I wasn't particularly nervous until the hour before I was to get my COVID-19 vaccine. There were several questions I still had, but the thought of taking a trip or seeing family members I hadn't in a while was enough for me to say I would get it.

An opportunity was presented to me to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in my capacity as a teacher, working two days a week at Notre Dame High School. The appointment window opened and I ran through it, scheduling my single dose vaccine at Griffiss International Airport in Rome.

Several people I spoke to regarding the vaccine had mixed emotions or feelings on the topic. Many said to me they'd never get it, while others claimed they couldn't wait to get their shot. For me, I trust that it was approved by the FDA for a reason and it can only be of benefit.

The process was only mildly painless (the injection site). I drove to Rome a little early for my appointment which was scheduled for 4:00 p.m. I drove to the main Hangar at the airport and was greeted by members of the Oneida County Sheriff's Office. They were checking to make sure that I indeed had a confirmed appointment and was supposed to be there. I then was directed to pull around and wait in my vehicle in the line. The whole process was via drive-thru.

I then pulled up to the middle row of three lines of vehicles waiting to drive into my "hangar bay" where the shot would be administered. Another deputy approached as I got closer to the huge overhead door to take my temperature, a task he had done for each car ahead of and behind me. The fact that the deputies, and really everyone in line, were very nice and eased any last minute nerves I might have worked up.

A lovely woman named Beth greeted me once I pulled inside the hangar and in my row I was one of three cars. I shut my engine off as directed and listened to Beth while she gave me the easy rundown of what she would do, got my shot in the left arm and was given my vaccine card. While getting the shot I felt a slight bit of pressure, but nothing that caused too much discomfort. It really was easy. I did wake up the following day and felt immediate side effects of chills, muscle aches, headache and intense fatigue. But, that is a sure sign my immune system at work.

After I was given my shot and card, Beth instructed me on the potential side effects (possible nausea with Johnson & Johnson, headaches, possible fever or chills). Fortunately, I didn't feel any adverse impact immediately. I was then directed to drive to another hangar where lines of the recently vaccinated would wait their 15 minutes in the event of an allergic reaction. As I got to the front of that line, I realized the paper they tucked under my windshield had the time of my injection on it and once the clock on display by the exit door read 4:18 p.m. I was good to go. I pulled away and left with the relief of knowing I had been vaccinated against a virus I housed in my system three months prior. I realized I was now protected from the possible devastation it has caused so many others.

My message to you reading this is if you can get vaccinated, you really should. I personally never get the flu shot, but this is a different ball game. Our normal way of life depends on it. To know I can now go on a plane and not have to quarantine upon arrival back in the state is relief enough. I understand several people have valid concerns about the long term effects, but those in the short term like small businesses and those who may be more vulnerable to getting this virus depend on it. I would do it again and again if I had to.

Below you can see my easy step-by-step process of getting the drive-thru vaccine. Share your thoughts with First News with Keeler by calling 315-736-0186 or message us on the WIBX mobile app.

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