What it was like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the Houston-area

FILE - In this March 1, 2021, file photo, a patient receives a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine next to a guidelines sign at a CVS Pharmacy branch in Los Angeles. More than 27 million Americans fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will have to keep waiting for guidance from U.S. health officials for what they should and shouldnt do. The Biden administration said Friday, March 5, its focused on getting the guidance right and accommodating emerging science. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

PASADENA, Texas – The COVID-19 vaccine is finally available, and soon most Texas adults who did not qualify in any of the phases will be able to get their first dose after March 29.

I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday at a CVS Pharmacy in Pasadena, and to be honest, the process was a lot smoother...well, the “getting the shot” part, that is. Finding the appointment was a whole ‘nother ball game.

Once Phase 1B was announced, my doctor told me that I qualified for the vaccine due to my family history of diabetes and for obesity, even though I already had COVID last April.

After finding and selecting the first available appointment time at CVS Pharmacy in Pasadena, I answered a few questions, such as eligibility (age, occupation), history of vaccine reactions, medication and food allergies, and insurance information, if any.

The vaccine is free of charge whether you are insured or not, but they will ask you for your insurance card if you have insurance. Those who are uninsured will be asked for their Social Security number so that their vaccine can be covered by a federal program for the uninsured.

What’s great about setting your appointment with retail stores such as CVS Pharmacy and Kroger is that you can set both your first AND second doses, if you are receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. No need to worry about finding and setting your second dose appointment.

Checking in was easy. Before you arrive, you will receive a text message to ask for you to check-in, then you check-in at the front of the store. A table will be the first thing you see and the individual checking you in will check for ID and give you a COVID-19 Vaccination Card (you will need it later), so be sure to bring your driver’s license or any form of ID with you!

Oh, and bring a mask, too. You will need one.

Once that’s taken care of, you will stay in a socially-distanced line until you are next up. The line was moving super quickly, which was amazing. It didn’t take more than two minutes for the pharmacist to administer the shot to each individual.

I was next up, and the first thing the pharmacist asked for was my COVID-19 Vaccination Card, as he will need to note the vaccine’s lot number. He said it is helpful just in case the vaccine given to me ended up being recalled or defective.

Then he took my temperature, and finally, asked to roll up my sleeve.

The shot was supposed to be painless, but as someone with a constant fear of needles the size of a pinky finger, I pinched my eyes and felt a slight pierce through my skin. Before I knew it, I was ready to be sent to an observation area for 15 minutes, where CVS Pharmacy employees can observe patients in case of adverse or allergic effects (they will allow you to shop while in observation, but you are not allowed to leave until your 15 minutes are up).

As of writing, I have a slight headache and my arm still hurts from the shot, so it’s normal. The pharmacist said Tylenol will relieve some or all of the side effects such as fever and pain throughout your body.

To find a vaccine appointment and/or sign up for a waitlist in the Houston area, KPRC 2 compiled a list of Houston-area counties providing appointments and waitlists. Click here to learn more.

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