June 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How I Received Both COVID-19 Vaccinations

I received a message from Montefiore Medical Center on Monday, January 18, with a link to register for a COVID-19 vaccination, offering a selection of dates and times. I had not been anxiously looking for a COVID vaccination, and so was at first suspicious whether this link was valid. To verify, I first checked my Montefiore account, where I saw the same message and link.

Clicking the link, I was offered a choice of dates and appointment times as early as two days later! “Too easy,” I thought, but selected an appointment for my first shot, only three days later, at their vaccination center at Eastchester Road in the Bronx.

I arrived at the large Montefiore medical building, which has easy access and had free parking. My ID was first checked in the building lobby entrance, and then again entering the second floor, where a line of about 20 people also waited, slowly moving down the hall to be screened by a registered nurse for any possible allergies or previous adverse reactions to vaccinations.

Once I was screened, the actual vaccination process took less than a minute. Multiple vaccination stations were well prepared in a large open room with cubicles which looked like any office space. Each cubicle contained a seat for the patient, and the desk had a tray prepared with a bottle of the COVID-19 vaccine, alcohol prep pads and already-opened bandages for each injected arm.

After vaccination, the nurse asked the patient, “How are you feeling?” and then every patient sat in a nearby observation room for 15 to 20 minutes. But when the RN observing us told me after only five minutes that I could leave, I replied, “I came for the free WiFi, and I’m looking for a plug to recharge my phone.” Hearing that, she said she knew I was fine and could leave whenever I wanted, but I was exchanging stories with the other patients, no more than four in the glass-paneled see-through room.

I left Montefiore feeling incredibly and profoundly grateful that I had survived the past year without getting COVID.

I recognize how my habits and interactions have vastly changed since a year ago. I have limited my excursions outside, becoming more or less homebound, preferring the safety of home to the possibilities of being near or interacting with people who might have COVID. I have increased my shopping online, and switched to home delivery for items I previously shopped for in person.

I am aghast at people who foolishly do not believe valid news and medical reports of the more than 500,000—half a million—Americans who have died of COVID to date. I am saddened for the millions who have lasting damage from COVID. I am devastated that some people have what is called “long-term COVID,” of which we do not yet know all the effects, nor do we yet realize all the long-term care that may be needed for those who had COVID.

I am very grateful for the incredible, intensive effort and expertise, and devotion to saving lives, that researchers, epidemiologists, infectious-disease doctors, nurses and professionals in all manner of specialties have devoted to isolating and controlling COVID-19. I am exceptionally grateful to those who have devised, manufactured and distributed the vaccines in record time.

Before receiving my second vaccination, I was required to be tested for COVID due to a small, scheduled outpatient surgical procedure. I was glad to be tested, and on the Sunday prior to my second COVID vaccine, I learned that I had not previously been exposed to the virus and had not developed antibodies.

Now I was really eager to get that second shot!

I received my second shot of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19’s vaccine on Friday, February 12, and it was a far easier process. Upon arrival, I was sent right up, and no one was ahead of me—or behind me. I explained to the nurse that I had had no adverse reaction to the first shot, other than feeling a little tired and having a slight headache for several hours, and received the second vaccination.

Returning to my car parked nearby, I felt I needed to sit and settle down for a while, to process how incredibly fortunate I’ve been to survive unscathed. Friday afternoon after the shot, I did have a headache and once again felt tired, but after eating, I slept very well, more than I usually sleep. Shabbat morning, I arose feeling great, and planned to be in synagogue, but I soon felt my eyes closing and returned to sleep for another four hours. When I woke up next, I felt great, except for a slight soreness in my arm at the injection site, which is to be expected.

I urge everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible. The life you save will be your own, and those of your loved ones, friends, neighbors, and even the people with whom you argue. Remember that we all are created in the image of God, and all are valuable.


Robert Kalfus can be reached at [email protected] or 917-379-4165.

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