Half-Vaccinated and Fully Ready to Rejoin Society

At Amazon’s large “SuperVax” site in Seattle last month, I got my first COVID-19 vaccine dose. My second dose is coming up later this month. I’m already looking forward to resuming in-person contact with the friends, family, and co-workers that I’ve been isolated from for the past year.

The SuperVax site is at Amazon’s conference center in one of its high-rise buildings in South Lake Union. It’s run by Virginia Mason, a local medical organization, and features dozens of volunteers ushering people through a labyrinth of lines. I don’t think I stopped moving until I was in the chair getting my first dose. After a 15-minute waiting period during which a volunteer came by with a tablet to sign me up for dose 2, I was done. I biked about 5 miles home, feeling a little sniffly as I approached my home, and taking it easy for the remainder of that day and the next. I’ve been told that the second dose hits harder than the first does, so I’m already planning to live off frozen food and meal delivery for a few days if I have to.

Getting vaccinated is my first priority and I’m very impressed by how quickly it’s happening. I was first eligible to get a dose on April 15; after some frantic checking I booked first one appointment on April 30 and then got a text message that let me book an earlier appointment at SuperVax. Now, less than a month after all 16-year-olds in Washington became eligible to book appointments, sites are accepting walk-ins and many of my local pharmacies boast of plentiful appointments. I might even try to rebook my second dose at a site within walking distance. I hadn’t expected to even start my vaccinations until June or July given all the earlier restrictions.

My first post-vaccine trip is already booked: I’m going to New York next month to see my parents and brothers in person for the first time since around Christmas 2019. I’m also planning my usual Thanksgiving and Christmas trips that I skipped last year. A cousin of mine is getting married this fall in California; that was postponed from last year and is currently scheduled to happen whether or not all guests are vaccinated.

I’m even facing the possibility of taking an international trip out of loss aversion. I had planned a trip to Copenhagen and southern Sweden in May 2020, booked many months in advance. The hotel for which I had prepaid issued me a gift certificate that expires May 25, 2021; with Denmark’s borders still shut to U.S. tourists, I asked for another year’s extension so I could visit next spring. “Fortunately, it seems like 2021 will be the year we beat COVID-19,” began the surprising response. The hotel offered to let me book a stay between now and the end of the year, offering to further extend the credit if restrictions remain in effect for longer. That’s a pretty expensive game of chicken to play with a prepaid customer. Now I’ll be keeping an eye both on border restrictions and on flight prices — my flight from May 2020 could be rebooked today for about twice the price in September 2021, for instance. I’ll also have to keep an eye on my specific hotel’s pricing and availability, as I’m pretty much locked into staying there. It’s not the most relaxing way to book a vacation.

Closer to home, I’m looking for a new site for Seattle’s Pittsburgh Steelers Meetup Group, which I administer. For over a decade we had met at — and been sponsored by — Fadó, an Irish pub in Pioneer Square. Fadó closed last March 15 due to COVID restrictions, stayed closed for the rest of 2020, and announced in January 2021 that they would not reopen. Now I’m looking for a new venue that can host groups ranging from 50 to 100 Steelers fans on game days. I’m already working on one lead near my home, but until I’m fully vaccinated I’m not ready to do any in-person meetings or location scouts.

The friend who’s coordinating our pool of Seattle Kraken season ticket buyers wants to get us together for brunch. My team might want to do an outdoor get-together whether or not our office is open. I’d like to have guiltless gatherings this summer with friends and family in the area, including some who are moving to the area. It’s been far too long. Here’s to recovery.