By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
I was able to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot last week. I am in the 60-plus age group, so based on the flyers being put out by the Cherokee Indian Hospital and EBCI Public Health and Human Services flyers, I called in to the hospital, located my primary care team, and scheduled my appointment for the shot. The process was easy and I quickly was given an appointment for the following week, which was last week.
When my appointment time arrived, I went to the Cherokee Indian Hospital. At the Primary Care entrance, there is a desk set up to prescreen for entrance into the building. I got my temperature taken and answered questions about how I was feeling and about my contact status with potentially COVID-positive people. Once I answered those questions and was found to be okay to proceed, I was directed to the area to preregister to go into the waiting area for the next available station to administer the shot. I waited a few minutes in that lobby and then was quickly directed to a pre-shot staging area.
The few minutes I waited there, I chatted with other Cherokee elders about the things going on in our lives, mostly how COVID had impacted our lives and how we wished all of this to be over.
The mood was extremely light. The staff of the hospital was very professional and compassionate. I watched as they gave those elders who had difficulty moving personal assistance to get from one place to another, patiently answering their questions, and mine.
While I waited, an elder who was coming out from receiving his shot, stopped, looked at me with a pained look on his face and said, “Man, that shot really hurts!” Immediately a big grin came to his face, letting me know that he was joking about his experience. A hospital worker chided him, jokingly saying “Now, don’t be starting anything in here.” We all had a good laugh in the waiting room and shortly thereafter, I was called to the table where they would be administering the shot.
The young lady who gave me the shot was very nice and very professional. She absolutely knew what she was doing. She immediately complemented my mask (I was wearing my gifted canned Spam mask) and we chatted about other stuff. I have to admit, when she laid the needle in front of me to prepare my arm for the shot, it surely looked bigger than the one they use for the flu shot, but now I chalk that up to anticipation. She let me know that I would feel a sting, and I did, but no worse than the flu shot. In a second, it was over and done.
After the shot, she led me to a second room and to a new registration table. There, the young lady noted the time my shot was administered and updated a card with my shot information on it with the type of drug administered, the date of the first shot, and my appointment time for my second shot. She had me take a seat to wait fifteen minutes in case there was any allergic reaction to the shot. There were several people in the room waiting for the time to expire. After the time was up, she called my name and told me I was free to go. And then I went on my way to resume my day. To date, a little soreness at the injection site has been my only side effect.
During the entire experience, everyone remained masked. The hospital had done a good job of preparing all waiting areas for social distancing. The process for queuing individuals for the shot administration was orderly and pleasant. My appointment was at 10:10 a.m. and I was actually given the shot at 10 a.m.
I have heard all the comments about those who get the shot and following the COVID mitigation protocols being “sheep”. It is a wonderful perk of my job to hear all sides of issues, even those I don’t agree with. Sadly, some still think that the virus is a concocted political fallacy. They ignore or dispute the scientific and medical evidence and even doubt the reports of sicknesses and deaths in our own community. With the mounting evidence of the reality of COVID, I am not sure what it will take for those folks to change their minds.
For me, the decision to get the shot was easy. I am a very engaged person. I like working and engaging with co-workers as many of my co-workers are also friends. I belong to several non-profit and religious organizations and I enjoy the interactions I have with my board members and organization members. And, most of all, I have family and, particularly, my wife. I have had to slow or eliminate personal contact with many who I used to routinely interact with. And, I have a fair amount of certainty that if I had maintained the same level of personal contact with other people that I had pre-COVID, that my actions could have made them very sick, or die.
My wife and I have been blessed to, so far, not have contracted COVID. The vaccine is the hope that we might avoid it until it is under control.
I used to hear a little parable from preachers and others when I was younger about the way God sometimes provides for us when we ask for his help. It went like this…A man was in his home when it was announced that a terrible storm was going to cause a flood that would engulf his home and authorities said that it was time to evacuate. The winds began to howl, and the rain began to pour. The rescue squad came to his home in a truck and told the man they were there to evacuate him and take him to safety. The man told them that he was trusting in God to save him and that he didn’t need to go with them. The truck left and the waters continued to rise. It flooded the first floor, so the man moved up to the second. Then, a rescue boat came to the man’s house and told him that they were there to take him to safety. The man once again refused to accept the help, saying that he was trusting in God for his safety. The rescue boat left, and the water kept rising. Eventually, the man had to stand on the roof of his house to evade the water. A rescue helicopter hovered over his house, telling the man that they were there to take him to safety. The man refused, again saying that he would wait on God to save him. As the helicopter flew away, the man was submerged in the water and drowned. When he got to heaven, he went sadly to God and said “I am disappointed in you God, I trusted in you to safe me from the flood and you didn’t save me.” God replied, “I sent you a truck, boat, and helicopter, and you refused all of my attempts to save you.”
Everyone must make the decision for themselves. No one is going to force you to get the vaccine. But, all of us want to get back to some semblance of normalcy and the vaccine is a possible way to get there. It potentially can take us to a safe place where we can recover from the devastation that the virus has brought to our community. I don’t know if God sent the vaccines to save us, but I am willing to believe that taking the shot is the best way I may show compassion and love for my wife, family members, friends and the community. And it may just save me from the pain and possible death of having full-blown COVID. So, I got shot. And I hope that you will too.