COVID-19 vaccines made available on campus

One staffer’s journey to get vaccinated brings her back to school.


Brianna Petrus

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine was administered to students and family members16 years and older on May 12.

Since eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine expanded in March, individuals flooded appointment sites so they could go back to some sort of normalcy. However, actually getting to a vaccine site to get vaccinated proved more difficult.  Even after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine got put on pause for a week to investigate an incident of patient blood clots, people are still booking appointments every other hour, which can complicate finding the right vaccination site. There might be students wary of the vaccination process or don’t know how or where to book an appointment to get the vaccine they want. Here’s my journey to becoming 100 percent vaccinated. 

Navigating appointment options

The first step, or shall I say hurdle, that I had to cross on my vaccine journey was to find a place and time to get vaccinated. Publix, CVS, Walgreens and even local parks like Bamford and Tree Tops were administering the vaccine. However, what I didn’t anticipate was how quickly appointment time slots fill up. I had a time slot at Bamford and was ready to submit everything, left my computer for 5 minutes, and I came back to my computer screen saying that the time slot wasn’t available anymore. I felt like I was in the Hunger Games trying to get the last gift box. 

Health Department comes to school

Just when I thought booking an appointment would be virtually impossible, the school announced that on May 12 the county health department would be offering the Pfizer vaccine for students ages 16 and older. Minors needed to have a parent or guardian with them at the time of vaccination and individuals 18 and older were free to come alone. All students needed to have identification with them. Looking at this opportunity as the holy grail, I quickly confirmed with my parents, made sure I was available that day, and counted down the days to the fated first dose. 

Not throwing away my shot

After almost 2 weeks of waiting, the circled date of May 12 finally arrived. Classes went on as usual with the occasional anxiety of the pending first shot, but I knew this emotion was normal for getting a shot the first time. About 10 minutes before my appointment, I started getting ready by grabbing my learner’s permit and by my own decision, swallowed two Motrins to counter the discomfort that I might be feeling after getting injected. When I arrived at school, a health department official directed me to the auditorium and asked me to take out my ID so that I can fill out paperwork and a consent form. After filling out the 2-page paperwork, I was directed inside the auditorium where along the side of the stage they had tables set up with healthcare workers operating at each one, and a chair at the side of the table for students to sit. Sitting in an empty chair at one of the tables, the two healthcare workers asked me for my ID and a set of questions like ‘have I been sick in the last 14 days’ and ‘have I been in close contact with someone who has or had COVID-19’. 

After I finished answering their questions, one of the healthcare workers picked up a long syringe and I knew I was in my last moments of being a 0 out of 2 vaccinated individual. Standing up from her seat, I informed her of wanting the shot in my right shoulder (since I’m left-handed and my arm might be sore for a couple of days); she used an alcohol swab on a small area, told me to stay still and injected the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 


The whole process from the injection to getting the band-aid on my shoulder probably took 5-10 seconds maximum. Giving me some free masks and my vaccination card, they told me I had to stay in the observation area for 15 minutes to see if I had any allergic reaction. Arriving at the observation area, the nurses told me what to do for my second shot and that I can get it either four days before or after the day of my second shot. Within those 15 minutes, I experienced a bit of shortness of breath and a bit of chest pain but with some water I felt fine. Thanking the nurses after my 15 minutes of observation was over, I strolled out of the auditorium feeling liberated after being half vaccinated. On my way home, I read the information pamphlet they gave us about the Pfizer vaccine to know what to expect in the next coming days like a sore arm, headache, or chills. 

Waking up the next morning with only a sore arm, I felt relieved that I still felt well enough to go to school, although I’ll still be watching my condition over the next few days. After a week of self-observation, the only side effect I had was a sore arm which made me feel very thankful. I look forward to getting my second dose at Tree Tops park and being fully vaccinated a couple of days before my June 8 graduation. 

The Health department will return to school on June 3 for second doses as well.