Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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Sara Rubin here, writing with a pleasantly sore upper arm. Although technically I do not become eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination in Monterey County until Thursday, based on my age and occupation, a mass clinic in Salinas this weekend opened up to everyone 16 and older after hundreds of no-shows on Saturday. I was in the right place at the right time (specifically on my couch, scrolling through my phone) to get an appointment for Sunday afternoon. 

And thus I joined the ranks of 7,889 Monterey County residents who got a shot at Everett Alvarez High School this weekend at a clinic run by Natividad. It was a remarkably efficient experience, with multiple lines for two stages of check-in, then a gymnasium of numbered chairs and nurses to administer the jab itself. 

I was quickly directed to chair #11, where an ER nurse named Patty asked me which arm I preferred, asked me about allergies, told me not to worry and gave me the shot. She was friendly and attentive despite being nearly 12 hours into her day, for the second day in a row of jabbing people’s arms—but the hardest part, she told me, was that in the ER, they’re used to moveable equipment that raises and lowers patients. In this gym setting with patients seated in chairs, the constant bending down was wearing on her back.

Then we were ushered on to another gymnasium full of widely spaced chairs for 15 minutes of post-shot observation. Nurses wheeled around blood pressure cuffs and distributed bottles of water to anyone with concerns, while others walked around with a laminated QR code—I scanned it with my phone while sitting there and booked my follow-up shot, for three weeks out. 

I feel a sense of great relief, on my way to Covid-19 immunity after a year-plus of sheltering in place. The light at the end of the tunnel is finally visible to me at a personal level. 

It was my first time ever participating in a mass vaccination event. I’ll be back in three weeks for my next shot, but I’m hopeful that that’s the last time I attend one. It was efficient and the staff were friendly, despite starting at 6:30am two days in a row. But it was weird—a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie, hundreds of masked strangers lining up in a parking lot on a sunny Sunday afternoon, being moved from station to station for an injection. 

As I left with my vaccination card, walking through the lovely Alvarez campus with its outdoor amphitheater and outdoor picnic tables, I thought: Teenagers belong in these spaces, talking and studying and flirting and eating, not a bunch of masked adults keeping our distance and clutching our new vaccination cards, our tickets to something resembling “normal.” At least Monterey County is now 7,889 people closer to normal. 

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