Rediscovering normal: my vaccination story


Nataly Michael

A view inside the vaccination hub at the Moscone Center in South San Francisco.

Crowded by public health orders and chronic illness, the COVID-19 vaccine could not come quick enough for my weakened immune system. This year, death kept knocking at my door and all I could do was watch people let it in.

On Mar. 15, I found out I was eligible and booked an appointment six hours into the day. Excitement surged through my body when I got a time slot in two days’ time, at Moscone Center.

But anxiety quickly replaced my excitement. I hadn’t interacted with many people during the pandemic and now I had to walk through a convention center hoping two masks and six feet of distance was enough protection.

My worries heightened when I arrived and saw lines of people all around the small building. After circling the entrance, I realized that those lines were for people hoping to get leftover doses. My fears eased.

My ID and appointment QR code were checked at two different stops before I headed for the escalators. Conveyor belts of change, they frightened me. I could not see what I had walked into.

The ever-winding queue, identification checks and white, grey and blue walls reminded me of an airport. It stinked of sterility and adrenaline.

When I got to the front of the line, I sat down amid rows of seats set six feet apart and waited for a vaccine booth to become available. The workers told me to get my arm ready and take out my ID and QR code.

My vaccine administrator turned out to be a nice gentleman, making casual conversation all morning to ease his patients’ nerves. I relaxed my muscles and felt the quick pinch of the needle.

Almost done with the first dose, I went to the observation area and waited for any side effects to arise. The joy was infectious; everyone chatted about the things they had put on hold over the year and could soon return to.

Celebratory music played as I left the building to embark on a new life. I looked forward to going to the grocery store again and reuniting with vaccinated friends and family. The wait was worth it.