For many of us, the release of vaccines for COVID-19 comes with many questions – one of which might be, “What was it like?” One of our library staff members, Lillian, shared her personal experience with me of signing up for and receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
When DHEC (the Department of Health and Environmental Control) made the announcement that people over 70 could receive the vaccine in Phase 1-A of the vaccination schedule, my husband and I started looking into the process of making appointments. It felt like it took forever! The Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) website would only let me enter my name before it froze up completely, and I called the number listed on the website but to no avail. It was extremely frustrating, but I was determined to get us signed up.
Finally, on a Saturday in late January, a nice representative at the VAMS number helped us sign up. My appointment was scheduled for just two days after that! Both my husband and I needed to have our own email addresses for our respective appointments. I thought I could remember my husband’s email address, but after trying several times – well, it just did not work. I kept trying to call the PRISMA number, but I couldn’t get through even after calling several times. I finally called the VAMS number again, and the representative helped walk me through the process. We managed to get my husband an appointment on the same day as mine! I felt so relieved.
We arrived the next day for my husband’s morning vaccine appointment at Gamecock Park in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. We got there about 30 minutes early for my husband’s appointment; mine was for the afternoon, but we hoped to get vaccinated at the same time. We followed the line of cars around the parking lot, and then we spoke with volunteers who gave us forms to fill out and information to read. We continued following the line of cars until we were directed to park our car under a tent.
Healthcare workers administered our first doses of the vaccine. It was virtually painless, and it was done so quickly that I almost didn’t feel it! After that, we received a piece of paper with the time we received our vaccines, and we were directed to another area to wait for fifteen minutes. A healthcare worker checked on us when we first pulled up to that area and did so again fifteen minutes later. We felt fine and left soon afterward. Everyone was incredibly nice and provided great care to us – it was both exciting and such a relief! The entire process – from our arrival to receiving our vaccines, to waiting and then leaving – only took an hour.
"I am proud to have done my part of protecting my loved ones and others around me!"
For our second round of the Pfizer vaccine, we made another appointment through PRISMA Health’s MyChart, which was much easier to use, and were scheduled for a few weeks later. However, the only appointments they had were two weeks after our recommended date for the second dose. Due to inclement weather, we went to PRISMA Baptist on the recommended date but were eventually routed to PRISMA Richland because we were considered walk-ins. I admit that it was a little frustrating, but everyone there, just like at Gamecock Park, was so understanding and helpful! Once we got to PRISMA Richland, we waited half an hour for registration, and then only an additional 10 minutes after that to receive our second doses of the vaccine. Just like after our first dose, we waited 15 minutes to be monitored for symptoms, but after that, we were sent on our way.
Throughout the process of everything, everyone provided such great customer service and took such diligent care of my husband and me. Neither of us exhibited any side effects or adverse reactions from either dose of the vaccine. It was painless both times we received our vaccine doses, and I am so grateful that we were able to sign up and receive both doses successfully. For anyone who is eligible but nervous about the vaccine, let me say that it is worth it, and I am proud to have done my part of protecting my loved ones and others around me!
With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) currently impacting the U.S., we've compiled a list of resources and information to help you and your family stay informed. Need assistance registering for the vaccine? Call our trained staff at 803-799-9084 for assistance, Monday - Fridays from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
For more information about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in South Carolina, click here. For additional COVID-19 resources and information, click here.