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Second Shot

Started: 2021-05-10 20:31:16

Submitted: 2021-05-10 22:31:56

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator gets his second and final Pfizer mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

On Saturday I went to get my second COVID-19 vaccine shot at Levi's Stadium, three weeks to the day after my first shot.

Levi's Stadium Vaccination Clinic
Levi's Stadium Vaccination Clinic

On my way down the mountain, I drove from my home on Loma Prieta and I was merging onto California state highway 17 northbound at Summit Road when I saw that traffic ahead of me had slowed down. Normally I expect that traffic on highway 17 (a divided, four-lane highway at this point at Patchen Pass) is moving at highway speeds, so I have to plan carefully to accelerate and merge right behind an oncoming car in the right lane. Soon I saw the reason for the sudden slowdown: a vehicle on the opposite side of the highway had stopped on the shoulder with its hood fully engulfed in flames, and the underbrush on the opposite hillside was burning. So I did the obvious thing, rolled down my window so I could get a better picture before continuing down the mountain towards Los Gatos.

Vehicle fire on CA-17 at Summit Road
Vehicle fire on CA-17 at Summit Road

Some cars were awkwardly trying to use the left lane to pass the burning car, but behind that traffic was mostly stopped in both lanes. By the time I encountered the scene it looked as if the car had not been burning for very long, but heavy weekend beach traffic was already backed up several miles to Redwood Estates, where I saw a white Santa Clara County Fire engine trying to pass the traffic stopped in both lanes, able to make headway only as cars yielded onto the shoulder to let the emergency vehicle pass. A mile later I saw a second Santa Clara County Fire engine, then a CalFire engine, and finally a lone State Patrol cruiser.

From news reports I saw that the fire was stopped at an acre, with credit given to Santa Clara County's program of clearing underbrush to deny any potential fire the fuel it would need to take off.

The rest of my drive down the mountain to Levi's Stadium was uneventful. Everything was laid out as I remembered it from three weeks earlier, though there were fewer people in line at security, at the entrance to the field house, at the check-in counters on the ground floor, and in the lounge overlooking the field. This time I turned left rather than right outside the field house, and ended up in the United Club lounge on the second floor. I got my shot at station number 84, facing away from the field. This time the chair was sitting so that I sat down with my left arm facing the nurse, so I got my shot in my left shoulder. (I assume I get better 5G reception by getting one shot in each arm, for receive antenna diversity, if one were inclined to believe (or deliberately misinterpret) ridiculous conspiracy theories.)

I waited my fifteen minute observation period at the other end of the lounge, overlooking the field around the 30 yard line. I felt relieved to get my second shot; I'm finally one step closer to the end of the pandemic.

I stepped out into the sunny deck on the side of the field house and waited for my chance to take a selfie overlooking the field. The sign behind me proclaimed that the site had (as of a few days earlier) administered 219,530 total vaccinations, and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

Jaeger after his second COVID-19 vaccine shot
Jaeger after his second COVID-19 vaccine shot

I'm ahead of the vaccine curve for my household: Kiesa gets her second shot next week, and only today did the FDA grant emergency use authorization for Pfizer's vaccine to the 12-15 age group, which now includes Calvin. (There are, apparently, at least two more review boards that have to consider the vaccine before we can sign Calvin up for a shot, so even this vaccine news comes with a reminder that we shouldn't quite celebrate yet.) It'll still be months before Julian can get the shot, but even without him vaccinated it's probably ok to go out into the world again, as long as we avoid crowds of maskless unvaccinated people.

Now that I've gotten my second shot, I'm standing at the end of the tunnel representing our long nightmare of COVID-19. I can see the sunshine outside and I can hear the birds chirping and I can feel the fresh breeze on my face. I'm still standing under the last arch of bricks holding up the tunnel; in two weeks I'll have all of my antibodies and I'll step out into the world again, freed from the crushing anxiety of being caught up in the middle of a global pandemic that would not end.