Mass Vaccination Clinic at Wolstein
Credit: Kim Fortson and Krista Fortson-Smith
The Mass Vaccination Clinic at CSU's Wolstein Center has been at the forefront of Ohio's bid to vaccinate the state's people.

What does it mean to some people to get vaccinated? A personal story

What getting the COVID-19 vaccine means to some Ohioans.

CSU's Wolstein Center started doubling as a mass vaccination center March 17, which will help thousands of Ohioans get vaccinated. I have a family that was able to take this opportunity to get vaccinated. This is their story.

My Mother and aunt got their first round of the Pfizer COVID-19 shot March 20 after a tumultuous year. 

They were both sent home March 16, 2020 from their jobs. They work at the same place and each of them knew they would have to rely on the other from a distance to get through whatever was coming.

Daily interaction with co-workers quickly turned into at-home interaction. They both miss their colleagues and workplace environment. 

“Life feels like a never-ending roller coaster since COVID-19 made its presence," Kim Fortson said." 

A month into quarantine and Fortson's place of employment reduced the workforce in her department by 35%.

"I am grateful to be one of the remaining, but the mental toll along with the concern of COVID-19 has been draining," Fortson said.

Her sister, Krista Fortson-Smith, said the pandemic made her realize how much people take for granted.

“Life has changed immensely. I am no longer working in an office, that in itself has been an adjustment," Fortson-Smith said. 

She misses her co-workers and the daily interactions and dialog. 

"Working from home now seems like Groundhog Day," Fortson-Smith said. 

Fortson-Smith missed out on her son's senior year of basketball and her daughter's sophomore college season. She was grateful for the livestream but wished to be there in person.

They agreed that the pandemic and isolation has made them lean on each other and watch out for one another. It's cut them off from their regular life and forced them to find alternative ways to enjoy family and friends. 

With this vaccine, the sisters are hopeful, ambivalent and excited about the future.

“The idea of being able to venture out to see family and friends with some interaction and still be safe; the thought of not being stuck in the home after working is a pleasant thought to have," Fortson said. "You need an outlet, or you will go stir crazy.”

Fortson-Smith echoed that sentiment.

“I am able to go places that I have not been in a while and feel a little more at ease," she said about the effect of the vaccine on her life and that of her family and friends.  

Getting the vaccine at CSU's Wolstein Center

On the Saturday morning that Kim and Krista went to the Wolstein Center to receive their vaccinations, they each had a good experience, but each was slightly different. 

Both of them agreed the set up and process was phenomenal and felt at ease throughout the whole thing. They said the staff was amazing in guiding them through each step of the process. 

“It ran smoothly from checking in, receiving the vaccine, scheduling the second appointment, and leaving the facility,” Fortson said. 

Fortson said staff and volunteers were warm and courteous and made her feel at ease. She overheard conversations. Some people saying they never liked getting a shot, one saying, “I can’t wait to hold my grandchildren again."

Fortson-Smith described how she was ushered in, then guided to her place, asked to sit down and what for her turn.

"A National Guard approached me and asked me some questions," Fortson-Smith said. "I made my second appointment and got my vaccination card.”

The next person came with the cart of shots and supplies. 

"I was told the vaccine name and it was administered,' Fortson-Smith said. "She gave me my shot and I had to wait 15 minutes just to make sure I was ok.” 

While their experiences were good, each had side effects, one mild, one less mild. But each was fine overall and could go through with the rest of the day.

“The one exception that was unfortunate was I had a reaction to the vaccine. Two to three minutes after, my left arm became severely numb, along with the rest of my left side, ” Fortson said. "There was a RN and doctor that observed me for 45 minutes.” 

Fortson was reassured that this was not a reaction that would cause any issues from her receiving the second dose. She was a little ambivalent but she is receiving the second injection.

Fortson-Smith did not have any severe side effects like those Fortson experienced. 

“My arm was a little sore but other than that I was ok,” Fortson-Smith said. 

They're both scheduled to receive their second shot in April, and each is looking forward to the changes vaccination will make.

They want to get back to the office, their friends, to be able to get together with loved ones, and again, finally, to be at ease.