Blackhawk teachers reflect on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

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Susan Finch after receiving her first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in mid-January. Photo courtesy of Susan Finch; design by Kennedy Garman

Kennedy Garman, Multimedia Editor

In mid-January 2021, educators from Riverside County became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since then, many have had their chance to line up outside the nearest Riverside County vaccine clinic: Fullenwider Auditorium, located inside the once lively Indio Fairgrounds to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As education workers, some teachers at La Quinta High School were among some of the first in Coachella Valley to receive the vaccine. Susan Finch, who teaches French, and Samantha Hirsch, office specialist, received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The process to get an appointment was long and challenging. It was difficult to schedule an appointment, and the website was not very user-friendly. Many people were unable to get appointments because of high demand. Appointments were running out very quickly due to the overflow of people trying to get vaccinated.

“I’m really lucky,” said Finch. “I felt very fortunate to be there.” 

The process after scheduling the appointment was much easier. 

Once at the fairgrounds, there were a few lines to navigate. The process involved nurses checking IDs to verify identities, and there have also been many traveling nurses found around the country administering the vaccine. Because it was efficiently set up, receiving the vaccine was an easy and smooth experience, they said.

Photo courtesy of Susan Finch

“There were about 20 tables with 20 people administering the vaccine,” said Finch. “The nurses were organized and ran things smoothly.”

While the process wasn’t always easy, it was well worth it. 

While getting the vaccine is for personal safety, it’s much more than that for many people. For many, it’s about protecting the people around them.

“I have older parents and I honestly would like to be able to hug them,” Hirsch said. “I think it’s important for me to do it so kids can go back to school, and being vaccinated is the next step.”

Hirsch added that getting vaccinated is not only about the benefits she’ll receive but for things that are most important in her life. 

“I think this shows that if we work hard on things, then we can get vaccines and cures done if we apply ourselves,” said Hirsch. She added that she’s choosing to trust the science and the doctors.

Despite the controversy around the fast-tracked vaccine, Hirsch was more excited than nervous to receive the vaccine. 

After receiving the first dose, Finch only experienced mild symptoms. “My arm was incredibly sore,” she said. “I had a little bit of a headache, but it was gone within a day.” 

A month later, both Finch and Hirsch received their second dose. While Hirsch experienced very few symptoms, Finch had a little bit of a different experience. Most people experience the majority of their symptoms after their second dose, like Finch. 

“It made me pretty sick. The side effects were headache, body aches, and fatigue,” said Finch. “I felt like I had a bad case of the flu, but it didn’t last too long.” 

Getting the vaccine is a big step towards stopping the pandemic and attaining some sort of normal again.

“We need to get back to normal. Whatever it takes to get back to a normal life,” said Finch.