, because I don’t know who is vaccinated and who isn’t. And it would be really weird asking strangers if they are vaccinated or not.

Although the vaccine gives me a lot of protection, it’s not 100%. So the CDC says that I should still be careful and watch our for symptoms, especially if I’m around someone who has the virus. If I show symptoms, I need to get tested and stay away from others.

I know there is no 100% guarantee that I won’t get the virus. But I feel that getting the vaccine greatly reduces my chance. More importantly, it reduces the chance of me carrying the virus to someone I love, like my mother. That’s why I’ve not visited her in months. And that’s why I was so adamant about getting the vaccine as soon as I was eligible.

I can’t wait to hug her next month.

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