Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.
The COVID-19 virus has been devastating for the past year. Half a million of our fellow citizens have dIed. Our economy has been crippled. The solution going forward is the newly developed vaccines. As more and more people gets vaccinated, and more people gets infected and survived, we will soon reach herd immunity.
- Feb. 2021
updated Mar. 2021
I am 69 years old and retired. As most, we are staying home and keeping social distancing and wearing our face mask when going out for groceries shopping and hiking. Since the announcement of the vaccine, I have been checking the State website to schedule an appointment. Being over 65 years old, I am part of the early candidates for the vaccines.
It was very difficult finding any appointments within my town in Northern Westchester county of of NY. In fact, it was nearly impossible. After a month, I was finally able to get an appointment in Binghamton, NY about 160 miles away. My appointment date was Feb. 22, 2021.
On the early morning of that day, I got up at 6:30 am and had my morning coffee. I got my appointment ticket printed and made sure I have my insurance card and a photo ID in my wallet.
I drove to SUNY Binghamton as I have done on many occasions since two of my children have attended that university. It is an easy drive from my house that takes about three hours. I made sure I had enough time in case of traffic or bad weather.
I arrived at the designated location an hour before my scheduled appointment. It was a huge tent setup in a parking lot on the SUNY campus. Snow began to fall and the forecast was for 4-6 inches of accumulation. I decided to get some breakfast at a nearby McDonalds. I ordered via the drive thru and ate in my car. It was my usual Sausage egg McMuffin meal with hash brown.
After breakfast, I checked my email on my iPad and the news just to pass the time. I made my way back to the vaccine location and was instructed to park nearby the tent. I proceeded in with my paperwork at hand. The place was huge with many helpers directing people and checking us in. Within minutes, we were lead to a huge room with about 30 stations. The sign said no photos. I would have taken a photo just to record the occasion. I am sure it would be something historic for future generations.
I was directed to table number 9 and a nurse and her assistant was sitting there. She informed me to take my shirt off and asked which arm is my preference. She told me about the Pfizer vaccine and some possible side effects. She gave me the vaccine on my upper right arm since I am left handed.
She also informed me that I will be scheduled automatically for the second done in three weeks time. I will be notified by email confirmation.
I asked the nurse how long have they been working there and she said about a month and everyday 7am to 7pm. Each slot is 15 minutes. A quick calculation tells me they are immunizing about 1200 people a day at this facility.
Then, I was directed to another room where there were 30 or so chairs spaced apart, I needed to stay and wait 15 minutes to see if there was any adverse reaction. Once the time is up, I could leave.
I must say the whole process was well organized and efficient, I was in and out within 30 minutes.
Heading Home in the Snow
As I left the facility, I stopped and took a photo of the outside. I noticed the snow is falling heavier and the ground is sticking. I felt a sense of relieve and gratitude that I live in a country where a life saving vaccine was available and free. When you think about it, it is almost miraculous that we were able to develop a vaccine in such a short time period of 11 months. A typical vaccine takes years to develop and tested and approved by the FDA. This vaccine was fast tracked by our government, operation warp speed to get it from the lab to my arm in less than a year since the start of the pandemic.
I got back into my car and decided to head home since the drive would be long and I was not sure how much snow will be coming down over the next few hours. The GPS estimated 3 hours driving time but I know that is optimistic under the current road conditions. I decided to take my time and just follow the traffic. Once I got onto Route 17, I was behind a sand truck and just followed him for a good part. I also decided to call some of my family and friends to catch up. I knew I had at least a three hour span and I wanted to share with them my experience. A few had already received the vaccine but most had not.
I was also surprised by a few friends who said they elected not to take the vaccine. One had a bad reaction to the flu shot and did not want to take the chance. Another cited some study that the vaccine had some serious side effects.
I made one stop at a Dunkin Donut for coffee and continued my trip home. The snow was coming down harder now and sticking. Even my car was covered with wet snow and a warning light came on in my dash. It said my front camera is out of service and that the automatic collusion feature is off line. I pulled into a gas station to clean off the wet snow. I continued my trip and the light wet off. It was comforting to know the safety feature in my minivan does work. This was the first occasion I had seen this warning in my two years of owning this vehicle.
I spent the rest of the trip calling a half dozen people and just chatting. It made my trip go much faster even though I noticed the expected arrival time was slipping. I ended up taking 4 hours to get home.
After a day, I felt a soreness on my right arm. Not too bad. I was able to perform all duties and even volunteered at my fencing club. We are getting ready for our move to a new facility of the Fencers Club.
My Second Shot...March 15, 2021
Exactly three weeks later, I drove back to SUNY Binghamton to get my second dose.
This time, the process was even simpler. I was in and out of there in less than 30 minutes. I got a slightly bigger reaction than the first dose. That evening, I got a bit of chills. I took an Aleve and went straight to bed. The next morning, I was back to normal. I was able to volunteer at my club during the day and even stayed till evening to fence a bit. After four long months hiatus, it was good to get back to fencing practice.
I did hear from many of my friends that the Moderna shot was much worst and they had to stay home for two days after the second dose.
If you have a choice, take the Pfizer or J&J vaccines.
We Stopped at Resort World Casino on the way home.
Our New Fencing Club Almost Completed Renovation
All Packed and Ready to Move...
I look forward in three weeks time to a return trip and receive my second dose. If the weather cooperates, I would probably make some stops just to breakup the long drive. When we used to make this trip when my kids were attending SUNY Binghamton, we would often stop near Monticello. It was about midway.
With my doses of the vaccine, I am hoping to return to fencing practice. I took a hiatus during the second wave. We are working to renovate a new fencing facility midtown.
Our expectation is to complete by Mid March, just in time for my second dose to be administered.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jack Lee
Jack Lee (author) from Yorktown NY on February 24, 2021:
I have heard some of the death count were mis labelled. Apparently, for some hospitals and nursing homes, a covid death will bring more revenue to their facility. However, I have heard enough first and second hand anecdotes that this virus is very real and deadly. Better be safe than sorry. On any given year, we do get approx. 50,000 death due to the flu. Some years worst than others...
The Logician on February 24, 2021:
Jack, do you really believe the real covid mortality number is over 500,000!
Check the total annual mortality data in the US for 2019 and compare it to the total mortality data for 2020. If the Covid Virus has had such a devastating effect you should see at least hundreds of thousands of deaths more than last years total mortality data. Right? The annual Data doesn’t ever change by more than a few thousand year to year. So 2020 should have been way over the norm by hundreds of thousands - not a chance because most of the Covid deaths reported were actually deaths that would have occurred with or without Covid!
Jack Lee (author) from Yorktown NY on February 24, 2021:
Liz, everything about this new virus seems to be unknown. We don't know for sure the incubation period, we don't know why some are super spreaders, we don't know if wearing masks is helpful, we don't know why some are asymptomatic, we don't know where it originated or how? It seems the "experts" are just flying by the seat of their pants. I am just going to use common sense and follow my good instincts.
Liz Westwood from UK on February 24, 2021:
This is an interesting account of your experience. In the UK, quite early on the decision was taken to extend the gap between jabs. That way more can get the first injection. History will show whether this was the right decision.