Ten minutes after getting the, I climbed behind the wheel of my truck exterior of Holy Cross Hospital in Taos, New Mexico, and felt a robust bodily urge to curve up within the seat and take a nap. I had plans to spend my afternoon on a mountain bike within the badlands north of Santa Fe. It was New Yr’s Eve, and I used to be simply shy of my objective of 1,000 whole miles biking for the yr.
As an alternative, I spent the ultimate hours of a historic and horrendous yr sitting on my sofa, groggily feeling as grateful for know-how and tireless scientists and researchers as I ever have.
The dose circulating in my bloodstream was developed in report time utilizing model new applied sciences. Previous vaccines have taken a number of years to get to the general public, with the mumps vaccine holding the earlier report at 4 years.
COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna — the one two at the moment licensed for emergency use within the US — use synthetic messenger RNA, or mRNA. This molecule comprises a little bit of the genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and stimulates the immune system to construct up its defenses in opposition to the virus with out really being uncovered to it.
I are inclined to soften round needles, however the COVID-19 vaccine injection delivered the least ache and anxiousness I’ve ever skilled from the imply finish of a syringe. I might simply desire getting caught once more with one crammed withover stepping on a wayward Lego any day.
Moved to the entrance of the vaccine line
The chance to get the vaccine so early got here as a shock.
The Pfizer vaccine was solely licensed on Dec. 11, with the Moderna vaccine authorized per week later. On Dec. 29, I registered to get the shot on a New Mexico Division of Well being web site. Primarily based on my age (41) and danger elements (none), it appeared I might anticipate to attend a number of months earlier than it might be my flip to get a shot within the arm.
The next day, unrelated to my registration, I obtained a bunch message from the chief of the local search and rescue group I volunteer with. Seems educated and mission-ready members of our group have been eligible to obtain the vaccine straight away together with different first responders.
The truth is I’m at relatively low risk of coming in contact with the virus. My wife and I work from home in a rural area, and our daughter hasn’t seen the inside of a classroom since March.
But every few months or so, I spend a day (or a very long night) on a mission working with other search and rescue personnel and first responders to find someone lost in the millions of acres of forest, mountains, desert and river canyon that draw countless skiers, rafters, bikers and hikers here year-round.
Normally, I’ll also spend a few days a month training in the field, practicing avalanche rescue or working with search dogs, among numerous other skills. I pass a couple more evenings each month in classroom sessions. But all that in-person training has been suspended since March to comply with state emergency health orders.
The mission call-outs haven’t stopped, however. We’ve just added masks and hand sanitizer to our mission packs, among other new precautions.
So when some members of our team said it didn’t quite seem right for us to receive the vaccine so early — ahead of even the elderly and behind only frontline health care workers — I agreed. We were encouraged to reconsider by our team leader.
The hope is we may begin to resume in-person training as soon as February and be able to respond to missions with that much more confidence in our skills and, hopefully, in our immunity to COVID-19.
Just another stick in the arm
Getting the shot was a pretty routine and literally painless process considering the months of anticipation for the big moment. Our team was invited to come to a building at the hospital set up for vaccinations during a one-hour window. We entered through tents in the parking lot on a crisp winter morning, and we waited for our temperatures to be taken and for a little paperwork to be completed.
Anyone without a sufficient mask (no bandanas here) was given a fresh one wrapped in plastic. After a little more processing and paperwork, we each got a stick in the arm, a Band-Aid and a vaccination card with instructions to return in three weeks for a second dose.
After getting stuck I was led to another room supervised by a traveling nurse to wait for about five minutes just in case of a sudden allergic reaction. We were also told to take it easy on the way home as such reactions usually crop up within about an hour. My teammates thanked the nurse for her work. She shared some anecdotes from the past year. Most were positive patient experiences, but there was also the story of the man at an Oklahoma gas station who berated her for pumping gas while wearing scrubs for fear she might contaminate the pump.
We all gave thanks for the coming New Year, and the nurse handed me another fresh mask wrapped in plastic and instructed me to continue to wear one and to practice social distancing.
I also received instructions for downloading a CDC smartphone app to track and report any side effects (or lack thereof) over the next few days.
In the first four days, I reported no side effects save for a little soreness around the injection spot in the first 24 hours. On day five, a headache and wave of nausea kept me in bed all morning, but I can’t be sure that was tied to the vaccine. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was dehydration from a hike the previous evening.
The bottom line is that after my first dose, I feel fine, and now I have 12 fresh months to log 1,000 miles on my bike.
I’ll report back again after my second dose later this month. Meanwhile, I’m adding a new profession to my gratitude list. Along with health care and essential workers and all the others that have kept us going, I now also think about the dedicated folks who spend countless hours in labs around the world. I imagine each one of those hours has brought us days closer to a return to normal life.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.