It’s finally happening! It’s here! Hopefully, the shot that will END the days of solo tequila shots, taking shots with a camera propped on a stack of books and the shots-in-the-dark we take as we guess when life will feel normal again.
Last week, I had the privilege of receiving my COVID-19 vaccination due to my position as a front-line worker at a Toronto hospital. The week before my shot, I read a quote from a nurse working in an immunization clinic who described her work as “injecting hope.” I felt this image was an accurate representation of the Michael Garron Hospital pop-up clinic’s energy the day I got my vaccine. As people took pictures and shared huge smiles with the nursing team, there was unmistakable energy of excitement and joy, which I have never experienced in a medical procedure room.
My vaccine screening call, appointment booking, and shot all happening within 24 hours, gave me little time to unpack how I felt about this dream-come-true stab in the arm. As friends and family ask how it feels to be one of the first, the only way I can describe how I feel is grateful. I am grateful to work in a field that protects their front-line staff. I am grateful for a body that can handle a vaccine and build antibodies. I am grateful for a safe, sanitary and universal healthcare system. I am grateful to be Canadian.
I was humbled into this state of gratitude as I waited in the observation room after receiving my vaccine. A young staff member from a long-term care home in Toronto called the observing nurse to her seat, one row behind me. She asked the nurse what the vaccine would cost her, he replied with “Nothing, it’s free,” to which she replied, “Wow, Canada is amazing!”
This humbling and straightforward moment struck a chord in my heart that made time stand still, as a single tear escaped from the corner of my eye and got caught on the edge of my blue surgical mask. This moment reminded me that YES, WOW, Canada is amazing.
I am well aware that Canada is not perfect. We have our fair share of injustices, Indigenous genocide and racism, and I am sure inequities surround this vaccine rollout. Still, we are a place where (hopefully) every Canadian who wants a vaccine will have the opportunity to be vaccinated, which is pretty amazing.
So, this is a simple story of probably the only vaccine I will remember receiving, but I will end with a hopeful plea. Sure, shots hurt, and they can be scary. Injecting something into your body that you don’t fully understand can be unsettling; the speed at which health professionals developed this vaccine may have you second-guessing the safety of this shot. But all I ask is when presented with the chance to be immunized, recognize the great privilege you hold by having the opportunity to get vaccinated. Please acknowledge that this vaccine is a life force, offering you the chance to be a part of protecting all of us. We have learned some important lessons through this pandemic, and I would like the opportunity to put these new perspectives into meaningful change in a world where we don’t need to be six feet apart. I understand that maybe the vaccine is not the right choice for you. Still, I would challenge everyone who gets the opportunity to be vaccinated; before you say no, do some research, I think you may find this vaccine is one of the safer and more researched things you’ll allow into your temple that day.
So as they roll out this vaccine, I hope soon, it presents itself to you, and you take a stiff shot of hope in your arm for a better world that is safer for all of us because you got vaccinated.
Amy is a fresh grad with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation. University does not come naturally to a person with a learning disability, making Amy uniquely proud of her undergraduate accomplishments. Amy is working to be more open about her disability and strives to view her learning challenges as an opportunity for growth in resilience and creativity.
She has worked with rehab patients, people with disabilities, veterans and mental health clients searching for more equitable access to community recreation. She believes wholeheartedly in the therapeutic benefit of doing what you love, as often as you can.