Relief and joy at receiving COVID19 vaccine

Somehow I wanted the trumpets to blare and the confetti to drop, but it was, in the end, just a shot.

To the editor:
As a hospital chaplain I was assigned to the first group on “the list,” along with everyone else who has direct contact with patients. I’m just back from getting THE vaccine.
Honestly, I feel like celebrating and shouting and dancing! Hooray!!! The wait is over and the end is actually in sight! But there’s no one to dance with at home. In getting it so early in the cycle I’m still painfully aware of everyone I know who hasn’t, and that won’t for months. So my celebration is tempered with worry for others. And frankly a guilty feeling: Why should I receive it so soon when my family and friends won’t? So just now  I actually can’t really celebrate…yet.  And probably when others get it they too will feel alone in their gratitude and celebration, as we all will get the shot on different days. I suppose I’ll have to content myself, we’ll all have to content ourselves, with celebrating  and dancing … inside.
As for the event, what struck me was its utter banality. Fill in papers, give birthdate, state name…over and over. Sit down over there, wait here. Then a brief jab, less painful than some shots, and its done. Just that. Somehow I wanted the trumpets to blare and the confetti to drop, but it was, in the end, just a shot. Like we’ve each had a thousand times.
It was incredibly efficient. Berkshire Medical Center was very well organized, with people at the doors and people taking names and people guiding traffic and people giving shots and people watching over the waiting room and everyone standing 6 feet apart. At my hour, 2:30, there were probably 50 people scheduled and we went through like, to use an overworked metaphor, clockwork. This was an efficient and elegant room.
And it was a happy room. Hospitals can be tragic places, serious places. Most of the hospital wards have known death and heartache and pain. But this was a happy room. Not a dancing or singing room, but an optimistic room, a room with hope just the other side of the exit door.
That exit door, by the way, led to an auditorium used as a waiting room, where we each timed ourselves for 15 minutes to make sure we didn’t have an allergic reaction. Fortunately, I didn’t. Neither has anyone in our hospital today, I heard. I for one was more than happy to wait there and would have been happy to stay for an hour longer.
It’s a good moment this one, a celebratory, hopeful, scared and sore-armed moment.
May you too have such a moment … soon.
Robert Forman
The writer is chaplain at Berkshire Medical Center.