GTPulse: Vaccinate me, baby
More and more I’m seeing my social media feeds fill up with smiling selfies of friends holding up their ‘I Got My Covid-19 Vaccine’ stickers. I couldn’t be happier as vaccines becoming more accessible and common. However, vaccination felt far from common for me. A year has gone by since my grandfather passed from Covid-19 and it’s been surreal, to say the least. Getting my first vaccine dose has given me closure that I didn’t know I was looking for. The beginning of the end is here and it’s been a long ride for each of us.
I want to acknowledge that we’ve all endured and persevered through a lot. Everyone’s family and mental health have been impacted in some way over the year. It wasn’t easy to deal with. Increasingly bleak news and political divides among friends and family paired with isolation was maddening. In that newsletter I wrote after my grandfather passed, I asked people if they would be proud of who they were in the face of a pandemic. A year later I know that I am, and so many of you should be too.
GTPulse, from the beginning, has been about stories that everyone could like. Nothing harsh with sharp edges. Just soft, warm, easy stories. I haven’t had an easier time finding those kinds of stories than during those first few months of the pandemic. Northern Michiganders rallied around each other in the most powerful of ways. I witnessed makeshift food banks being made, folks donating propane, meal drop-offs, grocery shopping for elders in the community, restaurant employee relief funds, artist relief funds, and countless other smaller moments of grace among chaos. Being able to share some of these stories in such a tough time was an honor and a privilege.
I’m willing to admit that I typically try to stay away from medicine. I skip over the flu shot most years and ride out the occasional bout of strep throat sans antibiotics. Rub dirt in a cut, you get it. But when my turn came to sign up to get vaccinated I didn’t hesitate for a moment.
My first dose was last Thursday and on the morning of my appointment, I was nervous. I scheduled my appointment through the Grand Traverse County Health Department COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic. They’re using Hagerty Center as an off-site vaccination clinic, and for some reason, I couldn’t stop obsessing over trivial things like what I was going to wear or if I should pick up a Pepsi on the way. I couldn’t believe that it was real and finally happening.
The staff at the vaccine clinic did all of the thinking for me once I walked in. One friendly masked face directed me to another until I ended up in front of my nurse, Mary. She was kind and thorough with all of the information she gave me about the vaccine. I took comfort in her name as a small sign from my Irish Catholic grandfather. After a quick stick in my arm, her eyes crinkled under her mask as she said, “Congratulations.” I felt tears pinprick the back of my eyes.
I sat in the waiting room afterward, a post-vaccination protocol for everyone. My jitters were gone and I felt a circle close. I had done what I was supposed to for myself, my family, my community, and for all of those who didn’t make it to see the vaccine. I had decided on a teal, short sleeve sweater and jeans (jeans!) for my outfit. I looked around at all of my freshly vaccinated peers and wondered if they had any pre-vaccine jitters. I wondered too, what kind of circles they were closing.
In June, my family will all get together to memorialize my grandfather. By then we’ll all be fully vaccinated and I’ll be able to see some flashes of my grandfather through their embraces, laughs, smiles, and eyes. I hope that you too get the catharsis you’re looking for after this past year. There are people from times past and the future who have never and will never live through a pandemic. We have. And for anyone wondering how I feel post-dose, I feel fine. I feel great, actually.
To sign up for your vaccine in Grand Traverse visit https://gtcountycovid19.com/vaccine/ and click Save Your Spot.
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