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I just got my second Moderna shot yesterday and thanks to CVS, it couldn’t have been any easier.

Let me back up for a second: Over a month ago, I was able to get vaccinated because I was at the right place at the right time. I was able to get a walk-up, last-minute vaccine because a number of people hadn’t shown up for their appointments. It was the end of the day and the open vaccines doses would have been disposed of because once a vial has been opened, it has to be used or discarded.

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I asked if they were administering the Pfizer vaccine (like I’m some kind of doctor … but for some reason, I wanted Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson). They said no, it’s Moderna. I made a quip like, “Is that a good one?” I was told, “The best vaccine is the one that’s available.”

And then, I could hear my late mother in my head, yelling at me because I have a history of asthma and two little kids: “Beggars can’t be choosers!” And of course, she would be right. Couple that with the fact that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to see anything go to waste, and of course I took it. Getting vaccinated is my ticket to see my lonely dad and other loved ones.

It seriously did not hurt a bit. Honestly, I couldn’t feel the needle go in my arm either time, that’s how thin the needle is. I also had no side effects from the first shot except for a mild headache and I felt a little wonky for a couple of days. My arm didn’t hurt a bit, which is the opposite reaction I had from both doses of the shingles vaccine (you can read about that here; those shots wiped me out and taught me a valuable lesson.)

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Since my age group wasn’t up yet, I decided to wait for my second shot until it was my turn so I didn’t take a dose from someone more in need than me. A friend taught me a trick for getting an appointment at CVS (same goes for Walgreens) quickly and easily. Here’s how.

After securing my appointment at a CVS, not far from LAX, I learned that they each carry different vaccine brands. The CVS in Playa Del Rey has Moderna while the CVS inside Target in Manhattan Beach has Pfizer.

CVS did a good job reminding me of my appointment via text and email. Here’s some of their advice:

On the day of your appointment:

  • Please arrive 5 to 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment to check in.. Arriving late for your appointment may result in an extended wait time.
  • Bring your vaccine record card, ID and insurance card, voucher or other coverage
  • Don’t forget a face covering—wearing it throughout your visit is required
  • When you arrive, please check in at the pharmacy area inside the store or follow the signs for the COVID-19 vaccine

CVS tips for vaccine shots:

  • Wearing short sleeves makes getting a shot easier and faster
  • If you must wear long sleeves, dress in layers with the short sleeves underneath
  • Review the patient fact sheet about the specific vaccine you are receiving

What to do if you feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Contact your health care provider immediately
  • If your provider recommends it, get tested for COVID-19
  • Cancel your appointment
  • Don’t come to the pharmacy
  • Schedule a new appointment when you’re well

After your vaccine:

  • Be prepared to stay for 15 to 30 minutes after the COVID-19 vaccination so you can be observed for side effects.
  • If you experience side effects from your COVID-19 vaccine dose, you may find some guidance at Coronavirus: Vaccine, Prevention Tips & FAQs
  • The CDC has created a way for you to report how you feel after the COVID-19 vaccination through a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to check in with you.. Learn about v-safe and sign up today.

I arrived 15 minutes early and checked in, using the link provided in the text message on my phone. But it didn’t really matter because when I arrived at the door, the host greeted me, and I believe took my temperature but I can’t even remember since I had so many questions and I was so excited. He didn’t ask my name but he did say that he kind of regretted getting his CDC card laminated in case there’s a booster but he wasn’t too worried. He was impressed that I had mine in a plastic protective covering. You can buy one here if you don’t have an old conference badge lying around your office like I did.

I figured I would have to wait since my appointment wasn’t for another 15 minutes so I when I asked how long it would take (my wife and kids were waiting in the car) he said I’d get my shot in about a minute and would then have to wait 15 minutes afterwards to make sure there are no side effects.

I thought he was kidding but sure enough, he wasn’t. I walked to the back of the store where there were two dividers and pharmacists (or technicians) administering the shots. I waited about 8 seconds until I was invited behind the divider. The woman who administered my shot was super friendly and answered a ton of questions for me including whether or not I should take Tylenol afterwards. I got her answer on video while I got the jab. Here’s the 15-second video.

The chairs are separated about six feet apart down one of the store aisles and there were a handful of people sitting in them, waiting their turn. I took the one closest to someone administering shots so I could ask more questions; they weren’t busy at all and could’ve vaccinated a ton more people.

One of the questions I asked was whether anyone could get a walk-up appointment like I had at another clinic. She said that at this store, they have a waitlist but at others, you can and one of my readers left a comment today stating the same. She said to call CVS or Walgreens one hour before closing for leftover doses and no-shows. No appointment necessary.

Then I asked if anyone experienced side effects in the 15 minutes they have to wait following the shot. She said she’s given thousands of shots and not one had but they do it just to make sure, because they don’t want anyone driving home and having a reaction. I heard the other person administering shots telling people they only had to wait 10 minutes. At some locations, they give you a clock to time your wait but not at this one.

The guy next to me was on the phone with his partner and I heard him say,” Since I’ve had COVID-19, they said my reaction will probably be worse than others.” I’m not sure if that’s true. I haven’t had COVID-19 but I thought the opposite was true. I was going to ask but my time was up so I said thank you, got my parking ticket validated (which saved me $1) and went back to the car.

My wife said, “You’re back already?!” Since it was April 1st, I decided to play a little April Fools’ joke. I said, “It was a real circus in there so after waiting for 15 minutes, I took off.” She said she almost had a heart attack because she thought I was serious. But in reality, my experience was just the opposite. Well done, CVS and USA.

5 Comments On "My Experience Getting Vaccinated"
  1. Tim|

    Tell us how you do over the next couple of days.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      So far so good! No reaction

  2. John Bennett|

    Johnny – I really enjoy your column and your story about the 2nd dose of Moderna you received. Like you I didn’t have much of a reaction, just a minor sore upper deltoid, but it was even less than when I received the 1st dose. Also, I didn’t take Tylenol or any other aspirin or NSAID for four days based on a few stories I read about those affecting the efficacy of the vaccine. I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV, but I figured if I could work through the very minor soreness, all the better.
    I also don’t know if you’ve covered this before, but you can register with CDC through their Vsafe portal and let them know when you received your vaccines. In turn they will send you a daily reminder to answer a few questions on your reaction to the vaccine. The link follows:
    Happy Easter, stay safe and healthy and smooth sailing,
    John B

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Great to know! Thanks for sharing

  3. P. Hart|

    2nd shot Moderna – Horrible..almost went to the ER, fever spiked to 103.5. Resting Pulse rate 140. Severe nausea,diarrhea, body aches! Happened 15 hours after the second shot.

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