By Evelyn Renold
I was thrilled to get a Covid vaccine appointment (same day, no less—and at a clinic not too far from where I live on the Upper West Side). It happened last week, and the process went smoothly with almost no wait time. But I didn’t realize what a big deal it was until afterwards, when I learned that others in our area were having a tough time getting their shots. One friend has an appointment for March 11—March 11!—which she secured with no small amount of trouble. Others have booked appointments in boroughs not their own, or in massive arenas (like the Javits Center) recently converted to medical units.
To those who are still having trouble signing up, I offer this consolation: I heard on the news tonight that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to be introduced in February—trials are going well—and will only require one, as opposed to two, shots. Speaking of which, I was able to secure an appointment for my second vaccination—you have to wait a month between shots--at the same clinic. This is the Moderna vaccine, which seems to be what is mostly on offer in New York; the Pfizer requires a three-week wait. Another friend, who is to be vaccinated on Friday at a clinic on 115th Street, told me she was unable to get that second appointment, and may have to look elsewhere for her follow-up.
In terms of immunity, I gather you don’t get the full benefit until two weeks after the second shot. Also, the side effects may be worse after the second vaccination. Friends of mine flew from New York to Colorado the other day to get their shots. They have a home in Telluride, where they were able to book both their Moderna vaccines. However, the doctor at the clinic advised them not to travel for two weeks after they receive the second shot.
For the record, my only side effect from the first shot (so far) is a slightly achy, swollen arm. But the young woman who administered the vaccine told me she had fever chills and other symptoms. So there doesn’t seem to be much consistency.
And there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of assurance in terms of the amount of vaccine that will be available in the near future. Friends in London tell me there has been talk of mixing and matching the vaccines there—e.g, you get the first shot from, say, Pfizer and the second from Moderna. But I don’t think there have been any trials to support this idea. My clinic seemed confident they would have enough vaccine in a month for my second immunization, but who knows? It’s all very chaotic—or as another friend dubbed it, “a real shit show.”
A magazine and newspaper editor, Evelyn Renold now works with individual writers at evelynrenold.com