“Is this your good side?” the Richland County Health Department official asked me.

I guess I did look a little silly, posing while trying hard not to look like I was was posing. I had my sleeve rolled up and I was staring off into the middle ground between the official and my friend and colleague Audra Anderson, who was taking photos.

This was no ordinary photo. Audra was documenting my getting my first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. A minute earlier, I had did the same for her. Audra, Tris Anderson of the News Monitor and myself were among the people getting our first doses Friday, March 19 at the Wahpeton Event Center.

“It was pretty surreal to be there and finally getting the vaccine,” Tris said. “About a year ago, we were actually moving off campus because of COVID-19. I was in my newsroom at the time, putting together the last paper of the quarter before everything shut down.”

Audra and Tris came to the Twin Towns Area from Washington. I’m originally from Michigan. Ever since COVID-19 vaccine began being distributed, we’ve been talking to our loved ones about the states’ different rollout processes.

“I thought it would be months still until we’d get our vaccines. North Dakota is moving fast, a lot faster than I expected. I think a lot of it has to do with the size of the state, but we are simply moving quickly along,” Audra said.

“North Dakota is crushing it,” Tris said.

Richland County provided all sorts of information about the Moderna vaccine, how to register for our second vaccinations and how to keep track of any concerning symptoms. The vaccine was administered directly into our arm muscles.

“It felt like any other shot,” Audra said. “It was fast and relatively painless. The worst part was that for the next couple of days, I felt some minor pain in my arm.”

Tris agreed, saying he felt sore the next day, but it was gone after about 24 hours. We all had gotten our vaccinations on a Friday afternoon and by Saturday night, my arm felt fine.

Once we had received our shots, the three of us went to sit down for 15 minutes. This is done so that help can be close by if anyone has a severe reaction to the shot. My phone had died, so I sat in silence, observing the pseudo social scene among the vaccinated.

“It felt a bit like waiting at the DMV,” Tris said. “We were all waiting for the same thing, watching and making sure we didn’t have a reaction. The most surreal part was watching everyone get checked in, watching it all run very smoothly. People were working together and doing so really well.”

For Audra, getting vaccinated and seeing others do the same was a surprisingly emotional experience.

“I think it was because it’s been a year of watching people come together for a common goal, and here it was coming to fruition,” she said.

“I would never have guessed we’d have gotten the vaccine so soon,” Tris said. “The process was so fast and so easy. I’m still in disbelief to some extent.”

We’ve heard of becoming “blood brothers,” right? Back in the day, little kids would give themselves cuts and touch the wounds together so they’d have a little dose of each other’s blood in their bodies. It’s a disgusting habit and I’m glad it fell out of fashion.

That being said, when Audra, Tris and I got our vaccinations together, I couldn’t help but feel like we sorta shared a blood oath. I hope others will share the same commitment to health and community.

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