• Russell Levinson

The vaccine experience

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

No, it's not a new ride at Disneyland. I'm talking about my personal experience getting the Covid-19 vaccine recently in New York City.

First, each state is operating on their own with their own websites that will show where you can get a shot and when. In NY, you start here to check if you are eligible:

Step one: Am I eligible? Answer questions.

Step 2: Choose a location/Check for available locations

As you can see, the state has limited sites, and you do not get to choose your vaccine type. Do not expect to be able to choose anywhere, although it may be possible in some areas or locations.

Step 3: Location details

Step 4: Select an available time slot: Once you choose a site that has appointments, you may find this:

It looks like an available date with no appointment time.....probably the available appointment was just taken. I experienced this myself and after refreshing, re-clicking, and being patient, I finally snagged an appointment on March 13th. I was surprised that I was able to get this date, as I booked it just two days prior. This text came right after confirming a time and date:

My appointment was in Manhattan at the Javitz convention center, which I happened to be a 5-minute walk away from on my Manhattan staycation (post coming on that soon).

Entering the Javitz center gave me goosebumps. As I worked my way through the maze of lines and waiting areas with the help of the U.S. Army and others, I really started to feel the hope and promise of better days. I also felt the pride and astonishment of the moment. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are both American companies, and having these companies, as well as others around the world, work so quickly to develop these vaccines is a modern-day miracle.

The entire process took about an hour, including the shot, and sitting for 10 minutes afterward. All my information was confirmed when I checked in and again right before the shot. The lines moved fast with hundreds of stations setup to administer everything. The shot itself hurt a little but was quick and easy. They hand you an official CDC vaccination card with all the info you may need to prove your vaccination.

Lastly, lets discuss the side effects. 8 hours after my shot, it all hit me at once... headache, body aches, fatigue, a fever of 102, chills and sweats. This lasted for about 14 hours (8pm to 10am). My shot was at noon on a Saturday, and I felt fine again by noon on Sunday. Remember that this was the J&J shot and only requires one. It also may be less effective against the virus, according to the initial studies.

Coincidentally, my dad got an appointment at a CVS a few days later, and I went with him. The CVS had a small table with someone checking in confirmed appointments. Then you head to the pharmacy to double check your info. A small area was setup in a closed off aisle near the back of the store to check your temperature and give the shot. This CVS was giving Moderna vaccines, and the process took less than 30 minutes. My dad had no side effects other than a sore arm, and he is booked for the second shot in three weeks.

You can check for CVS locations here:

There may be many other websites to check. Start with a search for Covid-19 and your state. Keep in mind that these websites are getting slammed with traffic and you should check them early and often to snag a slot.

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