Hit Me With Your Best Shot

We have both gotten the first dose of the Moderna vaccine against Covid!

*whew!*

The kid can’t get vaccinated until the <16 safety and efficacy data comes back, but he’s still young enough that he’s at a lot less risk to begin with, and having all the adults around him vaccinated will let us all get a lot closer to “normal” life outside the home soon. (Whatever “normal” is these days.)

Smooth Scheduling (No, Really!)

After hearing horror stories from people in earlier tiers and different states, I was really expecting to have trouble setting up appointments. I figured it was going to be like trying to get tickets for Comic-Con. Or worse: like trying to get a hotel room for Comic-Con. Broken websites, or only finding appointments three weeks out, or only finding appointments on the other side of the county, or starting to schedule an appointment and having it disappear in the middle of registering. I bookmarked all the pharmacy Covid-19 pages ahead of time just in case the state or county websites crashed and burned.

Fortunately we were both in UCLA Health’s system, because they’re running a well-oiled machine.

The day before general eligibility opened up, just as I was starting to freak out about how long it would take to get appointments, UCLA Health sent out an email to their patients saying to just schedule an appointment through MyChart. We picked the nearest location (about half an hour away), she got an appointment for the first day, and I got one for a few days later.

We could have scheduled for the same time, but we wanted to stagger our shots just in case we both got knocked out by side effects. Gotta have at least one functional adult around!

Getting (the) Shot

The location we both went to is a regular medical office, not a megasite. They don’t have outdoor lines or giant waiting areas, and they don’t have separate entrances and exits, and the hallways are kind of squirrely. But they minimize bottlenecks and keep you moving quickly so you aren’t sharing airspace with anyone for longer than a couple of minutes.

  1. They screen everyone on the way in with the usual symptom questions and a temperature check.
  2. When someone’s ready at the front office, they send you in to check your ID, confirm whether you’re there for the first or second dose, hand you the information sheets and send you down the hallway.
  3. At each intersection, they have someone to direct you through the maze until you reach an exam room.
  4. One person is waiting for you in the exam room. They double check your name and which dose you’re there for, then give you the shot and the CDC-issued paper card indicating which vaccine you received and when it was.
  5. Then they send you down another hall where someone directs you to one of the chairs scattered throughout the halls to wait out the 15 minutes.
  6. Rather than try to keep track of everyone, they just ask you to set a 15-minute timer on your phone and you can leave if you’re still feeling OK at the end.
  7. They also ask if you have the MyChart app on your phone. If you do, you can sign in and there’s already a button to schedule your follow-up for the second dose. If not, or if you run into problems with the app, they’ll schedule it for you.

The whole process is fast. Each of us was in and out within half an hour. Including parking the car.

Side Effects

The shot itself was relatively painless, but we both developed sore arms after a couple of hours. More than a flu shot, less than a tetanus shot. Mine cleared up after two days, while Katie’s lasted a little longer. We also both experienced fatigue starting around the same time as the soreness. Hers was milder — she described it as more just wanting to be left alone than actually being tired — but I was wiped out for the evening and most of the next day.

A bit unpleasant, sure, but nowhere near as bad (or as long) as actually getting Covid-19!

With any luck the second dose will go as smoothly.

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