Unlike Hamilton, I Threw Away My Shot

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by Brianna Albers |

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My first instinct was to scream.

After weeks of waiting, and days of researching clinics and time slots, I finally received the prized text message: “Brianna and 2 caregivers have been selected for the COVID vaccine.” I screamed, then sent an all-caps message to a group chat with friends that went somewhat along the lines of: “AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!”

Finally, my time had come. Finally, after weeks of watching friends and family get their arms shot up, I was eligible. It was my turn, and by God, I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity.

I promptly signed up for a slot, confirming that I was, in fact, eligible and able to go to the clinic the following day. I then emailed my parents. Subject line: “vaccine downtown tomorrow.” My heart was set. My digital tone of voice brooked no argument.

I woke the next morning with a skip to my crippled step. The vaccine won’t fix things. I fully intend to quarantine for two weeks after my second dose. I’ll wear a mask in public and social distance to the best of my ability. But I couldn’t help but feel that something was on the horizon — change maybe, or a reprieve from the hell that was 2020.

Fitting, really, with the vernal equinox right around the corner.

While my dad dried my hair, my mom called the clinic to see if they could vaccinate me in our van. A couple minutes later, she came back with a look on her face — a look I didn’t particularly like.

I had a decision to make, she said. And it was an important one.

Long story short, she wasn’t able to connect with someone in the vaccination clinic. The receptionist said they were planning on vaccinating several thousand people over the course of the weekend, which was a red flag — high traffic during a pandemic is generally not a good idea.

There were no appointment slots, so patients were asked to show up between 9 and 11 a.m. or 1 and 5 p.m. and wait their turn. Another red flag. The receptionist made it sound like the patients were expected to wait in the lobby. Given the clinic’s location — in the heart of Minneapolis-St. Paul, at one of the busiest hospitals in the city — you can understand why my mom was a little wary.

I didn’t want to cancel. I wanted my shot, and I didn’t want to risk getting lost in the shuffle. It felt like that song from “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” — it was now or never.

I knew, of course, that there would be other opportunities, but I was still grumpy about it. But it wasn’t just annoying. It was dangerous. As of March 10, Minnesota is in phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, which means that a majority of the people waiting for their shot were likely at high risk due to underlying health conditions. We shouldn’t have been lumped in the lobby like a bunch of sardines.

I was disappointed, but there was no point in unnecessary exposure at the 11th hour. It would be just my luck to avoid COVID-19 for a year, only to catch it on my way to get vaccinated. So, I put on my big girl pants and decided that, yes, I would wait although it killed me.

I spent the next hour in an inconsolable huff. Meanwhile, my mom researched our options. I was adamant that there weren’t any — I had done my due diligence, short of calling every clinic in a 25-mile radius and asking if they could please shove a needle in my arm.

But I was lucky. It turned out that in the 24 hours since I signed up for the vaccine, another healthcare company had started allowing eligible patients to schedule vaccinations through the MyChart healthcare app.

I consulted with my dad, who gave me the green light for any day after noon, and scheduled an appointment on March 19 at 12:45 p.m. The clinic is in the suburbs, which was a good sign, as were the time slots. If all goes according to plan, I won’t be “sardining” it up on a Friday afternoon.

Later that day, I was trying to figure out what my next column would be about. I’d planned to write about the vaccine. I even had a snappy title: “Like Hamilton, I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot.”

Then I realized the inverse worked just as well.

Unlike Hamilton, I threw away my shot.


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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