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COLUMN: Vaccine provides shot of hope

'Just over a year ago, we couldn't see a step in front of us let alone the light at the end of the tunnel,' says reporter

My experience getting the vaccine was something I won't forget and for all the right reasons.

I should first say that while I would recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine if someone were to ask me, I also will not belittle those who choose not to.

This is your choice and I can fully understand those who make the personal decision not to.

That said, if you’re going to get it, let me ease any hesitations you may have.

I went to PureHealth Pharmacy at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie. It wasn’t a small space with people lined up while someone in a lab coat went down the line poking them with a needle.

The space was huge — I later found out it's 6,300 square feet  and I felt completely relaxed as I originally felt I might be anxious while I waited.

If you are a person who has anxiety about getting the vaccine, that is going to be erased when Magdy Kamel comes up to you and says hello. 

Kamel is the CEO of the facility and also a pharmacist. He also had me laughing the whole time. Very funny guy.

He gave me my shot of Pfizer, which is the only vaccine they carry, and told me some facts about PureHealth that were pretty cool to hear.

I actually never saw another other person get their vaccine, if you’re worried about people watching you get your needle. Every seat was full when I was there, but it's all so personalized that no one actually sees you receive the shot. 

I was told the pharmacy gets anywhere between 120 to 150 shots a week, but is capable of doing up to 1,000. 

Hearing that made me realize we may get out of this whole thing sooner than we think.

You're asked to sit for 15 minutes just to be monitored for any reactions, which are rare. The person at the desk told me they’ve not had any yet. 

For 15 minutes, I sat there thinking about a year earlier and the complete unknown that existed. Just over a year ago, we couldn't see a step in front of us let alone the light at the end of the tunnel.

As a reporter, nearly every story I’ve worked on since March 2020 has had some kind of connection to COVID-19.

Online headline readers have asked us to talk about something else. Trust me, we’d love to and with every shot in the arm, I will be.

I sat there during my 15 minutes thinking about the summer and maybe getting to see a live event or just have people over in my backyard for a barbecue.

I feel like we see the light and it's attainable. 

As corny as it sounds, I left there with a bounce in my step and an air of positivity about me.

Regardless of what a meme on social media tells you, the vaccine is working. Numbers  particularly in the high-risk, 80-plus age demographic  are dropping.

I have had no side effects at all. My second dose is set for September, but I was told I’ll likely get a call before that.

Also, the needle is painless. If you don’t like needles for that reason, trust me, this is absolutely painless.

I am a person who avoids the doctor at every chance. (It drives my wife nuts.) 

But I jumped at the chance to get the vaccine. 

Educate yourself, absolutely. Don’t do anything without education. But education on the vaccine can’t be found on Facebook, or in a meme by someone with a random username and a bunch of numbers. 

It feels like we’re almost there and I haven’t felt this good since early 2020.