I got my second COVID vaccine shot yesterday, and I came home with a mixed bag of feelings – some that I expected, and a few I didn’t.

One feeling I anticipated – and experienced – was a sense of both relief and protection. Not entirely, since I know there’s a span of a few weeks before immunity is at full strength. Also, there are still a lot of unknowns with regard to how long it lasts, how effective it is against newly emerging variants, and exactly what it will do – such as reducing the odds of getting the disease in the first place, or reducing the severity of symptoms in people who get it anyway. And then there’s the matter of herd immunity, which it’s still going to take a while before we reach.

So I don’t feel like Superman, with the vaccine making me invulnerable to COVID. More like Batman, with all the tools and gadgets he has for fighting the bad guys. The vaccine is one more tool I now have, along with the mask – though it’s nothing like Batman’s – that I’ll continue to wear whenever I go out, at least for the immediate future.

One feeling I had that caught me off guard was a sense of guilt. That may be too strong a word. “Uneasy” or “unsettling” might be better descriptions of how I felt after getting the vaccine, since there are people in a more vulnerable position than I am, or who are more in need of the vaccine because of their age, health, or job.

Many of them have already been vaccinated, I know, but many are still waiting – and for any number of reasons, including a limited supply of vaccine, or their difficulty in getting to a distribution site. And the winter storms that paralyzed much of the country made the situation that much worse.

I was surprised over feeling guilty about getting the vaccine, since my age and several underlying health issues  put me in the danger zone. I jumped at the chance to sign up for the vaccine as soon as it was allowed, but I didn’t jump the line or “cut in” ahead of people who were eligible before I was.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at my reactions, though. Ever since we first heard about it, let alone started experiencing it, the pandemic has changed practically everything about the way we live, work, and think. It has shifted our priorities, and has forced us to reevaluate – or rediscover – what is important in our lives, and what is not.

So I’ll try to stop being surprised when unusual or unexpected thoughts and feelings come up in relation to any aspect of COVID. I’ll try to celebrate every positive step – such as getting the vaccine – along this rocky road we’ve been on for too long. And most of all, I’ll try to keep focusing on how wonderful it’s going to be when it’s safe for all of us to be with each other again.

February 20, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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