Denise Lewis: A Shot of Hope

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For Denise Lewis, the COVID vaccine she administers is a shot of hope to both her clients and herself.

I emptied the vial. Now I had 20 little syringes on the table. I lined them up before me like a row of tiny soldiers. I was ready.

The cars started arriving hours before we opened. The volunteers outside had been busy all morning, directing traffic like ground crews on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

“Are you here for a vaccine? Okay, park here.” “Here to volunteer? Park there.”

The doors to the corona‐vaccine clinic for the county of Marin were opening. We were ready for our first clients of the day.

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I’m a nurse. When I heard about the vaccine clinic opening, I couldn’t wait to volunteer to vaccinate. All the energy I’d been wasting stewing about politics and the pandemic could finally be directed. I could volunteer! When friends asked: “Aren’t you worried about getting COVID?” I told them I was more worried about not being part of the response, more worried about not getting those vaccines into arms as quickly as possible.

I knew when the first wave of clients had finished signing in, and were coming down the long hallway to the vaccination stations, because the volunteers directing traffic started to cheer. The clients responded — hooting, cheering, dancing — not a response I’ve ever experienced with any of my patients getting shots in the past. They entered our room grinning.

My clients sat at my station with the same smiles on their faces, and began thanking me. They thanked me for volunteering, though I feel it’s my privilege to help them, to help end this pandemic, arm by arm.
They thanked me because soon, they’d be able to see their children, their grandparents, their friends. They told me of the hugs they were exploding to give, of the grandchildren they were aching to hold.

And they cried. Cried because, as dozens told me, now they had hope. They had hope that there was a light at the end of this long dark year. Hope that despite years of failing national politics our little county government was alive and working hard to help.

I looked down at my row of syringes, each holding 0.3cc’s of hope, relief and happiness. Arm by arm we’ll get this done together.

With a Perspective, this is Denise Lewis.

Denise Lewis is a retired nurse with Marin County Medical Volunteers.