Opinion: My COVID-19 vaccine story 

On March 27, I walked down the infamous halls of Fenway Park to receive my first dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine. 

From the moment the needle met my arm, my daydreams from the last year have felt more realistic. 

Over the last year, I have worked as an essential employee and stayed home worrying about the implications of the global pandemic. I imagined being able to see friends again without the threat of contracting the virus. I have not seen family members who live out of state since Christmas 2019. I hoped to be able to make the hour-long drive to see them without having to quarantine or get tested from my trip. 

These are the little dreams that seem more attainable now that I am partially vaccinated. My fantasies of flying to France or taking a vacation on a beach are also very real, but those dreams still seem further away. 

Ashley Fairchild

As I waited in a socially distanced line at Fenway, I thought I would feel more––more excitement or nerves for a vaccine that has only recently become available. But what I found myself thinking of was the little day-to-day activities I could resume with less fear. 

I was grateful that I was able to make the last day of the Fenway clinic, as it shut down when the baseball season started again. I knew that many were still struggling to get an appointment and that I was lucky. Something about being in a Boston institution, surrounded by other Bostonians under the green brick tunnels, was therapeutic after a year of being away from places like this. 

The vaccine appointment alone brought a sense of normalcy back to my life that I had lost over the last year. 

After the shot, I waited for 30 minutes to see if any side effects occurred, since my allergy to other medicines put me at a higher risk of a reaction. As someone who is impatient with waiting times, I found myself happily sitting among baseball paraphernalia, at peace with the situation. 

When my 30 minutes were up, my arm was sore but I was otherwise unharmed. I took advantage of the photo op that Fenway set up and took a selfie with the baseball field in the background, a way to announce I had gotten vaccinated without posting my card on Instagram like everyone else. 

Ashley Fairchild

As I walked out of the park, there was an anticlimactic moment. There was no parade to celebrate, no balloons or burning of masks. I just walked to my car in the sunshine and secretly knew I was one step closer to being safer. 

Over the next few days, my arm and shoulders were extremely tender and I was exhausted.  Otherwise, the vaccine made its way quietly known. 

The dose isn’t an instant safeguard against contracting COVID-19, but I still feel cautiously optimistic. Optimism is something I have not allowed myself to feel over the last year’s difficulties. 

My second dose is scheduled for April 17, and though I won’t be hosting any large indoor gatherings or ditching my mask when in public, I look forward to the little moment––hugging my family, actually taking my first class on campus, seeing other vaccinated friends. 

The vaccine is the first step in recovering the normalcy that we have lost, but moving forward is still a slow process that we all need to work to be a part of.