Rolling Up My Sleeves: My experience receiving my COVID-19 vaccine

THIS BLOG POST IS PART OF A SERIES DEDICATED TO HIGHLIGHTING MAGUIRE CENTER STUDENT STAFF MEMBER RYLEE BAILEY’S PERSONAL EXPERIENCES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. 

Everything in this world seems to come full circle. During the 16th century, a young couple from Stratford-upon-Avon, England, lost two of their children to the bubonic plague. After their loss, they locked themselves inside to protect their 3-month-old son – William Shakespeare. The legendary playwright’s life was shaped by the plague just as ours have now been forever transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I say this story comes full circle because the bard was the second person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials in Britain. They’re really prioritizing the elderly right? This guy is 456 years old! Just kidding… but an 81-year-old named William Shakespeare actually was the second person to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in Britain on December 8, 2020. Make no mistake though, this modern-day Shakespeare’s vaccine moment was not a comedy of errors.1 It actually helped prove that vaccine fears are much ado about nothing,2 and I couldn’t wait to get mine.

On February 2, 2021, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation North Texas/Oklahoma Chapter shared a Facebook post notifying its followers that UT Southwestern has opened up COVID-19 vaccinations for people over the age of 16 with Type 1 Diabetes. This is big news as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently categorizes Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes differently in terms of risk for severe illness from COVID-19, with people with type 2 diabetes considered “at increased risk for severe illness” and those with type 1 diabetes categorized as “might be at increased risk.”3 After seeing this opportunity, I immediately registered to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with UT Southwestern.

JDRF North Texas/Oklahoma Chapter Outreach Manager Tanya Conovaloff receiving her COVID-19 vaccine.
Maguire Ethics Center Director Dr. Rita Kirk after receiving her COVID-19 vaccine.

This decision came easy to me. To be vaccinated, or not to be vaccinated was never the question4.I believe in science and have read many news and scholarly articles5 about how the vaccine’s efficacy and how it works. Additionally, I have seen many of my mentors whom I would trust my life with including Maguire Center Director Dr. Rita Kirk and JDRF North Texas/Oklahoma Chapter Outreach Manager and Type 1 Diabetic herself Tanya Conovaloff, receive the vaccine. I also consulted with my parents who urged me to take advantage of this opportunity.

I originally booked my appointment for Thursday, February 11, but Mother Nature decided to unleash her wrath upon Texas with ice. As a native Texan, I am not accustomed to driving on ice, but I really considered it this time not knowing if I would have the opportunity to reschedule. Fortunately, after talking to UT Southwestern, I was able to reschedule my vaccination appointment for Saturday, February 13.

I decided to go see my parents in Crandall, Texas, the Friday before appointment, but little did I know, the ice on the roads would get worse. I was scheduled to receive my vaccine at Redbird Mall in South Dallas at 10:30 that Saturday morning. I arrived at the location after having my first experience with the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) in my car due to the ice in the road which about gave me a heart attack and walked inside.

Me in my car after receiving my COVID-19 vaccine.

Once inside, I was welcomed by a healthcare team donned in personal protective equipment. After receiving my CDC vaccination card, having my temperature checked, and ushered through a slew of risk assessment questions including if I had a history of allergy or anaphylaxis, any recent vaccinations, and any chance of pregnancy. After confirming my birthday, the nurse administering my vaccine told me I would be receiving the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine and asked if I was nervous because I looked tense. I then proceeded to explain how as a Type 1 Diabetic, I am used to being the one in control of the needle rather than someone else. She then assured me that all would be okay. I felt just a slight pinch as the needle when into the muscle of my right arm, just like it feels to receive my annual flu vaccine (although, this felt quite more momentous). After receiving the vaccine, I sat in a waiting room for 15 minutes while being monitored for any adverse reactions. I then was told that I would receive an email in a few days that will allow me to schedule my second dose 21 days later.

Receiving the vaccine caused a flood of emotions to rush through my body. I felt relieved, optimistic, and gracious to receive the vaccine. Aside from a sore arm and a little drowsiness the next two days, I felt great. Besides living with Type 1 Diabetes for almost 14 years, I am a perfectly healthy 21-year-old college student, so I am beyond lucky and blessed to receive the vaccine. Additionally, I am thankful for the work UT Southwestern and the JDRF North Texas/ Oklahoma Chapter has done advocating for the protection of Type 1 Diabetics. With that being said, I do have hope that we will all soon be vaccinated, and I encouraged anyone and everyone who has the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to do so. Perhaps soon enough we will come to end of our winter discontent.6

It is time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, and you can do so by wearing a mask, washing your hands, and getting a vaccine when you are eligible. Are you anxious about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine? Below are some great resources that you can take a look at to learn more about how it works and what you can do to get registered.

About the Vaccine. UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2021, February 15). https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/covid-19/about-virus-and-testing/.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, February 3). Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html.

Texas Department of State Health Services. (2021, February 18). COVID-19 Vaccine Information. Texas Department of State Health Services. https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/immunize/vaccine/.

World Health Organization. (2021). COVID-19 vaccines. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/covid-19-vaccines.

References:

1. Shakespeare, W., Henning, S., Baldwin, T., & Smith, J. (2009). The comedy of errors / edited by Standish Henning; incorporating the work of Thomas Whitfield Baldwin and John Hazel Smith. Modern Language Association of America.

2. Shakespeare, W., Mares, F., & Williams, T. (2018). Much ado about nothing / [William Shakespeare]; with an introduction updated by Travis D. Williams, University of Rhode Island; edited by F.H. Mares. (Third edition.). Cambridge University Press.

3. Dooling K, Marin M, Wallace M, et al. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Updated Interim Recommendation for Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, December 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021; 69:1657-1660. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm695152e2external icon.

4. Shakespeare, W., Bate, J., & Rasmussen, E. (2008). Hamlet / William Shakespeare. ([New ed.] / edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen; introduced by Jonathan Bate.). Macmillan.

5. Baden, Lindsey R., et al. “Efficacy and Safety of the MRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 384, no. 5, 4 Feb. 2021, pp. 403–416., doi:10.1056/nejmoa2035389.

6. Shakespeare, W., & Cartelli, T. (2009). Richard III: authoritative text, contexts, criticism / William Shakespeare ; edited by Thomas Cartelli. (1st ed.). W.W. Norton & Co.

 

One Comment Add yours

  1. Tanya Conovaloff says:

    Great article! So happy you were able to get the vaccine and that you are spreading the word! 🙂

    If any other readers live with type 1 diabetes and would like to be added to my outreach newsletter with updates on things like this, just let me know! TConovaloff@jdrf.org

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