One reporter gets the COVID-19 vaccine

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Melina Kritikopoulos

The Sutter Health vaccination center was located in Santa Cruz.

After weeks of obsessively checking the Sutter Health website, an opening for a COVID-19 vaccine finally appeared, gleaming like a beacon of hope on my screen. Finally, I could be vaccinated.

On Saturday, March 20, I went to a Sutter Health vaccination center in Santa Cruz and recieved my first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. I qualified as an educator for the early round of vaccines since my job involves instructing smaller children, and I am 18 years old.

As expected, the process was streamlined and easy. My dad drove me up to Santa Cruz, and we managed to pick a time when very few people were there, so we barely had to wait. Yet the empty parking lot was set up in a way that would have had long, winding, theme park-like lines for cars to wait in until it was their turn. Everyone was masked and wearing gloves, with people waving neon flags to guide our car in the right direction.

We pulled up to the first checkpoint where I gave an employee my ID as they confirmed my appointment. I was already excited and shifted in the passenger seat as I waited. Next, they placed an orange laminated card on the windshield, marked with a ā€œPā€ for the Pfizer vaccine, and gave me a card stamped with the date of my next appointment: April 10. I searched around the car for a pen to fill out my name and date of birth as my dad drove us through the winding lines that, at a busier time, would have been full of traffic and eager patients.

When we pulled up to the tents that housed the vaccines, I handed them my card through the window and quickly unbuckled my seatbelt, lifting up the sleeve of my shirt. They promptly added a sticker with the vaccine type and date onto the card and handed it back to me, asking me to prepare my arm. I had to sit backwards a bit in my seat since I was on the passenger side and wanted the vaccine in my left arm, but this was the most discomfort I felt.

The nurse made some small talk with me, and before I even realized the vaccine was in, a band aid was on and we were driving to another waiting area. The attendants led us to another section of the parking lot where cars were parked six feet apart. We were asked to wait for about 15 minutes to ensure that we felt okay, and then we were back on the freeway heading home.

After the first shot, I felt some soreness in my arm, but no fatigue. The site was busier for my second shot on April 10, so I had to wait slightly longer, but the process was identical. I felt some soreness in my arm the day of receiving the second shot. That evening, I did develop a low-grade fever, but by the following afternoon, I was fine.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine was not stressful or scary, and aside from a few hours of fever, I feel perfectly fine. I know that I have done the right thing for my community and my family, ensuring not only my own safety but the safety of those around me. The most difficult part of the process was finding an appointment within a reasonable distance from my home; otherwise, getting the vaccine is a simple and pain-free process that will save countless lives.