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COVID-19 vaccinations are ready to be administered by a small army of volunteers Thursday.

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When coronavirus first became the thing last March, I was admittedly wary of all the hype I was hearing.

It seemed like most of the people getting it had cold-like symptoms, and shutting down schools, businesses and much of life seemed like an overreach.

My mind began to change because of where I lived. At the time, I was in Del Rio, Texas, and directly behind my house was a funeral home. We had lived in the house for three months before COVID hit, so we were used to occasional weekend funerals.

But when COVID hit Del Rio, it did so with a force. I saw the difference because I could see the funerals stacking up behind my home. Personally, I didn’t live in fear, but I did take all the extra steps recommended by health officials.

COVID became extremely real when my wife caught it. Before COVID, my wife had pneumonia two times, the last landing her in intensive care for a couple of days. So, when she caught COVID, I was afraid. And it took a toll on her. She never went to the hospital, but she was miserable for weeks, and some of the stranger symptoms lingered for months.

Because of those two things in my life, I was ready to get the COVID vaccine when it became available. I was a little wary, primarily because it was so new. We’ve all seen with new technology – phones, TVS, computers primarily – that the first ones seem to have the bugs. If you wait a year, you can buy the product without all the hiccups.

I had a similar attitude when people began to get vaccinated for COVID. Fortunately, I didn’t have a choice but to wait. At my age, I wasn’t eligible for the vaccine until March. By then, I was confident it was safe and effective.

My vaccine story came almost by surprise. Early in March, the Coquille Indian Tribe announced it was opening its vaccines clinics to the public. I believe the first one was for anyone over 65. I contacted the tribe at the time, and they invited me to come do a story on the clinic.

It was impressive. Staffed fully by tribal members or tribal employees, the clinic ran smooth, quickly and everyone there, workers and people getting vaccinated seemed happy.

And by then my parents had received their vaccines, with no negative side effects. That took away any concern I had about getting the vaccine.

A week or two later, the tribe announced again it was opening the clinic to the general public, but this time it was for those 45 and older. I called my wife and she agreed I should do it, so I signed up for a vaccine clinic two days later.

When I arrived that Sunday morning, it was much like the one I wrote a story on. I waited in line a bit, was screened for COVID symptoms, turned in my paperwork and went back to get the shot. In about 10 minutes, the entire procedure was finished. They did ask me to wait for 15 minutes to ensure there were no adverse reactions. So, within 30 minutes, I walked out with a second appointment set three weeks later.

For a few days after the shot, my arm was a little sore. I didn’t notice during the day, but if I slept on it at night, it would get my attention. But in about three days that was gone.

I was a little worried about the second shot because I had heard the worst side effects were possible then. When I went, the procedure was the same, except a little quicker. A doctor answered my questions about side effects, and I went on my way.

As far as side effects. Virtually nothing. I had a sore arm again, but it cleared up within 36 hours. No other problems at all.

For me, getting a vaccine was easy, smooth and, maybe best of all, absolutely free. No one even asked about money. In about a week, I will be almost 100 percent immune for COVID, and it already feels good.

If you are hesitant about getting the shot, I recommend it. Whether it’s through the Coquille Tribe, one of the hospitals or a local pharmacy, it’s easy, free and well worth it.

For more than a year, we’ve all be asking when we can return to normal. My belief is that time will only come when enough people get vaccinated. I did my part, and I would encourage you to do the same.

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