Opinion: What it feels like to get the COVID-19 shot

Senior Master Sgt. Hilton Washington of the Mississippi Air National Guard, left, receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in his arm, by a fellow guard member, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Flowood, Miss. One hundred doses of the vaccine were administered to both Mississippi Air and Army National Guard service members who serve as first responders and currently assist with the administering of the COVID-19 test at Mississippi Department of Health drive through community testing sites across the state. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Senior Master Sgt. Hilton Washington of the Mississippi Air National Guard, left, receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in his arm, by a fellow guard member, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, in Flowood, Miss. One hundred doses of the vaccine were administered to both Mississippi Air and Army National Guard service members who serve as first responders and currently assist with the administering of the COVID-19 test at Mississippi Department of Health drive through community testing sites across the state. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Credit: Rogelio V. Solis

Credit: Rogelio V. Solis

Here’s what it feels like to get a COVID shot.

A miracle. It feels like a miracle, like the day I met my children, the day I graduated from medical school. It feels like walking down the aisle to meet my husband.

Nothing. It feels like nothing, like in between time. It feels like going to get the mail, waiting in line at the grocery store, being stuck in traffic. A miracle taking place in a mall, in a building that used to be a department store.

Important. It feels important. It feels like signing my name on our marriage license two days before the wedding, wondering if this is all real. It feels like checking and rechecking the spelling of my name before they printed my diploma. It feels like a deep breath before you walk into the DMV to take your driver’s test for the first time.

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Credit: contributed

Risky. It feels risky. It feels necessary but scary, like standing at the edge of a ski slope after taking a long ride to the top. It feels like getting into a small metal box to be pulled over a river in rural Peru using a rope pulley, or like the weight of a parent’s eyes as you push a needle into their sick child’s spine. It feels like choosing to show up.

Privileged, it feels privileged. It feels like dozens of teachers showing me the way forward, like years of education, like a partner who works to support us so I can continue training, like the warmth of a patient’s hand as they grasp mine to shake it, calling me “doctor”.

Relief. It feels like relief, like biting into a gumball and having it give way between your teeth. It feels like solving a math problem. It feels like a sip of tea, when the warmth floods your whole body. It feels like a hug from a sticky-fingered toddler.

On my way out the door, I ask the police officer standing watch how he feels after a day of witnessing this. He says, simply, “joy.”

For all of these reasons, I feel like crying.

Emily Pinto Taylor, M.D., is an internist and pediatrician, and a clinical fellow in geriatric medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine.

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