The Call - The Orca
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The Call

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As an essential caregiver, Jody Vance not only got The Call – but has received her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s how that went down.

It went something like this.

Phone rings with call display that makes my heart flip with concern:

Dad’s care home.

I’m his essential care-giver. This number comes up when he’s fallen…or lately, when there’s an outbreak, or his COVID test results are in.

GULP.

“Hello?”

“Hi Jody, it’s ***** calling from your Dad’s unit. As his essential care you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, is that something you would consent to doing? Would you have it?”

“100% yes, I would.” (Without hesitation)

“Okay, we will call when we have a day and time for you.”

“Okay, thanks.” (In shock)

Two days pass, leaving me wondering if, rather than when, it might happen.

Last Saturday, at 5:45 pm, my phone rings with the familiar display.

“Hi Jody, will tomorrow at 12:30 or 3:45p work for your?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, great, bring your care card and your ID.”

Once I hung up the call the rollercoaster of emotion hit that I hadn’t anticipated. Verklempt.

Relief came first. The weight of worry each time I walked through the doors of Dad’s LTC Home has been massive for the last 10 months. The thought of accidentally bringing the virus with me to my essential visits with dad being eliminated was almost overwhelming.

There was the middle feeling…the one that was the nicest, this was the phone call signaling the true beginning of the end of this COVID nightmare, at least for me.

Then, the guilt. With such scrutiny about who’s getting the shot when — should I even accept the vaccination?

That last emotion surprised me. Why on earth would I second guess these decision makers?

When I told my Mom about the guilt she was swift to chastise me: “what a waste of time THAT is!? You go get that shot and you do all of the things with immunity that you can.”

God I love her. Decision made. (Note: I did not post for public opinion prior to my appointment.)

Sunday morning I woke up feeling like it was a game-day. This shot was happening and I would share the experience here.

This is me walking-the-walk of being pro-vaccine, and science celebrator. And for what it’s worth, I’ve also been a scrupulous public health order follower. Tightest of tight bubbles, non-travelling, non-gathering. All of it.

As someone who shares info and opinion for a living, I kept this close to the vest, with just a handful of close friends until it was in my arm.

The final hill of the rollercoaster of emotion was gratitude for everyone who made that little vial of Pfizer vaccine possible. It reached our family and brought with it hope.

The solo and silent ride to the Care Home was emotional.

I’m not going to lie, I did flash back to vaccinating my baby boy with the then-controversial MMR shot. My psyche asked: “what IF?” What if I have a reaction? What might the unknown side effects be?”

That lasted about two seconds. Then I shook that off.

Keeping the tradition of bringing a Triple-0’s chocolate shake, no whip, for Dad, I was greeted by the staff with a big “Hello Jody!”, when walking through the layers of locked doors. Medical mask, face shield, sanitized hands: ready for secondary screening. My familiar friend at the security desk hit me with the laser thermometer, and jots down my name on his arrivals list.

He knows all my answers already, but for protocol:

Any travel?
Any symptoms?
Any contact with COVID positive?

Though this has become reflex, it’s anything but “just a drill.” Even with every imaginable layer covered, this home has had three outbreaks, the most recent proving tragically deadly.

This time, though, I was taken away from typical direct path to Dad (they took his shake to him).

There were about a dozen or so others waiting patiently, each looking at one another with that knowing gaze of the magnitude of the moment.

Let’s call it equal parts scared and relieved.

Ready to wait as long as it took, I hadn’t been seated for more than 30 seconds when I was called.

Yes, I was nervous. Yes, I was excited. Absolutely, I felt like I might cry.

The three stations in the room had robed/goggled/gloved/masked techs sitting at a safe distance with rolling trays filled with vials and syringes. I got the okay to take the photo above.

The questions were not new; almost identical to getting a seasonal flu shot. They explained the need to wait 15 minutes and “if there is an allergic reaction to this shot, we are prepared to manage it and help.”

I steadied myself, and then quickly heard:

“You’re done.”

I didn’t even feel it. Seriously, not sure what I was expecting — but probably more than that.

I thanked everyone and they laughed at how this was the best job; everyone is so relieved to receive the shot. They signed my COVID-19 Vaccination Record card, which has the batch #, date and room for the second shot info. They said I’d be called when ready — “21 to 32 days from now.”

The real deal.

Tucking that card into my wallet felt really good. Like, REALLY good.

Out in the hallway I went to wait my 15 minutes. My fellow shot-getters communicated with their eyes:

“You good? I’m good. You good?”

Unifying.

The drive home was surreal, it was done. No going back. Now I’m on Team Pfizer.

As for side effects, there was nothing immediate besides being really thirsty and a bit achey. Nothing unusual. It was no more than a flu shot. Slept like a log. Woke up with a sore arm, but that’s it.

It’s safe to say there really are no remarkable side effects for those of us without allergies.

The biggest impact of getting this shot, so far, has been the reaction of a few who demand an explanation why I received it before ______.

My answer is simple: It wasn’t up to me. It was offered to me by the people protecting my Dad, for whom I am an essential caregiver. I accepted. At no time did I request preferential treatment of any kind, this was just my place in the queue.

If you aren’t a regular reader, you can find more about my being my father’s caregiver here … or here … or here. You get the picture.

At one point in this pandemic I navigated Dad through cancer surgery. I was responsible for his transport, care within hospitals, and even within day surgery operating rooms.

In 30-odd days the all-consuming fear of unknowingly carrying COVID into his home – and very likely, indirectly causing someone’s death – will be history. No matter your position, that’s some Middle we can all get our hearts and minds around.

I can’t wait to hear your vaccination story. When you get the call…take it.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

SWIM ON:

SWIM ON