Getting the COVID Vaccine

My lab works with tuberculosis, which requires BioSafety Level 3 (BSL-3) containment. You know what else needs BSL-3 containment? COVID-19!

BSL-3 lab spaces have a lot of specialized safety features that make them expensive to construct. To save money different labs at UC Davis often share the same BSL-3 space and just schedule their time in that lab space to not get in each other’s way.

Because of that, when researchers started working on COVID-19 at UC Davis they needed a place to do it. My boss’s space was volunteered, so now another lab researching COVID works in the same space as us.

Besides the safety features, the BSL-3 also requires biohazard suits and respirators. Additionally anyone working in the room within 24 hours of COVID being used in the room has to do temperature checks for two weeks afterwards. Our safety protocols have been successful and no one working in the space has contracted COVID-19.

But working in that space puts our lab into a high risk factor, just like healthcare workers. As such, I got contacted by my HR supervisor at UC Davis Health that I’d been approved for being one of the first people to get one of the COVID vaccines.

So here’s what that was like!

I scheduled an appointment for 8:30am on the first day of distribution. I got there at 8:25, checked in, and promptly waited for an hour in line.

While waiting I got to read the packet about the minimal danger of the vaccine (tiny chance of an allergic reaction), play some mobile games, and check out the prizes to pick from when you leave.

The table was delicately placed in the middle of the line so no one could get anything while socially distancing.

After an hour I was called into the emptied out classroom to wait on a chair instead of on my feet.

After another 15 minutes I got to go up to table 5 for my shot.

The shot was normal as far as vaccinations go. The nurse did the usual verification of identity, sterilized my shoulder, and then gave me the shot. After that I got a vaccination card that I have to bring back to my second shot four weeks after the first one. (Four weeks for the Moderna vaccine, three for Pfizer). At the end I had to wait for fifteen minutes to make sure I didn’t have a severe allergic reaction before I was cleared to leave the building.

The recovery from the shot was normal for shots. My shoulder hurt for three days, but there wasn’t any bruising or color change.

So that’s what getting the COVID-19 vaccine from a vaccination clinic is like. The long wait was due to having only three nurses instead of four as had originally been planned. With a fourth nurse my wait time probably would’ve been around thirty minutes total instead of an hour and fifteen.

Definitely worth it! I’d suggest that everyone get the vaccine when it becomes available to you. An hour or two of your time is worth getting the world back to the way it was in 2019.

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