Covid Vaccine: Shot #1

Today was my first Covid vaccine shot – a huge milestone in this pandemic, and the start of a new phase of things. A small bit of motion towards normalcy, whatever that ends up being.

The location I got was the same place that Liz went a few days ago: the Forest Park vaccination site (a huge, empty space in a strip mall that used to house a Home Depot type superstore).

Liz’s experience was incredibly efficient – she said she walked up, and was in and out pretty quickly. Little did I know that my experience would be completely different from hers.

First thing – I couldn’t find any parking spots near the entrance. So I parked in an adjoining lot, and walked over. And that’s when I saw the line. Or should I say… the start of the line.

Which stretched a decent distance.

The line, continued. I did make it a point around here to stop and ask if everyone waiting had appointments (they did).

The line wrapped around the side of the strip mall, and back towards the loading docks. I actually stopped a second time around here to verify that everyone waiting had appointments (they did).

And here’s where the “end of the line” was.

A technician was around, checking QR codes… but she wasn’t scanning anything, and just looking at them. Felt a little odd to me, but she was making the rounds. I overheard her say that they had underestimated the turnout today.

Making good progress – after about 30-40 minutes, I felt like I got halfway towards the entrance. The line was actually moving faster than I thought it would (on arriving for a 2PM appointment, I was convinced I wouldn’t even get inside until 5PM).

More progress. During the walk, I saw several older individuals shuffling along slowly in the other direction. I could only assume they were heading to the end of the line, and I knew they had at least an hour on their feet, if not more.

Luckily, at one point, I saw a pair of military personnel walking towards the end of the line with a wheelchair.

Able to see the entrance! At this point, a pair of medical techs walked out, and seemed to be leaving for the day. They apologized to everyone for the delay, and I was able to flag down one of the women to ask a question.

I mentioned an older man I saw, shuffling his way towards what I assumed was the end of the line. I asked if they might have more wheelchairs, because I was concerned about how long he’d be standing. The woman immediately turned around, went back inside, and came out with a wheelchair and said she would “try to catch him.”

Almost in! I got here around 1:45 PM, and I’d say this was around 3:15 PM. A good solid hour plus, finding the end of the line, and working my way back to the front.

We weren’t supposed to take any photos inside, but I couldn’t help myself. The whole space was massive, with desks set up everywhere. And each desk had its own power source, coming down from the ceiling, to power a printer and computer at each station.

I’d say the site was about 65% set up, as there were several stations that had technicians working to wire things up. The sheer scope of the room was really something to behold, just desk after desk after desk.

The young man who checked me in was really enthusiastic, and I learned that they had just opened up last week (Friday in fact, was their first day – the very day that Liz went for her shot).

On Friday, they vaccinated 458 people. Their goal, he told me, was to vaccinate 3,500 people per day. And today was by far their busiest day.

The woman who gave me the actual shot was all business. I did get a choice of arm (I chose my right arm, given my tendency to sleep on my left side). There was no bedside manner, no gentle prep. Liz told me she barely felt hers, but my shot was like an angry hornet. The woman jabbed my arm like she was checking the temperature of a beef tenderloin.

The whole time, she was sighing a lot… and the comparison I had was this: she had been waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, and I was the third person to just cut right in front of her.

Looking back, I’m sure she was exhausted, and had been working nonstop all day. Regardless, I’m happy and lucky and excited and incredibly thankful that I was able to get an appointment, and to get my first vaccination shot.

As emotional as I’ve been in the week prior to this appointment, I experienced none of the overwhelming anxiety or sadness from a few days ago. The whole process was incredibly boring and chore-like, and I think that helped change my brain. I felt more happiness than sorrow, more gratitude than grief.

On my way out, it was circa 4PM, and I decided to drive around the strip mall to check out the line. Here’s what I saw. Keep in mind that the end of the line for me was near the orange cones that appear, after passing the loading docks/trucks (2:25).

On the drive home, I spotted a friendly image: a reminder of my short tenure as an official Nerd.

The Appointment
Chicago Nerds

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