It was a Pat Benatar kind of day, a day when I knew I would say, at least once, “Hit me with your best shot.” I was scheduled for a vaccination, my first, and I couldn’t get Benatar's lyrics out of my head. I’d played them over and over again and knew them by heart. Of course, the woman who gave me the shot, or the “jab,” as some call it, knew the Benatar song from 1980. When I said, “Hit me with your best shot,” she said. “Fire away.” Whatever the song was meant to be about, it definitely wasn’t meant to be about the diabolical pandemic and the vaccine that promises so much. I arrived early at the community center near my house and got in line. I expected the worst. I’d read the horror stories in the local papers and watched TV news about the vaccine. As Marilyn Davin noted in a recent AVA, “California has one of the worst Covid vaccine injection rates in the country.” LA had run out. So had Napa. Sonoma had made a mess. Mendo wasn’t much better. Accurate information was hard to come by.
So, there I was, in line, one of millions around the country going through an elaborate ritual to be healthy, and not to die, not just yet.
Soon enough, a long line snaked behind me. We waited. We were all over 75 (that was a requirement) and we were all masked. We tried to socially distance, but most of the people in line wanted to socialize and did. The medicinal crew was on lunch break when I arrived and wouldn’t be back until 2 p.m.. Right on the hour the doors opened. I was ushered inside and directed to table #2 where I met Natalie, who asked me a bunch of questions, before Mary, the phlebotomist, hit me with her best shot.
Natalie wanted to know if I had recently had a fever, diarrhea, headaches, had come into contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, or already received a vaccination. I had no trouble replying “No,” “No,” “No, ” and “No” and no problem saying “No” when Natalie asked “Are you pregnant and or breast feeding?” I did not look pregnant nor in any way like a woman who was nursing a child. I paused for a few moments and shook my head. Natalie added, “I had to ask. You never know these days.”
Natalie filled out a small card that read “COVID-19 Vaccination Record.” She added my name, DOB, the date the vaccine was administered and my eight-digit “patient number” that begins “659.” The card went into my wallet where it now lives all the time, along with my driver’s license, credit card and library card.
Mary explained that I was getting “The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to prevent Coronavirus Disease.” I rolled up the sleeve of the turtleneck sweater, turned away and relaxed. I didn’t want to see the needle going into my arm. It was more like a prick than a hit and it was over in seconds. I didn’t feel a thing. Best shot I’ve ever had and I’ve had loads ever since boyhood. Natalie suggested that at home I take a hot bath and that I move my arms. Next, I had to sit and wait and be observed for about 30 minutes to see if I might have an adverse reaction. Others were seated in the room, all of us more than six-feet apart. I didn't have an allergic reaction. I drove home and followed Natalie’s suggestions. I soaked in the bathtub, plus I used a gummie with CBD and THC to relax.
The following day, a Friday, my arm was sore. Nothing else was out of the ordinary. I realized on that Friday that I felt greatly relieved that I’d had my first shot. My anxiety level dropped.
That day I roamed around the county asking people at random if they had already gotten a shot, or if they were planning to get one. People in the medical field had already received two shots. They were certain the vaccination would help. I was surprised that a large number of people said they had not yet decided to get the shot. One woman told me, “I haven’t made up my mind. I have five children. I have to think of them as well as me.”
I can understand why many don’t want the shot. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is not guaranteed to protect everyone, nor is it approved by the FDA. The agency has not approved any vaccine. Still, it seems like a gamble worth taking to put COVID-19 back in its box, close the lid and listen to Pat Benatar sing, “Hit me with your best shot — fire away.”