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Column: One vaccine closer to living life to the fullest
Shannon Casas
Shannon Casas

I got my shot this week.

I was starting to get jealous of all the folks out there living life to the fullest, fully vaccinated. I’ve been seeing more gray-haired people out at the supermarket. I’ve seen notice of events for vaccinated folks only. Some are making plans to get together with friends they haven’t seen in months.

Meanwhile, here I was patiently waiting at the back of the line, grateful to be healthy enough to be considered low-priority but feeling a little left behind and left out. 

Throughout this mess, I’ve been less cautious than some but probably more cautious than most, and now, I’ve got a date in May marked for when I’ll be considered “fully vaccinated.” 

The health experts remain cautious, saying I’ll still need to wear my mask in public and social distance. That’s second nature now, anyway.

However, the Centers for Disease Control also says I can be indoors without a mask with others who have been vaccinated. And that is great news. 

It’s also certainly worth the bit of arm soreness I experienced. The shot itself was a bit of a painful prick, but I was more focused on taking my vaccine selfie than the pain in my arm. We all know, as one on The Times team said, it doesn’t work if you don’t post the selfie afterward.

I felt fine afterward until about three hours later when I moved my arm and it felt like I’d given it an intense workout on one very specific muscle. It was sore. I tried to move it some and drink water. That evening, I’d catch myself leaning up against a doorway on that arm, which would quickly remind me that it was not happy with that idea. Sleeping that night was a struggle. If I stretched my arm back just this way, I could sleep on that side. I could sleep on the other side, too, but not for long. I tossed and turned, but by the morning the arm was no longer hurting while sitting still, just when I moved it.

And no pain, no gain, right?

Some are hesitant to get the vaccine. The science is relatively new. Then again, the virus is new, too. Personally, I prefer the risks of science and vaccines that have been tested and reviewed to the risks of a mutating virus that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.

And once I’m fully vaccinated, I can’t wait to get together with my extended family and eat and drink and leave the masks behind. We’ve all got our appointments and some first doses.

The CDC also says you can gather without masks “indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household” so long as they’re at low risk of developing a severe case.

They say you should avoid medium and large gatherings, as well as travel.

Sometimes the CDC guidelines feel a bit like a rulebook preventing any fun to be had by anyone. Just what is considered a medium gathering? And, really, looking at the low number of cases in our area, how concerned do I need to be? There were 35 confirmed cases being treated at our local health system as of Wednesday. There were literally about a hundred times more local cases earlier this year, before people started getting vaccinated.

So, when it comes to the science, that’s another data point I’m paying attention to.

There’s a lot they don’t know about how effective the vaccine is against variants, how well it keeps the disease from spreading and how long the vaccines will protect people.

I want this vaccine to be my one-way ticket to freedom. I’m trying to maintain cautious optimism rather than book a flight back to 2019, when I had never once thought about staying 6 feet away from others except for that socially agreed upon personal space rule where you don’t sit directly next to someone at the movie theater.

While we can’t jump back to normal quite that fast, I am making plans. Plans to eat out, to go to sporting events with family, to go on day trips or weekend trips. And maybe one day I can again make plans to get on an airplane, go to a concert and stop carrying hand sanitizer around.

Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a North Hall resident.