Vaccine United


Natalie L

Pittsgrove resident

In March 2020, I instantly became isolated with a sick spouse and a young child. Little did anyone know or realize that a 2 week isolation would turn into years of constant worry without a cure or hope to return to life as we knew it before COVID-19.

Through the first several months, we did not see anyone and all of our food came through delivery to our door. We would wave to all the amazing brave humans from the window and hold up huge heart gestures to thank them for their willingness to risk their own lives to bring us our necessities. One grocer even brought my child an ice cream, and this was such a delightful moment.

Everyone did their part to keep life inside the walls of our home continuing. School was at the kitchen table and eventually we set up a classroom space. Doctors were by telehealth visit, as were holidays, playdates, and cooking with friends and family, magic shows, music lessons, and religious school by zoom. We were grateful not only for the brave people bringing us our groceries, but also to be living in a time where technology was able to allow life to continue as best as a new normal could be.

We rode the storm and finally some good news came in the Spring of ‘21. I was overwhelmed with emotions when I stood in the line at CVS in Connecticut – and especially as it was my turn to receive the first dose of Pfizer. No other vaccine had ever meant so much to me to offer promise of seeing my family again, having freedom to eventually receive a hug from a friend, or hope that someday my child could experience the simple pleasures of playing on a playground, swimming lessons, camp, going to school in person, etc., which all abruptly came to a halt without warning.

All I could think about while receiving the vaccine was how grateful I was for those who figured out a way for us to move forward. I kept thinking about how hard they worked, not just at work but their educational journey that led us to this moment. The hope I had for my child and that someday soon, he too could receive his vaccination. I thought about the brave volunteers who took part in the trials. To everyone who wore masks and kept their distance to help everyone stay safe until there was another option.

I thought about how much I learned in isolation and all that it taught me about my family, friends, myself, and what I wanted in life… what really mattered at the end of all of this was to be safe, happy, and loved. To be grateful for all that we still had.

The vaccine does not seem an instant cure like in a movie. It will take a long time to resolve; however, our day came to become one step closer in the fall of 21. My child was finally eligible to receive their vaccine. Without hesitation, we went to Inspira in Vineland NJ as I had moved from Connecticut to live with my parents in the late summer.

Not knowing the healthcare system in NJ, I found this experience especially easy to navigate. The hospital had a wonderful setup and was especially kid friendly. The staff was very nice to the children and they encouraged me to have my child sit on my lap. I gave him a hug as they gave him his first dose and before we knew it, it was done.

There were plenty of good distractions on the walls; colorful stars to count, lego banners, kids coloring pages, and prizes afterwards to encourage no worries about repeat visits in a few weeks. I not only felt lucky to have this positive experience for my child but lucky for the opportunity to receive this protection for my family. A child who is almost impossible to vaccinate, took it like a champ and mainly because it really was handled with care.

It takes a village… If we can do it, you can too!