Contributing author, Rosemary Alpert.
It has been almost a year since our lives began to be touched by a mysterious virus, one we now know all too well. We watched the evening news: images of people in other countries wearing masks, something so unfamiliar to our “norm” here in the States.
Then, we were all affected, in one way or another. A challenging time—filled with a plethora of emotions and stories.
One year later, we are in the midst of mass vaccinations across the country, offering a glimmer of light for our communities. But we’re also encountering new challenges, as the supply of vaccinations is slow and unpredictable. The monumental need for vaccinations can be frustrating: trying to figure out when, where and how to receive the vaccination is not easy.
Despite these challenges and frustrations, our goal continues to be to get as many people vaccinated as possible. With the supply we received last week, Public Health was able to vaccinate more than 1,100 community members at the Skagit County Fairground Vaccination Site. Community members, mostly 65 and older, received their first vaccination dose between Tuesday and Saturday.
With a heart full of joy, I greeted each community member after they had received their first dose. In the Observation Room, I spoke with each person as they sat for their 15-minute monitoring period.
Clicking off a fuchsia-colored counter is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had; happily greeting and congratulating each person, feeling the smiles hidden beneath our masks, and seeing the welcomed relief and glimmers of sparkling light shining from their eyes. Once again, each person has a story and reasons why they received their vaccination.
I asked a few community members how they felt and if they’d like to share a thought while sitting in the Observation Space.
Here are some of the responses:
“Feels like I won the lottery!”
“It was frustrating at first, trying to get an appointment. Once we got through, everything has been seamless.”
“Everyone has been so helpful; you’re all so organized.”
“I feel so relieved.”
“I’m grateful and concerned for the communities who don’t have access to technology.”
Glimmers of light are found all around our community: in the eyes of each person who is grateful to receive their vaccination, neighbors checking in on one another, a caretaker or support person bringing an elder to receive the vaccine. Creative community collaboration—each of us doing the best we can—making sure we move forward and stay healthy.
When you come for your first vaccination, here is a reminder:
- Bring a form of ID
- Dress appropriately to receive your vaccine (ex: t-shirt or button up)
- Bring a coat or blanket, since we keep the doors open for ventilation
- Consider bringing a book, crossword puzzle, knitting–whatever you’d like as you sit for 15 minutes post-vaccination
We have a safe and welcoming space available for our guests, with local artwork on the walls, calming music and great company. I look forward to greeting you on vaccination day and clicking off the counter!
The vaccination process is an enormous collaborative community endeavor. Information is constantly being updated. For the most updated information in both English and Spanish, please visit the Skagit County Public Health website: www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine. Please share this information with your friends, especially those who do not have easy access to a computer.