I got my first Covid vaccine shot today, the Pfizer one. It was unplanned until maybe an hour and a half beforehand when a few time-slots popped up as available at the Wolstein Center. In a mere five weeks, I will be theoretically mostly immune to the disease that has so dramatically affected the world for over a year.
I became eligible two days previously (Ohio now allows all adults to get it). I tried to find appointments each day on Ohio’s Covid website as well as several pharmacy and health institution websites, but there were none available within 20 or 50 miles on most. The Cleveland Clinic had some up North but not until nearly a month away. CVS had some over two hours away. My thought was that they were only scheduling for the small amounts of vaccine they already had, so I held out hope that I would find something better. Especially with one of the mass locations at the Summit County Fairgrounds as well as a Clinic location in Akron that are supposed to have them.
My mom emailed about the Fairgrounds location starting up on April 3rd this morning. I checked on Ohio’s site and still no appointments available. She mentioned to check the Wolstein Center up in Cleveland, another mass vaccination location. I used that area code in the search while on lunch and no appointments were available. When I got back home, before clocking back in for work, I checked again on my laptop. This time, several popped up for the same day. Must’ve been cancellations. After making sure I’d have enough time to make the drive and deciding I might as well, I signed up. The later times that I had seen at first had disappeared while I was deciding, so I took the later of the two remaining.
I told people at work that I was cutting out extra early today to go get the shot, so I didn’t work very much today. Then I got ready and headed off. Luckily traffic wasn’t too bad going up to Cleveland since it was during the day. Right around the center it was kind of bad though. The drive was shorter than I had thought it would be. I probably could’ve taken the appointment a half hour earlier. So I drove around for a while, unsure what would happen if I came early.
As the time approached, my anxiety was building up. It got so bad that I drove past the center the first time I had planned to stop, thinking I’d have to cancel. I stepped out of my car a few times at red lights because I just had to stand up. I ended up wrong way on a one way street briefly, though it strangely had a double yellow line. I turned around and made my way back to the front drive of the Center, where I saw tents. It quickly became apparent that wasn’t the place to go, so I had to wait for the line of cars that made the same mistake to get out. I then headed to the nearby parking deck where a mass of cars was a slow stop and go. I found myself in the wrong lane for the deck, but a cop directed me over to a nearby parking lot that was also being used for the Center.
Once I got parked, I was able to stand for a bit, drink some water, but I still felt unsure if I could make it. I walked across the street and got in line, by this time a few minutes past my appointment time. At the door, a guy asked me a couple questions and took my temperature, stood there for like a minute or two, then said I could follow the green dots on the floor through the concourse. I saw a bathroom and got out of line to go and also try to settle my anxiety. It only kind of worked. I got to the back of the inside line and continued on. The line moved quickly luckily.
I got up to a lady with a kiosk who asked for my information and a few other questions, then directed me to follow the next set of green dots. They took me back in the direction I came but on the other side of a divider. I then was directed down some stairs and onto the gym floor of the Center. There were hundreds of chairs spread out across the floor. We were directed down the next row, filling from one side to the other and then to the next row back. I stood at first, feeling too anxious to sit. It got worse as the guy moving back from chair to chair in my column approached.
He had me sit when he got to me. I did and answered his questions. I told him I was feeling anxious: He told me it would be fine, that they had done this like 1500 times. He scheduled my next appointment for three weeks in the future and gave me a card, telling me I need to bring it to the appointment. He left and as the shot person approached my anxiety continued to grow, and I considered asking if I could go find a place to lie down for a bit and have them come back to me.
I removed my hoodie as he approached and then could only sit and simply answer his questions. The shot didn’t feel like it penetrated deep and didn’t hurt that much, just a prick, then a little wobble as presumably he injected the stuff, then it was done. He said I could leave any time but it was recommended to sit and wait 15 minutes. I leaned back in my chair and waited. My anxiety slowly settled.
I observed myself for any feeling of a reaction. I felt tingling and other sensations most likely resulting from the anxiety. Nothing that seemed to be an allergic reaction.
The guy next to me had a button down long sleeve shirt on with the sleeves rolled up. The shot giver said he needed to roll up the sleeve more and offered to let him go to a privacy room to remove it. He stayed and persisted trying to roll the sleeve up further, and ended up tearing it, providing a hole big enough for the shot to be administered through. He asked the shot giver if that was a first, and he replied that it was. Funny. I overheard another woman farther back having a problem with her sleeve, but I think they resolved that without any tearing.
A bit later, a woman a couple rows back must’ve collapsed. Some of the staff came to her aid and asked her questions. I looked back for a second and she was sitting on the ground. She seemed to be responding fine, saying she knew this would happen and that she felt hot. They brought out a stretcher and lifted her. She said she was sweaty, but they said she wasn’t the sweatiest person they’d lifted that day. Funny. Not wanting to be an embarrassing onlooker, with the next time-slot hitting, and feeling better, I got up and walked out.
When I got out, I was a little disoriented as to where I was, but it was on the other side of the center and I found a walkway to get back toward my car. As I walked, I felt a brief but strong cramp in my leg. Unsure if some symptoms were starting to show up, I walked slowly the long way to my car and sat in it for a bit before leaving to be sure I was alright. The lot was not busy and besides for being quite tight, was easy to get out of.
To make use of my part day off and my relative closeness to MicroCenter, I headed there. I’ve been wanting a new laptop, some Raspberry Pi stuff, a mouse, and some hard drives. I spent some time checking out the laptops, seeing how the devices I read about online looked, felt, and functioned in real life, though it’s fairly limited what can be done with them on the display shelf. I didn’t make a decision, though some of my concerns from reviews were allayed. I also didn’t get any Pi stuff, because they seemed to have a much more limited selection than last time I was there. The mouse I want was too expensive there. The drives weren’t enticing enough without me having a good idea of what I wanted.
I also stopped at Best Buy, but they apparently were closing in ten minutes, so I only got a little time checking out their wares before leaving. They did have options that weren’t at MicroCenter though, so it was useful reconnaissance.
Then, I drove home. I dropped a bottle cap down the crack beside the car seat and kind of pulled a muscle trying to get it out. I lay down for a bit once I got inside, went out in my back yard briefly while the sun was still up, then prepared dinner. It was already late. I told a few people about getting the shot via message and talked to my brother about laptops for a bit.
I haven’t had too much in the way of side affects so far, at least that I can be sure isn’t instead a result of my anxiety attack. I felt some tingling, weakness, joint pain, and back pain, but those are all common for me, especially after an anxiety incident. I am tired, but that’s also common for me, especially since I haven’t been sleeping well.
I had muscles cramp up briefly occasionally, my leg and my hands. My shot arm started hurting after I got home, like four hours after the shot. Sitting without moving, it’s generally fine. It also might be fine when moving, but sometimes it isn’t, and varies in intensity. It’s most likely to hurt when lifting things or the like. It can be strong sometimes, enough that I considered not washing dishes. It even can hurt when typing, mainly when I have to leave home row.
I felt a slight feeling of nausea once or twice. I’ve also felt a slight sore throat feel off and on.
I had kind of wanted the Johnson and Johnson shot, since it’s one and done. I will have to go back to the Wolstein Center again, and a half hour closer to rush hour. The Akron location is supposed to have the J&J option, so if I’d waited for that, I might’ve been done quicker overall. But, I’m done with the sign-up process, have the immunity building process started, and have a date I can expect to be considered immune. With the system the way it is, I didn’t know when or if any other appointments would show up for me before that date.
I wouldn’t have been in a rush, but my boss wants us to come back into the office as soon as possible. Since there’s a long period between getting the first shot and immunity, I wanted to get moving on it.
Once I found an appointment, the website was simple to use and guided me through everything, taking only a couple minutes to get the confirmation email and be signed up. However, before that popped up, it seemed like nothing was available, and it was entirely unclear if this was simply because they were only booking short periods at once or because they were booked solid for months. I just had to try all the many locations listed separately, repeatedly, until something popped up. Perhaps they could’ve given more info about how the arrival of the vaccines and the availability of appointments worked beforehand, and maybe have everything go through the state website, with a sign up and adjacency calculations to let people know when shots are available nearby.
The mass shot distribution system itself seems to work efficiently enough.
Getting to parking was slightly confusing and stop and go, but went relatively quickly overall. The police were at several intersections around controlling traffic, allowing pedestrians to get to and from their cars and getting cars to the garage and lots. The front drive of the Center with tents made it seem like a drive-in area. Maybe a bit more information in the email might’ve made it easier to know where to go.
The Center had tents marking the entrance. There were lines but they moved fairly quickly. One checkpoint at the door with a temperature check and a few questions about being sick, another had me give my personal information and a couple more questions, green dots and people along the whole way providing direction. Then pointed to seats.
Seating went from one side to the other of the row, then back one to the next row, until all rows were filled, then presumably back to the front, though I didn’t get to see that. The personal came from front to back along columns, with two per column. The first took information and scheduled the next appointment, the second administered the shot. Went smoothly and quickly. Seemed to have plenty of time allotted to allow people to wait their fifteen minutes for allergy checks with a wide gap between leavers and arrivers. They sprayed the seats after people left.
The place was staffed by national guards in uniform and some others wearing blue shirts I believe. The guard presence was a little intimidating at first, but everybody was very friendly. The guards and others were like every 15 feet along the way out, and most of them said “Have a good day” or “Thank you” or the like as we went. Nice.
The email they gave had basic info of what to do and a QR code and alpha-numeric code it said to show when I got there. Every time I approached a “checkpoint” in the line, I opened up my email app, only to find that I didn’t need it. Never did. Perhaps they should’ve just said that it may be needed or something rather than implying it would be.