Photographed by David White
As of April 15th, 2021, all California residents above the age of 16 are eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccination, meaning that all M-A students who are able should be preparing to receive their first shot. 44.1% of Californians have at least received their first dose of one of the two vaccines, and it has become pretty simple to join this pack.
The first step in getting a COVID-19 vaccine is making an appointment. While there was some appointment scarcity throughout the first few months of distribution, appointments have become readily available in the Bay Area. Signing up for an appointment is relatively easy and not very time consuming, since you can do so online or with a healthcare provider. You can find an appointment at CVS, Vaccine Finder, My Turn CA, Ravenswood Family Health Network, and Stanford Children’s Hospital, which is explicitly for 16 and 17 year-olds.
In the United States, all COVID-19 vaccinations are free, don’t require health insurance to make an appointment, and are available to everyone regardless of legal status. While vaccine administers can bill the insurance company for your vaccination, they can’t charge the individual for the shot. If you aren’t insured, follow these steps before making your appointment.
In terms of what to expect at your vaccination appointment, it is typically recommended that you bring a mask, photo ID (such as a license, passport, student ID, etc,) your health insurance card, and a parent if you are below the age of 18 or believe that you will have an adverse reaction. I made my appointment through the Stanford Children’s Hospital, which I recommend to anyone ages 16-17. According to the nurse who administered my shot, Nanette Lerma, “the Stanford Children’s Hospital has a goal of vaccinating 500 kids a day, but have consistently been vaccinating 140 a day, leaving many appointment slots available.”
When I arrived, I was asked to confirm whether I had an appointment and my name, after which a health care worker gave me a handily already-filled-out vaccine card. I then waited in a relatively short line to get my vaccine, which was administered to me in about two minutes and with minimal pain. I was sent further up the line to make my next appointment, which required my health insurance and vaccine card. I waited 15 minutes before leaving to see if I had an adverse reaction to the shot, such as nausea, chills, or dizziness, and was free to leave after that time was up. Overall, the staff was very helpful, I stayed in my car the entire time, and I am very proud to have joined the Pfizer supremacy!
Reactions to the vaccine are normal and vary for everyone who receives the shot. While I experienced some tiredness and nausea after my first shot, many don’t have any reaction at all. For example, junior Camellia Parvin, who has received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, said, “My arm just feels a little sore when I touch or move it, but otherwise I haven’t gotten any other symptoms. It was nothing too bad to handle.”
While the FDA can’t mandate the vaccine as a requirement, it is highly recommended that you get your COVID-19 vaccination. The three vaccines have been proven to be effective and safe and are 100% likely to prevent severe symptoms and death, which can be beneficial to you and the safety of your community.