On December 17th, DHMC nurse Sadie Smith was set to become one of the first Upper Valley residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. That morning, she woke up to 40 inches of fresh snow.
“So I went to bed with no snow and typically my ride to work is like 35 minutes. I woke up and we couldn’t even leave the house. I woke up around seven and my appointment was for 3:30pm. I was like, “Oh, I’m not gonna cancel this appointment.” My husband’s like “I don’t understand why you’re gonna do this. You’re gonna get it one way or another.” And I was like, “I’m not missing this appointment. I’m getting my vaccine, I’m gonna be one of the first fifty to sixty people that got it at DH.”
So we spent all day cleaning snow around our house, the chicken coop… and at one point there were just cars lined up in front of my house because there was a giant accident down the road. I can’t even get out of my driveway. I can’t go this way and I can’t go that way. I’m literally stuck in my house. And so finally that cleared up, the snow stopped at one.
So when I walk in, they’re screening all the people who come to the hospital. So I show my badge, to show who I am… I belong there and I just happen to casually mention, “Oh, I’m here for my COVID vaccine”, and she’s like, “Oh okay” and she just got excited, and she’s like “In that case, do you have any of these symptoms?” And she reviewed them with me and I was like “no, I’m good.” She was like, “Alright, good luck”, and she—you know she was just super excited.
And then I went to the clinic where they were doing the vaccines and everybody was just sort of jovial. It was so hard to describe. Some of the critical care doctors that I used to work with were there getting it. One of the ED physicians I work with—we made our appointments at the same time, so we took a pre-COVID vaccine selfie. We didn’t have the chicken pox vaccine growing up, so we went to chicken pox parties and I kind of liken it to that, where we were all at the COVID vaccine party.
Everybody was in a good mood. Everybody was super excited to be participating in this momentous thing in history, especially health care history. I felt like there was finally some hope. You know, like we finally as health care workers, we have something at our disposal that’s gonna help prevent this virus—this pandemic from taking more lives and causing more long term health concerns and stress on people who work in health care. It’s finally… there’s just this little light at the end of the tunnel and that to me is something I’m just gonna hold on to for a little while longer.”
We are a long way from saying goodbye to COVID-19, but for many, including Sadie Smith, the first vaccines represent hope. So here’s to hope.