Dylan Anderson: Pilot & Today news team gets COVID-19 vaccine

Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Dylan Anderson gets the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Lyon’s Corner Drug and Soda Fountain on Sunday morning. (Photo by Shelby Reardon)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As a reporter, getting calls from unfamiliar numbers is a common occurrence, and I always answer them, even if they often seem to be urgent messages in regards to my truck’s warranty lately.

The past few weeks, I have been getting calls from regular Routt County folks, and thankfully, they haven’t been complaining about my coverage. Instead, people have been asking me where they can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The first few times it happened, I didn’t really know what to do because, while I did spend eight years in college, I am no doctor. I basically just told people what I had reported in stories about the vaccine and directed them to the county’s website.

People often were not satisfied with that approach. They wanted explanations on the various tiers of distribution, what the difference in efficacy between vaccines means and where they might be able to get a particular brand of shot.

(Note: Every doctor that I have talked to while reporting on COVID-19 recommends getting whatever vaccine is available to you.)

These “quick” calls often started lasting 15 minutes or more. Still, it was kind of fun. I feel I haven’t been able to get to know Steamboat Springs and Routt County since I moved here in October, and chatting with some of these people kind of helped me start doing this.

Sometimes, people seemed to confuse me with the public health officials organizing the vaccine rollout. Others seemed to think I am an authority on the subject, even recommending their friends to call me with their questions. Somehow, I had become the Butterball turkey-talk hotline of Routt County vaccines.

One call Wednesday morning last week had a different flair, though. Instead of someone looking for a vaccine, it was someone who had vaccines for me and my colleagues at Steamboat Pilot & Today.

We quickly got signed up — journalists became eligible for the vaccine Friday, with the 1B.4 group opening up — and we all got our shots Sunday morning at Lyon’s Corner Drug and Soda Fountain.

It didn’t hurt at all. Interestingly, many vaccination sites are using the smallest possible needle allowed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so they waste less vaccine on the needle — which could be why it hurts less than a typical flu shot for some people.

At the last minute, I debated on which arm to get the shot in. I went with my dominant, right arm, because the person giving me my shot said the extra movement would help any pain go away faster. It doesn’t matter which arm, and you can get the second dose in a different arm if you want.

As good interviewers do, some of my colleagues asked what it felt like after getting the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. I jokingly said it felt like the end of the pandemic. No one laughed, a common response to my jokes.

It does feel like a significant moment, though.

For many of us, the pandemic has been awful. We have lost loved ones and friends, worried about losing others and have lived in isolation. Unemployment rates reached levels never seen since data was first recorded in 1948. More than a half million people have died, 19 of them here in Routt County.

But we have all done some pretty impressive things despite the pandemic as well. Personally, I finally graduated college, got a job in journalism and moved across the country. Our country held elections, learned how to go to school online and adapted to being together while 6 feet apart.

Many of us want to forget the past year, moving on from some of the darker days we have seen. But we should also remember how we have lived, what we accomplished and where we still have things to work on.

I can confirm getting the vaccine does not end the pandemic. It is possible to get COVID-19 after getting the first dose of the vaccine, and a handful of such cases have been seen locally, so keep wearing your mask.

But it does feel like the beginning of the end — a significant step on the return to normal.

As for what normal is post-pandemic, I think that is yet to be defined. Just as we have covered how COVID-19 upended our lives over the last year, we will be there to cover that new normal, too. I look forward to running into you whenever normal arrives, and until then, feel free to call and chat about vaccines.

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