Hi, I am Alyana, the Health & Wellness editor here at the Campanil. Being a relatively healthy college student, I was completely surprised when my employer, the mother of the children I nanny, reached out to me, letting me know that I qualified to get my vaccine. Before this, I thought I wouldn’t get vaccinated until the summer. Over the last week, I documented my experience of getting the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, from my anxieties and guilt to my flu-like side effects.
Sunday, Feb. 21, 8:45 p.m.
Like any college student on a Sunday night, I was bingeing a show on Netflix, dreading the upcoming Monday of Zoom university. As I was settling into my binge, my employer texted me that they set up an appointment for me to get vaccinated the next day. I was excited that 1) it was already set up for me and 2) I was gonna get vaccinated. This is when I decided I would document the next 24 hours in my voice memos. I was excited, nervous, anxious and guilty. I worried that I was cutting the line, stealing a vaccine from someone who needs it?. That night, as I did my pre-sleep scroll through social media, I looked at the possible side effects of the vaccine and it made my anxiety skyrocket. The irrational fear that I would get COVID-19 because I got vaccinated flooded my mind, even though that is false. My dreams that night consisted of people yelling at me, saying that I stole the vaccine and that I was unworthy of getting vaccinated.
Monday early morning, Feb. 22, 8:55 a.m.
I told myself I would wake up early and get a cute fit together. That did not happen. Due to my vaccine dreams, my sleep was pretty bad and I woke up with a headache. This is just great, I thought, now I won’t know the difference between my preexisting headache or one that might occur as a side effect. As I went through my morning, getting closer to my appointment, the feelings got more and more intense. I ended up going in my PJs and running late. As a non-native Oaklander, I didn’t know how to get to the Coliseum where my appointment was to take place.
Monday Morning, 9:40 a.m.
I made it to the Coliseum after missing the turn twice. At first glance, I saw there were so many cars there and thought it was gonna take hours. I pulled up to the first station; it was basically a check-in to make sure that all the people that came to appointments were not just randomly pulling up. As I carefully wove my car in and out of the traffic cones that were set up, I thought of it as my own personal racecourse, as if the race was to get the vaccine and the speed limit was a whopping five mph. After a few meters, I pulled up to the second station. This is where things got tense. I was afraid that the big scary military men would send me back because I wasn’t over the age of 65, but to my excitement, they did not care about my age at all. They asked for my driver’s license and checked it to the name on the appointment. Two thoughts went through my head at that point: 1) this feels like a scene out of an apocalyptic movie where everything is run by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) or the military and 2) they’re really not gonna ask questions, like what is your occupation? Or why should a 20-year-old get the vaccine? It seems like they are just using the honor system. As the man in the military getup matched my license to my appointment and I was free to go, all that was left was for me to complete the driving course they set up. Next stop, injection!
Monday Morning, 10:00 a.m.
I drove up to this big carnival-like tent, and I was greeted by three people. Before I could get a word out, they all introduced themselves and then went to play 20 questions with me. After they got my basic info, they told me it was time to get the vaccine. They saw that I was nervous and continued asking questions. In the middle of my monologue in response to all their questions, I was interrupted with a —Congrats, you’re one-half vaccinated. I was shocked — I didn’t even realize it happened. They gave me my immunization card and told me to come back in 21 days for my second shot, and then ushered my car to a waiting zone where I could wait for 15 minutes to see if I had any drastic side effects. After waiting minutes, I was on my way back to Mills.
Monday Afternoon, 11:00 a.m.
By the time I got to campus, I felt like I had been hit by a train. Tiredness, nausea, and a pounding headache were all the side effects I felt about an hour after I got my shot. I planned to attend the rest of my lectures for that day, but after I took an Advil, I fell dead asleep.
Monday Night, 6:00 p.m.
I missed all my classes and meetings for the day, but I woke up a new person with a stronger immune system. While what I felt was pretty intense, it was only temporary, and I felt like my normal self again.
Tuesday Early Morning Feb. 23, 6:00 AM
It has been almost 20 hours since I got my first injection. My body and mind feel normal, but the arm where I got my injection feels like I had my younger brother punching it for a few minutes. It was a minor inconvenience, but now I feel better about going to work and seeing all my lovely kiddos. One question did linger in my mind: How will I react to the second dose?