- Kathryn (not her real name) is a nurse in the Indianapolis metro area administering vaccines.
- Kathryn uses her paid time off to volunteer and has even been able to give her son the vaccine.
- This is her story, as told to freelance writer Meira Gebel.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Kathryn (not her real name) is a registered nurse in the Indianapolis metro area. She spoke anonymously out of concern for her privacy. Her identity has been verified by Insider.
I’ve been a registered nurse for over 30 years, and it’s been the most rewarding experience. My hospital opened its first vaccine clinic in December, and I started volunteering right away.
I don’t remember the first vaccine I gave, but I remember the very first day I volunteered – I was so nervous.
In my current role, I don’t give a lot of vaccinations. I made sure to read up on all the vaccine types and reminded myself how to properly administer one by watching the videos the hospital provided us. I’ve found that the more I do, the better I am.
The first group to receive the vaccine were people in their 80s and 90s. I remember them being so grateful and appreciative. Many of them were so relieved because they’d had to truly isolate from their loved ones for nearly an entire year.
The next group were the healthcare workers – that’s when I was able to get vaccinated as well.
The majority of people are extremely emotional.
A lot of people are very nervous – but we take time with each of them, reassure them, and walk them through the process and the side effects.
Last weekend, I was able to give my son the vaccine, which was such a relief. He volunteered to work at the clinic, and at first I was worried because being around so many people filtering in and out could have put him at risk. But now, knowing he has the first dose, I feel so much better as a parent knowing he’ll be safe.
The only negative experience I had was when one person came in and said that they were only there because their family was making them, and that they didn’t want to know about the side effects or any additional information.
My hospital’s vaccination site is small, but we do an average of 400 to 600 vaccinations each day.
As a nurse, there were a couple of volunteer jobs I qualified for – one of them was doing the inoculations and the other was preparing the vaccines.
Our clinic offers both Pfizer and Moderna, which require reconstituting the vials (diluting them with a solution) and pulling the medication through the syringes.
Volunteers work an average of four to six hours, and I do about 100 vaccinations per shift.
Most of the people at the vaccination clinic are volunteers. We have a couple of paid volunteers, but everybody there is doing it because it’s nice to be part of that solution rather than just seeing the horror stories in the hospital.
I volunteer on the weekend, and also use my paid time off to volunteer during the week. I try to volunteer two or three times a week. Since I’ve been working at the hospital for so long, I have a comfortable amount of PTO, which I don’t mind using because I enjoy volunteering.
At our clinic, people pre-register online for their appointment and a volunteer greets them at the entrance to check them in.
They’re then moved right to the vaccination area, where they sit down in a private area with a nurse to read over the vaccine information. We ask them a few questions about whether they’ve contracted COVID-19 previously or if they’re having similar symptoms, and then we talk about the possible side effects of the vaccine.
Once the vaccine is administered, they wait in the 15-minute observation area and then register to receive their second dose. Everyone’s in and out in about 30 minutes.
A typical shift is very busy, with patients coming in and out right after one another. The clinic provides all volunteers with PPE and everything is spaced out to comply with social distancing.
People receiving the vaccine are not in a large room with others, but in a private area, one-on-one with a nurse. I always think I’ll be able to count how many vaccinations I do in a day, but the shift goes by so quickly because of how efficient the clinic is at getting people in and out.
In my experience, Indiana’s registration website is better than most other states.
Demand for the vaccine is high, and I know some friends and family who’ve had trouble finding appointments. Some of my family members have chosen to volunteer at a vaccination site in hopes there will be leftover vaccines at the end of the day.
At our hospital, if there are leftovers, we vaccinate the volunteers. There are typically a small number of leftover vaccines at the end of every day that always go to the unvaccinated volunteers first. But it can be scary to be a volunteer – being out in the public for an extended amount of time puts you at risk of exposure to the virus.
Before the pandemic, I worked as a diabetes educator.
But when cases started to quickly rise, many of the nurses in my hospital were re-trained as in-patient nurses to assist with COVID-19 patients and overflow care.
It was an emotional time, and it was terrifying. We were all afraid of taking the virus home to our families.
I’m so thankful to be giving the vaccine. It’s amazing that we’ve been able to administer it so quickly and that it’s safe.
As healthcare workers, we understand receiving the vaccine can be a nerve-racking experience. But I believe it’s so important, and we want as many people to come in as possible because the sooner we’re able to put shots in arms, the sooner we’ll be safer as a community.
I want people to know that when you walk into a vaccination clinic, you’ll be taken care of.