Morning Sentinel columnist Amy Calder receives the first of her two COVID-19 shots March 6 at the Northern Light Inland Hospital clinic at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. Suzanne Mosher, a registered nurse who retired from Inland but still has her license, returned to help vaccinate people at clinics. Photo by Sara Barry

It’s a big deal, getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Not in terms of the process itself, but in terms of what it does to your psyche.

I got my first shot March 6 at the Northern Light Inland Hospital clinic at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield.

It’s no exaggeration to say that since then, I’ve been walking on air.

I feel fortunate, grateful, relieved.

I guess I didn’t realize just how much angst I had carried around inside me prior to getting vaccinated.

Like many, I had watched and waited for the day I’d be eligible and had been scouring websites for possible appointments. When eligibility opened up for people 60-plus, I pushed harder.

Then a friend texted to say he got an appointment for March 6 at KVCC, so I immediately hopped on the Inland website and, much to my surprise, landed one, too. I notified a few family members and friends who also scored slots for that day. We are all scheduled for our second dose April 3.

In the days leading up to vaccination day, I found myself feeling anxious, not about the shot itself, but about all the things that could go wrong before then: What if I get in an accident on the way to the clinic, what if they run out of vaccine, what if, what if …?

It was as if Christmas was coming and there was no way I was going to miss it.

Fortuitously, a few days before my appointment, I had the privilege of touring the KVCC clinic, as I was asked to write a news story about the fact that it had expanded and could take about 1,000 people on certain days. After the tour with hospital officials, I felt upbeat about what lay ahead.

The clinic March 6, which I later learned vaccinated 1,024 adults, was well-organized, with people directing you to wherever you needed to be from the time you entered campus to the time you left.

My appointment was late in the day at 3:30 p.m. I walked in, was given a hospital-grade mask to place over the other two I was wearing, got my temperature taken and was asked a few questions. There was no waiting. I walked a short distance to a table where someone took my name and checked it against the record.

The setup was in a space large enough for social distancing, but not so large as to be intimidating or make one feel like a number. I walked to another station where a woman gave me my vaccination card and then was directed to a hallway where I was led into one of three classrooms in which a couple of people were being vaccinated.

Everyone, every step of the way, was kind, attentive and helpful.

A pleasant, registered nurse named Suzanne Mosher greeted me. She is retired, but with her license still active, she opted to help out with the clinics. It was my lucky day. I was so excited to be getting the shot that I barely noticed the little pin prick. I thanked Suzanne and told her I was very grateful.

Then I was guided to a waiting area where we vaccine recipients were observed for possible side effects. People who didn’t know each other chatted, and health care professionals checked on us. The atmosphere was, well, joyful.

“It replenishes your soul to see so many people happy,” Rick Barry, a registered nurse in charge of the clinic, told me.

Barry, Inland’s vice president of nursing and patient care services, was one of several professionals walking around, greeting people and answering questions or addressing concerns. Inland President Terri Vieira and communications and marketing director Sara Barry, wife of Rick, also were on hand.

It was a comforting, affirming and, from my perspective, safe experience.

As I waited to be released, an acquaintance named Patti sat near me and we compared notes. She said she had been euphoric the last few days, knowing she would finally be vaccinated. I couldn’t have described the feeling better.

It was like being given the gift of hope.

Oh, did I mention if I had any side effects from the vaccination?

Just a slight soreness at the injection site, and that lasted only a day.

Hands down, the best sore arm I’ve ever had.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

 


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