benefits of being “old”

First, I realize that we are among the privileged to be able to talk about getting a vaccine as being a historic moment in one’s life. In contrast, in other places globally, vaccines are still rare, and the daily numbers are now quite unmanageable. In light of this, I didn’t think I would be recording down this day. But, after my experience in trying to get a vaccine appointment, which seemed like the luck of the draw or winning the lottery (not that I play or have won), I decided to document this moment [1]It’s somewhat ironic to me that the US was doing so poorly when it came to COVID cases. Yet, … Continue reading

Eligibility

A couple of weeks ago, we qualified to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine due to our age[2]The criteria for eligibility seems to change week from week these days, so it’s tough to … Continue reading. I echo my sister’s sentiment and admit that this is a time when being older has its benefits (i.e. turning 40 during a pandemic pays off). When I started chatting with friends online about it who also qualified, I was surprised to hear the hesitancy around getting that kind specifically; many weren’t against the vaccine but wanted to hold off for Pfizer or Moderna because of what they heard about the risk of blood clots (less risky than the chance of blood clot when taking the birth control pill or if you catch COVID) and the efficacy rates. That seemed like a big contrast to the appetite and demand from local online chatter (kwtech, discord, and sites like Vaccine Finder), which reflected how fast available appointments went!

Getting an Appointment

I gave up my personal information and signed up for a few wait-lists at pharmacies, both big and small. Nothing. I did get emails a couple of times when spots opened up at a smaller pharmacy, but even though I clicked through as soon as the email came, the spots were already filled up!

So the psychology of scarcity really worked, because although it was no big deal really to wait (since we rarely go anywhere, but I do work at an office once a week and interact with people mask-to-mask), I started to look forward to getting an appointment. I also began to wonder if those wait-lists were real since I didn’t hear back from the rest of them (and still haven’t to this day).

I think j.w realized how difficult it was to secure a spot, so despite his initial reservations at booking at a big box store, he took the first available spot at our local Walmart pharmacy. By the time he refreshed the page, there were no more openings to sign me up. A day later, he shared the VacinneHuntersCanada Discord server/space with me; I muddled my way through the channels and discovered that flyers with an email address and phone number were sent to hot-spot neighbourhoods. I vaguely recalled getting a flyer, but I recycled it, thinking it was a generic “get a vaccine” letter; it still might have been, but through the chatter on Discord, I discovered that people 18+ in our postal code got vaccine appointments by contacting the email address or phone number, which was facilitated by the YMCA. To my surprise, I received a booking confirmation(via phone) with the Region within 24 hours!

The Appointment & Aftermath

I was booked at a community centre further in the city, and the process seemed different than j.w’s experience at Walmart. He was in and out within 20 mins and didn’t have to change his mask, and he didn’t see any extra sanitary cleaning they did between people. In contrast, at the community centre, a greeter asked initial COVID screening questions, and when I passed, they asked me to change into a new disposable mask that they passed me with a pair of tongs. Then, at the second station, they asked further questions and asked you to place your health card on a piece of napkin. Finally, there are about six or so stations in the gym, but there was no wait. Someone asked me for my health card again at the station, verified who I was, and then gave me the shot (it was Moderna for those wondering) – it felt like a flu shot. Then, they asked me to wait in a lone empty chair for 15 mins to monitor myself for any unusual symptoms before checking myself out at the last station, where they also asked for my health card one last time and booked my second appointment on the spot (almost 4 months out). They also wiped down all the chairs I sat in.

By the evening, my shoulders and arm felt sore and felt stiff the day after. Some Tylenol and sore muscles rub helped, but I couldn’t sleep on that side for two nights, and it looked like there was some bruising at the injection site (which sometimes happens when I get blood tests) otherwise fine. J.w had “brain fog,” which impacted his ability to multi-task, a headache, some vivid dreams (I had them, but they’re normal for me), and felt tired the day after, so he took a 3-hour nap.

Now, we wait and see[3]I heard the symptoms for the second shot are worse for Moderna than AstraZeneca. Why did I decide to take the vaccine and willing to sign myself up for AstraZeneca? I know that like all decisions that could impact health longer-term (including choosing to send my children back to school in the Fall), but after weighing the risks of side effects and knowing that a vaccine isn’t 100% virus-proof, I sent this to a friend when asked about whether I can trust AZ (or the vaccines in general):

Yes, I have read about the potential side effects and accept the risks. I have concluded that:

  • Similar or worse side effects have happened if you get COVID
  • I do interact with people outside my household fairly regularly, so it’s better to protect them and myself
  • I’m doing my part to keep everyone safer [potentially reducing the risk of severe symptoms including hospitalization and death] and leaving the rest up to God. He is in control and knows best, and we can only make decisions based on what we know [now].
  • We don’t know if there are any long-term effects of other vaccines either [when speaking of AZ vs Moderna/Pfizer].

As with all new vaccines/medical advancements, there are risks with the unknown (particularly if it could impact personal health), but my help and hope is in the LORD, Maker of heaven and earth; I may not know what tomorrow brings, but God does, for which I’m grateful.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth. –
Psalm 121:1-2

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