Calling this past year a long and arduous one is quite the understatement, but with President Biden’s most recent move to open up vaccinations to a broader demographic, hope is finally on the horizon. According to CDC statistics, as of Mar. 30, about a third of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. As production and distribution continues to ramp up, we’re all looking to hit herd immunity as soon as physically possible.
In Los Angeles County, where I currently am, inoculation efforts are chugging along, and about half of our most vulnerable populations are full vaxxed. Due to storms in Texas delaying vaccine shipments, Los Angeles hasn’t exactly had the smoothest distribution process, but they’re back on track and making significant progress. I had the opportunity to visit a vaccination site near the neighborhood of Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles, and talk to some of the people there about their post-vaxx hopes and dreams for themselves, their communities, and the country over the next year.
We air-high-fived (because we don’t know if real high-fives are safe yet — CDC, any thoughts?), air-hugged, smiled through our masks, laughed, cried, and celebrated our progress along the way. I can sincerely say that I’ll never forget what I gleaned from our conversation. Here are their (and surprise, my) stories.
As soon as I got vaccinated, I went to some fancy restaurants. I needed the ambiance. It helped me start my food critic blog page on Instagram. I have also been doing a little stand-up comedy again!
In the next year, I’m hoping to get back to some sense of normalcy. I think during quarantine we had a synthetic normalcy, but moving forward it will be about establishing the new, old normal. I want to have a free, normal life again: Do more stand-up, get back to acting, and go to more restaurants.
I want all people to have a much better notion of safety. I hope America took time to reflect on what the pandemic meant for them. We’re redefined as a nation now, so I hope people use it for positive growth.
I thought I was going to get COVID from work — I’m a teacher — or going out to bike meetups, but I got it at home from my mom, who got it from her healthcare service provider. She’s 74 and has all of the underlying conditions. I actually came to this site to get tested, and now I work here.
They want to make sure that we’re safe at work, so they gave me the first shot on my first day. Even though I have the antibodies from having COVID, I have two kids, and I want to make sure they and everyone around them are safe, which is why I decided to not only get the vaccine but also come work for a vaccination team.
I have a great job because I get to see the faces of people and how happy and relieved they are when they get the vaccine. They genuinely appreciate it so much. I feel like we’re helping to get everyone up and moving again. I’ve heard everything from, “Now I can see my grandma again,” to, “This is the only time I could get the vaccine because I have to work in a job that’s really risky.”
I lost five neighbors to COVID, so for me it was important that all of the elderly people who aren’t as mobile or are homebound get vaccinated. In their situations, two blocks might as well be 2,000 miles, so getting people to that second vaccine appointment has been a godsend.
My biggest hope is that we can continue to get kids back into school so that parents who have to take care of their kids at home right now can go back to work. It’s been a ripple effect, and I know how much some of the kids are struggling because I still substitute teach on virtual teaching channels. The families who are struggling the most are the families whose parents can’t work remotely.
For me, getting vaccinated didn’t mean that now I could go out and be risky. It was more of a protection for myself because I’m working here and giving out the vaccine. I’ve helped distribute thousands of shots throughout the time I’ve been here.
I don’t want people to start going out right now because there’s still a risk. If we want to make sure that we’ll eventually get our lives back and life will be normal again, we should follow the CDC guidelines and play by the book. I want to make sure everyone is protected and safe, which is the bottom line for me.
As pharmacists distributing the vaccine, we want to make sure that everyone is well-educated about the safety of it. People are always going to give pushback, but there’s always an answer to that pushback. With vaccines, there are always benefits and risks that we have to assess, and I think a lot of the pushback is from people who don’t have the full education and scientific background of what we have here. We’re professionals. We learn about the data, research, and findings every day, and we’re here to help everyone else.
There’s a lot of fear that’s been going around in the media, but we just want the best for people. If you have any questions about the vaccine, please reach out to your physicians, nurses, and pharmacists. They have the best answers for you.
I just got the first dose today, and now I have to take care of myself and wait for the other one. When I get the other one, I have to continue to be safe. I’m hoping everything goes back to normal.
I’m a valet driver, and I can’t go back to work until everything is normal. I work at Staples Center, and that’s where I make my money. Hopefully all goes well with this new president and our country can get back on the right track again.
I’m about to go visit my boyfriend. We both recently got vaccinated, so it’s the first thing I’m going to do.
In the next year, I highly doubt life is going to go back to 100 percent normalcy, but I do look forward to seeing the people who I had to put off seeing and going to a few more places now that it’s a little safer. I think the majority of people who I hang around with are also getting vaccinated, so I’m just looking forward to the social aspect returning.
I think I need to break up with my boyfriend. I got into a relationship for the sake of comfort, like an “If the world is ending, I don’t want to be alone” sort of relationship. My boyfriend works in tech in San Francisco, and I’m a painter who lives near Silver Lake. I don’t really see our relationship going anywhere. I’m feeling like an 18-year-old twink again, anyway, ready to hoe around.
After this year, I would hope that people still feel a sense of political and social commitment to one another. I don’t want whatever amount of progress that’s been made in the past year to erode with a complete return to hedonism or capitalist gluttony.
It would be cool to see an emphasis still being placed on some sort of collectivism. I mean what’s going on in Echo Park right now seems like it’s kind of a clear indication that at least some people will be committed to collectivism, but I don’t know if it will continue on a wide scale.
I’m actually going to be able to travel for work. I’m going to Boston next Wednesday. I’m a technical support service engineer, and I just restarted my job. It’s been out for a year and a half. I hope to continue and be more productive. I hope anti-vaxxers come around to getting the vaccine so we can put a stop to COVID.
After I leave today, I’m going to celebrate! Initially, I was so nervous about getting the vaccine, but now so many people have gotten COVID and the virus has been going on for so long that I decided to do it.
My entire family has already gotten the vaccine too. I’m the last one to get it. After seeing all of them get it, I decided to jump on the train, and now I’m really excited about it. In the next year, I hope that this pandemic is over and we can open our city and the country back up again. We’re ready! We’re so over it already, and we all hate being stuck inside the house.
Thank God I’m still working, but a lot of people I know aren’t. A lot of my family members have lost their jobs. I’m just ready for all of us to get back to normal life.
I can’t wait to live freely again! I’m so excited to have everything go back to normal. I hope my child can go back to school. I hope everyone can be well again and that we won’t lose so many lives anymore.
Ally (me!), 27
I’ve never been so excited to get a shot in my entire life; the incredible nurses here surprised me by offering me one after I'd interviewed a bunch of people on site.
I’m also hyped because my friends and family have been receiving their doses as well. Personally, I can’t wait to run marathons, travel the world, go to concerts and out dancing with my friends, talk to interesting people at bars and restaurants, shop in stores, volunteer in person in my communities, and see peoples’ smiles without masks on again! I also can’t wait to hug people, and before the pandemic, I never liked hugs.
I’m grateful to all of the front line heroes who have been keeping us going over the past year, not only health care workers (shoutout to my Mom, my friend Ericka, and so many others) but also grocery store, food, agriculture, transportation, emergency service, government, community-based, energy, manufacturing, and water management workers. I can't wait for them to get to live their best lives now, too.
I’m also extremely grateful to teachers and other school staff (especially my aunts and my cousin Sierra) as well, because as we found out but should have always recognized, you are extremely essential. I’m eternally grateful to my roommates, both dog and human, every single person I’ve FaceTimed for hours, running, and nature for providing me with outlets to help control my anxiety and keep my spirits up this past year. Being vaxxed will help me stay connected to them in more ways.
While we know there’s a lot of work to be done in this country, I feel a renewed sense of hope today. I’ll definitely blast music in my Subaru all the way back to my apartment, and then I’ll get back to work, telling and uplifting the important stories.