You know, I wasn’t against the idea of being vaccinated for COVID-19. But I wasn’t in a hurry, either.
First off, I hate needles. Simply put, I’m scared of them because they usually hurt.
There’s some irony in this I find somewhat amusing. I mean, I’m a guy who has hopped into a boxing ring on several occasions in the past to fight someone I had never seen before.
Simply for the love of the sport, I’ve endured cracked ribs and broken noses. And I’d fight again without hesitation.
If I can do that, why is it so hard for me to get a shot? That’s exactly what I tell myself every time I go to get a shot.
So it was on Monday at State Fair Park in Yakima when I finally did it. I received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The mass vaccination site held a morning window open for those working in the media to get vaccinated. I figured at my age, 54, I probably should have done it already. And since the invite seemed easy enough and I was able to schedule it into my daily work, I went for it.
It was a smooth and painless shot. But I must admit, I did have some support through the process. Photo Editor Amanda Ray accompanied me — with a camera in her hand.
My fear at that point was that she’d capture an image of me grimacing as the needle plunged into my skin.
Amanda hopped into my car as we drove through gate 12 of the fairgrounds, across a stretch of dirt road to a checkpoint.
A young man asked my name as he searched a tablet. My name didn’t pop up because I had not preregistered. I told him I didn’t need to because of the media invite.
“It’s OK,” he said, directing me to the next checkpoint farther ahead. There, another young man clad in military garb entered my information into his tablet; I was registered on site in about two minutes.
After screening me for any health conditions, allergies to medications or current illness, he directed me to follow the lane through the fairgrounds to the actual vaccination site.
All the while Amanda was shooting photos in rapid succession, documenting an inside view of getting vaccinated.
There were a few brief stops along the way as staff slowed traffic to hand out information and to guide people to the right vaccination line.
Some, like me, were there for their first dose; others were there for their second.
Amanda and I chatted a bit about some of the trails we’re looking forward to hiking this summer now that life is somewhat beginning to return to what once was considered normal, thanks to the vaccines.
The mass vaccination site was a matrix of cones, flags and tents efficiently funneling motorists through the process, directed by staff from the Yakima Health District, FEMA, the state Department of Health and the Department of Defense.
Only a few minutes had passed, and I had reached the actual vaccination station staffed by two men clad in camouflage. I was allowed to hop out of my car to receive the shot in my right shoulder — I’m a lefty.
It happened fast. One man said: “I’m just going to clean your arm real quick.”
He made a few thorough passes with a cotton swab soaked in cleaning solution.
At that point I was telling myself, “Don’t tense up. Just relax or it’s going to hurt more.”
Then the man said “Just a pinch” as he squeezed a chunk of my flesh between his index finger and thumb, and that seemed to be it. The needle was out. He’d already given me the shot and I didn’t even feel it.
Hours later, I felt no different than before receiving the shot.