Pinch Me and Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming, Because Your Girl Got Shot #1!

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Pinch Me and Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming, Because Your Girl Got Shot #1!

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It is, pardon the inaccurate historical depiction, like the Wild West trying to get a vaccine in Southern CA. Los Angeles has been plagued by affluent insiders getting special access codes meant for marginalized populations, keeping vulnerable groups from vaccination. This week, Orange County opened up vaccines to educators, agricultural workers, and emergency services. Before our special educator link was even emailed out to us, it was compromised by an insider sharing it and spots were taken. I obsessively checked my Othena app (Orange County’s official app) but no luck. Yesterday, my husband, also in education so eligible, woke up to a text from his boss that said “Walgreens opened for educators.” I was already teaching over Zoom, so while I continued, my husband sat on the floor two feet away and logged into Walgreens. Thankfully, I had some video clips that I was about to show after our discussion. As soon as I put the video clips on for my students, I muted myself on Zoom and told my husband to log me in on the other computer. It was like getting concert tickets. Click - “this time is no longer available.” After clicking and clicking for a minute, an appointment confirmation came through... for the NEXT DAY. I was in shock and my husband said “don’t get your hopes up” because so many appointments have been cancelled or supplies have run out. And it seemed so unbelievable. I screenshot the confirmation and hoped for the best. In the words of the musical Hamilton, I was not throwing away my shot. I didn’t actually get a confirmation email until 10:45 pm - 13 hours later, but was still skeptical. In a bit of poetic irony, the Walgreens I selected (at random) is 45 minutes away in a city called Corona. So you could say I was headed to Corona to beat Corona. The whole way there, I braced for being turned away. When I checked in, I was shocked it was actually happening. Then they took my temperature. I get cold really easily, so the whole ride to Corona we left the air off (my husband drove me in case I had after effects... and because I haven’t driven since March 16, 2020) even though it was about 80. I also have bangs on my forehead and when I’m nervous my heart races like I’m running a marathon. Bad combo. My temperature was too high for a vaccine. My heart broke inside and the lady looked at me and said “just fill this out, relax, and I’ll take it again.” She did a few minutes later and I honestly don’t know if she flubbed it for me or not, but five minutes later, I had Pfizer shot dose one. And, finding out I was a teacher, the woman administering the shot told me to get my phone out to take a picture! She said “don’t you want a picture?” She was as happy as I was. No joke, as I started getting my vaccine, the very cheesy Natasha Bedingfield song “Unwritten” played on the Walgreens speaker, and after getting my post shot instructions, I walked out of the store (to wander around for the required 15 minutes outside) with Natasha singing “Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten.” It was so ridiculous that I really considered maybe I’m in a Truman Show situation. I also teared up because the eleven months of not driving my car, seeing my students, seeing my friends, seeing my family sort of hit me... it’s a lot of emotion to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I did also consider the sobering reality that you have to be tipped off to be able to snag a vaccine appointment. By the time I told people that Walgreens was legitimately open for us, the appointments were booked. While I am overjoyed for myself, I can’t help but be saddened at how this whole process has unfolded. I really hope they can fix the system so unrepresented populations who might not have a boss that can text them as soon as appointments open can equitably access protection. It’s only been four hours, so no side effects yet. I do feel like my entire body has been clenched for eleven months and it has finally relaxed... I may actually get a worry free night of sleep for the first time in a long time. In short, the gratitude I have is immeasurable.

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This item was submitted on February 24, 2021 by Kathryn Jue using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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