Last Friday, amid the drama and fanfare of the new refrigerator arriving, I waited on hold with the Sullivan County Health Department for nearly 40 minutes, convinced that I wasn’t really even on hold anymore, just stuck in some sort of never-ending loop, wondering if I should hang up and dial again. (Many thanks to my Facebook friends who insisted that I just keep holding on!) I had read that my group was starting vaccinations yesterday, March 15, and that the Health Department was actually taking appointments, which had not been done with some of the early vaccination groups, so I didn’t want to miss my opportunity to get on their books. When someone finally came on the line, I actually cried when she asked for my information for making my appointment for today. Yes, it means that much to me.

Two different administration sites had been announced for the latest round of vaccines. Two days at Bristol Motor Speedway, March 15 and 16, and later in the week at a local area park with which I’m unfamiliar. I “know” the track and hoped that I would get one of those appointments, but was truly just praying to get an appointment at all. When the lady from the health department was getting my information, she said to me, “We can get you in on Tuesday morning, March 16, at 10:20 a.m. at Bristol Motor Speedway. We’ll be administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine there. Is that okay with you?”

Is that okay with me? Had I really just gotten lucky enough to have been offered the “one and done” vaccination? I eagerly replied, “If that’s what you have available, I’ll take it!” I could feel my anxiety levels about everything for the entire day come down about three notches! See, I want the vaccination. I think that it is important to get the vaccination. I believe in the vaccination. But waiting a month between the first and second doses would really work on my nerves, and I knew that going into it. Because I have anxiety attacks over just about everything these days. I took it as a prayer answered. And thus far, it has been.

I arrived at BMS around 10:05 a.m. and drove right in. Two cars were ahead of me off of the main road. They checked our names off of the appointment sheets and sent us up the hill. There, I waited in line about 20 minutes, giving me time to fill out my vaccination paperwork for the nurses, and the vaccination card for myself. (It is now tucked safely in my fireproof safe, right beside my passport. They symbolize much the same things.) The nice man who gave my shot asked if I have any medical allergies and I told him yes, penicillin. He asked what happens when I have penicillin. I responded that I only had it once, but I swelled up and had to be packed in ice (I was a very small child). He asked if I have any breathing problems. I said, yes, asthma, but I have an inhaler right here with me, the whole time thinking, “Please, please, please, don’t let that mess me up from getting this shot!” Then he asked if it was okay to administer the shot in my left arm, we rolled up my sleeve, and he did a fantastic job. I barely felt the sting as the needle went into my arm. He put on my band-aid, and then I got in line with some other cars, and waited for approximately 15 minutes, drove down the hill, exited the BMS grounds, and headed home. It was a great layout and professionally executed on all levels.

Initially, I experienced a little soreness at the injection site, but I do that with just about every shot I get. It was nothing major and no swelling or knots around the site. I admittedly felt a little dizzy for a few minutes, but that could have been exhilaration or anxiety, too; I’m not counting that as a true side effect. And I have had a headache on and off most of the afternoon. But I get headaches a lot, and there are weather fronts moving in and out of the area with incoming rain, so I can’t even call the headache a side effect for certain. What I know I feel is relief. Relief that it is over. Relief that there is only one. Relief that this happened one year after things closed down last year; I honestly did not foresee a vaccine coming this quickly at that time. I feel #Blessed that I was able to get in today and feel like it all happened as it was meant to be. Tomorrow may bring some side effects – but I feel safe and secure for my future now. For someone who was tested for covid on three separate occasions in the past year, that brings a tremendous amount of peace of mind. And if you haven’t gotten your vaccination yet, I hope that you will soon – that you won’t be kept holding on too much longer.