When Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that as of March 31, all residents over the age of 16 were eligible to receive the vaccine, I was determined to book an appointment at the earliest date possible.

That was easier said than done.

I checked nearly every pharmacy in a 10-mile radius, and the earliest available appointments weren’t until May.

Purdue announced that it would be opening its vaccine clinic on Tuesday. As someone hoping to schedule both doses before the end of the semester, this was a relief. And it saved me the drive to a clinic!

After you’ve booked an appointment, you should get an email confirming your appointment. The site then directs you to an optional early check-in form where you provide your insurance information, address and other personal information.

I highly recommend checking in early. It streamlines the process before you even enter the Co-Rec.

Also, even though you’re asked to provide insurance information, this step is optional, and the vaccine is free.

My scheduled first dose was Tuesday afternoon on the clinic’s opening day. According to a Purdue spokesperson, I was one of more than 2,000 people to be vaccinated on opening day.

When I arrived, I was directed to a table where I checked in and confirmed my identity. From there, I was shown to a second room where the vaccine was administered.

When I got the vaccine, it felt like every other shot. I am terrified of vaccines, but the woman administering it made the process quick, easy and relatively painless. They then filled out my information and put down the label on my vaccine card. The entire process was efficient.

I was asked to wait 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to make sure that there were no immediate side effects. After the wait, another volunteer helped me schedule the second dose.

Since Purdue is administering only Pfizer vaccines, the recommended time frame between first and second dose is 21 days. My second dose is scheduled for April 27.

I recommend trying to get vaccinated this weekend. I tried to align my schedule such that I would get the second dose during Dead Week. I’ve heard that the second dose can induce more intense side effects, so I didn’t want to be dealing with those during Finals Week.

It didn’t take long for the first round of side effects to set in. As soon as I walked back to my dorm I was drowsy. I was also running a low-grade fever, had a splitting headache and my arm hurt.

It’s important not to freak out if you start experiencing mild side effects. Everything I felt was described as normal on the CDC’s website. Purdue’s vaccine staff recommended taking ibuprofen for the pain and fever, but since I’m allergic to the medicine I decided to tough it out. If you’re in a similar situation, Tylenol will do just fine.

The side effects were short-lived.

I was already feeling better by the time I went to bed, and within 24 hours, the only pain was mild soreness in my arm.

I’m feeling great otherwise, and was able to take a midterm in the morning with no issues.

Even so, it’s important to wear a mask, social distance and sanitize your hands frequently to reduce potential transmission. Getting vaccinated does not necessarily mean that you can’t be a carrier, which means that even with both doses, people around you that aren’t vaccinated are still at risk.

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