My Husband’s Experience Getting The First Dose Of The COVID-19 Vaccine

I am so grateful that Josh was able to get priority access to the vaccine. It has been a little over 24 hours since his first dose and I wanted to share what the process was like for him to prescreen, book, and get the vaccine. A little background in case you are new here. We live in Maricopa County, Arizona and Josh is a firefighter.

Our family knows so many people who have been impacted by COVID. Some have had minor cold and flu like symptoms or no symptoms at all, others have been put on ventilators, and many are still dealing with lingering symptoms months after being infected. Sadly some of these people have passed away.

I think all of us can agree that there are many differing opinions on getting the vaccine. Over the last few months Josh and I have had these types of discussion between ourselves. Many of these conversations also involved if I should get the vaccine. I had GuillainBarre Syndrome in my 20’s and there has been conflicting information if this vaccine would be contraindicated.

When I found out Josh would be able to schedule a vaccine in December I was so excited. Anything that we could do to protect him, our family, and those in our community I was all on board for. Josh said he would get the vaccine if I wanted him to but wasn’t planning to sign up for it at this time. That left me in a weird spot. I totally wanted him to be vaccinated but also really wanted it to be his choice. I began to drop hints, shared stories of other people we knew who were getting it, and hoped he would just sign up for it on his own.

He didn’t.

PRESCREENING, AZDHS ACCOUNT SETUP, & SCHEDULING

So several weeks ago when the state was in the middle of Phase 1A and only vaccinating healthcare workers I told him I really wanted him to get it. He did the online prescreening and we waited. Then several days before Phase 1A was going to end he got an email confirmation that said he could schedule his vaccine. He was on shift at the time so I did the account setup on AZDHS and booked his appointment.

Again I am grateful and so thankful to all involved that he has been able to be a part of this process. But the website is a little tricky to navigate. I had to try several different browsers, Chrome is what worked, before I could setup his account. Once the account was setup I was able to use Safari to schedule. This entire process to setup the account and schedule took an hour.

GETTING THE COVID-19 VACCINATION IN MARICOPA COUNTY

He got his first shot yesterday. It was also the day that our county moved into Phase 1B. Here is what his experience was like.

He arrived 15 minutes early for his appointment and here was the line in front of him.

For check-in he showed a QR code he received with his appointment confirmation, drivers license and also his employee identification.

The line moved quickly. Everyone stays in their car for the entire process and is masked at all times. There were multiple tents setup in two parking lots. One group of tents at one end of the parking lot which was for administering the vaccine and on the other side of the parking lot was another set of tents for volunteers monitoring for medical issues and to hand out follow up information. There was security monitoring the line and the National Guard was there assisting also.

Several firefighters in his department were assisting with check-in and he was vaccinated by a captain from his department (and coincidentally from his current station assignment). In case you are wondering he was administered the Pfizer vaccine.

He said the flu shot hurt worse and he experienced no stinging or burning when he received the vaccine. After he was vaccinated he drove his car into another line where he waited for 15 minutes. Easy peasy. He was instructed to leave the windows down and honk to alert those working if he had any complications.

In total the entire process took around 30 minutes. Which is fantastic! There was no waiting around in line, everyone was masked and in their own vehicle, and it is great that this part of the process is so streamlined. Now we just wait to get an email to schedule his second dose.

HOW IS HE FEELING AFTER 24 HOURS

Several hours after his shot he said his arm felt slightly bruised. It didn’t hurt or ache but just felt tender depending on how he moved his arm. And it was only localized to that one area. This morning the injection site is slightly more sore but nothing major.

Getting Josh vaccinated was the choice we made for our family. If Josh had been adamant about not getting the vaccine he wouldn’t have been vaccinated yesterday. There is so much misinformation out there about the vaccine even among healthcare workers.

Yesterday I was asking him questions about his experience getting vaccinated as we were eating lunch in our backyard and watching the kids play. He told me when I wrote this post to include that he initially wasn’t ready to get the vaccine when it was first offered to him. Stories like this are important and need to be shared. If you are a healthcare worker and weren’t vaccinated in Phase 1A but would like to do so you still can.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Yesterday evening I got a message from my Grandpa asking if I could help him figure out the registration system for getting vaccinated. My grandparents are in their 80’s and we have only seen them handful of times in their driveway in the past 10 months. He had been trying all day to register himself and my Grandma. We had told them if they needed help to call us.

I listened to how he had tried to register I told him he had done everything I would have tried. I saw an option on Josh’s account to register additional family members and told him we could try that. Thirty minutes later I had entered all their information along with insurance I.D’s., scheduled them both for appointments at the same time, and sent them their email confirmations. If you have already made an account on AZDHS and have family members who are having trouble scheduling or even accessing the website you might be able to book an appointment for them.

All in all yesterday was a good day for our family. Josh received his first dose and my Grandparents are now scheduled for theirs. I am feeling hopeful that in several months we will be able to spend more time together. Our plan is to remain masked when we do these visits and stay outdoors but I am looking forward to the kids being able to see their Great Grandparents for an actual visit as opposed to being in the car.

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This Week. Ugh.

This week has been exhausting, horrible, and so sad. It has been horrific what has happened in the span of a few days.

President Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Ratffensperger asking him to overturn the the state’s election results in the 2020 presidential election, there was a pro-Trump mob that vandalized The Capitol which also resulted in the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, and the United States had a day with 4,000 COVID deaths. Ugh. All of it heartbreaking.

I am still trying to find the good in each day but some days it feels really yucky and so, so sad. Here are a few things that made for a happier week…

JOSH IS GETTING THE COVID VACCINE! I’M SO HAPPY.

Josh is scheduled for his vaccine on Monday. I am seriously so grateful he has the opportunity to get one. We had a bit of a wait to get the email to schedule but once the email arrived we got him scheduled within the hour.

If anyone else is planning to get a vaccine in Arizona the website to schedule was a little finicky. They recommend using Chrome or Firefox. I can tell you from experience to setup his account Firefox and Safari did not work. Chrome was the only browser that allowed for the account setup. Once the account was setup I could use Safari.

I will be sure to update how his experience goes, if you are interested check back on the blog next week.

HOMESCHOOL

I started back up homeschooling the kids on Monday. We got through the week and it felt good to be back on a routine after Christmas break. I am shocked at the amount of material we get through some days and other days I am just thankful we did math and english.

Also looking at their math workbooks makes me feel slightly overwhelmed. I know we will get through all this because we did last semester but it just looks intense. Thankfully Saxon Math provides great outlines for each lesson.

This week we talked about the New Kingdom of Egypt, next week we learn about Moses and the Plagues, the kids started back up their typing program, Maisie is spending 20 minutes a day on ReadingEggs.com, and we went on another long family walk. All in all homeschooling made this week brighter and much more structured.

APPLE FITNESS+

I got to try out a workout on the Apple Fitness+ platform. I could have done this sooner but I am horrible at updating my watch and phone. Josh finally encouraged me to do the update so I could try a workout. And I am so glad he did. It was so fun!

My little guys did the workout with me and that made it extra entertaining and encouraging. They were telling me good job every 10 seconds and we were all giving high fives to each other after each round. At the end of the workout my three year old said “My legs are shaking”.

Once I use it more I will give a full review. But for having just done one workout I really enjoyed it.

And those are a few positives from a pretty sad week in the United States. Hang in their friends! Keep taking care of yourselves this month. Eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water, try to get more sleep, and if it is nice where you live spend sometime each day outside.

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Our Experience Being A Firefighter Family Living In Arizona During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Thanks for stopping by the blog today and reading. This has been a post I have been wanting to write for the last several weeks. The last time I wrote on this topic was back in March. My husband Josh is a firefighter and has been on the department for over 12 years. I hope this gives you some insight on what our family has been experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local fire departments are starting to report more COVID positive test results among it’s members. Phoenix Fire is reporting 62 positive COVID-19 cases among firefighters and another 100 currently quarantined during the testing process, awaiting their results.

Let me start by saying you could have 10 families within the fire department write their thoughts and experiences down and get 10 varying answers. This post is based on our own experience.

Our family has been a self contained unit since March. We have not spent time with extended family members other then quick driveway visits from the car. Same goes for any in person interaction with friends. For reference we have an 8, 6, 3, and 3 year old. Three of our kids have had birthdays during this time. We celebrated their birthday’s at home. No friends, no extended family over, just the six of us.

We have been ordering our groceries online and picking them up curbside. Not any different from how we were doing things pre-pandemic to be honest. With 4 kids I am so thankful for curbside pickup! We haven’t eaten at any restaurants since February. This feels super crazy typing out because it is the longest period of time we have ever done this in our almost 13 years of marriage. 

The 4th quarter of school was done at home. Our kids missed their teachers and friends so much but we made the best of the situation and I feel like we did it fairly well.

Church is being done in our living room. Our church has been doing a great job at providing resources for us and our kids during this time to worship at home. 

But while we have been doing everything possible to limit our footprint outside our home so many others are not. Our state has more cases currently daily then we did during our stay at home order.

When Your Child Realizes What Dad Does For Work…

We always knew our kids would one day realize that Dad’s job is dangerous. He doesn’t just get to ride in a really cool fire truck but he actually fights fires. Fire burns. In this moment we knew part of their innocence would be chipped away as they realized Dad could get hurt at work. 

When Josh was a few months graduated out of the fire academy and in his first rotation, we went to a Christmas party with the crew he was working with. We had been married a year at this point, and I was super excited to meet the other wives. I listened to them talk about this exact topic and filed it away for later. I knew when the time came I would have the best speech planned for this conversation with our own kids. 

My breath caught in my throat one night two months ago when we were putting our oldest to bed. After saying prayers Josh told him he would be going to work in the morning. 

In the moment something clicked and Caden realized that Dad would be around other people who might be sick. It was heartbreaking. I always thought we would have this conversation in regards to fire. I had a great speech prepared, thanks to listening to that conversation years ago, about how daddy trains to be careful during fires and why we are so thankful he works with a crew that truly has each other’s best interest at heart. 

And while that last part remains true about his crew, no fire department has been trained for how to operate during a pandemic. Firefighters fight fires, run medical calls, and are there for the community in any and all emergencies. Everyone is learning as they go and trying to implement the best known practices to keep crews and patients safe. 

We are beyond grateful for this job that Josh wanted for so long and that pays our bills. But for the first time in Josh’s career, his job has concerned me. There are so many unknowns. At least with a fire you have protocol to follow. You train for fire. Firefighters don’t train for a pandemic. I don’t want my husband, family, or his coworkers to get burned by this.

We let our son know Dad is taking every precaution he can at work. And honestly that is all we could say.

Limiting Exposure To COVID-19 At Work & Home

My husband comes into contact with numerous people at work and because of that interaction we are doing several things at home to limit any virus exposure to our family. 

Our house gets disinfected several times a week. Josh isn’t sharing any of his food or drink with myself or the kids, though he will still eat any remaining food on our plates ;). He immediately showers and changes his clothes when he arrives home from shift. Shoes are left in the garage and sprayed down before they are brought into the house. He is wearing a mask at work and physically distancing in the station (this is now part of the standard operating procedure). Cell phone, keys, and steering wheel are wiped off also. 

COVID-19 Testing

University of Arizona is currently doing a wide scale study of COVID-19 with first responders and Josh was able to get the antibody test through the study. He had the test in May and tested negative. The tests results came with two pages of information basically saying that he could still be a COVID-19 carrier even with the negative result.

Fast forward to the end of June and he had a known contact with a positive case at work. While he has had known contact with COVID patients at work before, this time the exposure was from another firefighter. Thankfully Josh was able to get a test and two days later the negative results came back. Again the negative results came with information saying that even though he tested negative it might not mean he is actually negative. Only that at the time of testing, if he was infected, he didn’t have enough viral load to confirm.

Not everyone is having a two day turn around time like Josh did. One of our family members was tested on the same day as Josh but it took him just shy of two weeks to get his negative result back. Two weeks! That is such a long time. 

The downside to all this is that it took Josh several days to be informed about the exposure. Time that we as a family could have also been exposed as well. And had we been out and about in the community we very easily could have given it to others. It is great that more people are able to be tested in Arizona but the results are taking so long. And due to various HIPAA laws some organizations have their hands tied in exactly how much information they can share. It is just all really frustrating.

We can only control what our family is doing to keep everyone in our household healthy. Beyond that, it is up to others in our community to help keep my husband and other essential workers safe. At this point in time it doesn’t seem like that is happening. Driving around town you would never know that our hospitals are almost at capacity due to COVID-19. 

How Many People Do We Know With COVID-19

In the last two weeks we can count 10 people that we know who have COVID. Thankfully the majority have had mild cases so far, but a few are still feeling the effects even after being deemed “recovered”. They are still suffering from breathing issues and fatigue. Currently one of those is prone on a vent and fighting for his life. 

Our youngest son has asthma and is on 4 different medications to help monitor his breathing. We don’t know what COVID would do to him. Maybe he would have a mild case, but that is a gamble we don’t want to take. We aren’t living in fear but we are living cautiously. We have read up on all the best ways to protect our home and keep Josh safe at work and are putting those things into the practice, the rest we know is in the Lord’s hands. 

This time period has been especially eye opening in regards to friendships. We hear and read the opinions of our friends and peers on this topic. People who we might have normally reached out to for support are approaching this as a hoax or think it is a complete over reaction. It is hard. It hurts at times. Not really sure there is much more to say on that. It just sucks. 

I am hopeful this will get better and I believe it will at some point. But until it does we will be staying home.

The kids and I miss going to see Josh at work, eating Deena-balls (a yummy treat with oreos and cream cheese that his crew member makes), and sitting in the truck pretending to go on a call. The fire department is one big extended family and we are so thankful our kids get to grow up with these experiences and we are looking forward to the day they can happen again. I love my husband and I am so proud of the work he, and his crew, and department are doing right now.

On The Sunny Side of Things…(And It is Really Sunny & Hot In Arizona Right Now)

On a positive note, we have spent so much time with our kids! And I really do mean that in the best way. I was spending an average of 4 hours a day in the car driving kids to and from school and it has been amazing to have more time at home. We have been potty training our littlest ones. Yay for potty training when you don’t have to drive anywhere! And all the mama’s said, AMEN! And we have been playing so many board and card games. 

Even though we haven’t spent time with family in person we have been using technology to our advantage. We have played board games with our family via zoom and been able to see each other for birthdays. 

We are eating healthier because we aren’t eating out. So yay! I have been able to workout consistently since April and we completed our garage gym, I will share details on that soon. Josh did an amazing job organizing all our equipment in one central location.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to write and how much to share especially on this topic. Thank you all so much for reading! I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read what our family has been experiencing.

xo, Tamara

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