As I hopped out of my Lyft at 7th and Market Street and turned the corner toward the LightHouse headquarters in San Francisco, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. It had been months, nearly a year since I’d last entered this building. As I reached for the door handle of the front entrance, I was welcomed in by a friendly face. The man asked kindly, “Here for the clinic?” to which I replied, “Absolutely!”
After being directed towards the elevators I stepped in and pressed the button for the 10th floor. The door opened to the familiar sound of the automated announcer, “10th floor, LightHouse Main Reception.” I stepped into the lobby and was greeted by friendly, masked volunteers. I looked around and noted the many people in line, spaced at a safe distance apart from one another, patiently awaiting their turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
When I joined the line, a nurse approached me and asked my name and birthdate. She found my vaccination card in the stack of other names scheduled to be vaccinated that day. She assisted me in filling out a pre-vaccine medical form. (Do I have any allergies? Have I received any vaccines within the past 14 days? Etc.) After completing the form, I waited for my turn to be taken into Multipurpose Room B, where there were three vaccination stations set up.
When it was my turn, I was directed to the available station. I rolled up my left sleeve as a very kind and friendly nurse walked me through the process. I turned my cheek away from my left shoulder as I received the vaccine. (Needles make me queasy!)
When I sat down in the post-vaccine waiting area adjacent to the vaccination stations, it hit me. For two years I would come to this building every day. Working with the blind community, my community, has always been important and enjoyable for me. On March 13, 2020 we were told that LightHouse would be closed for two weeks due to the onset of COVID-19 cases increasing in the area. Two weeks turned into 56 weeks (and counting) and the “increasing number of COVID-19 cases” turned into a global pandemic. Through the past thirteen months of confusion, devastation, and fear, here I was, one year later in the same place where I had first learned of the severity of this disease, receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. It was emotional. It was hopeful. It was a triumph. The experience felt surreal.
I want to express my sincere gratitude to all the nurses, volunteers, and all of those responsible for giving LightHouse the opportunity to become a vaccination site. With the help and coordination of many LightHouse and San Francisco Public Health employees, I am proud to say that not only was I vaccinated, but the nonprofit I work for, the work in which I hold so dear, was able to provide yet another accessible and vitally important service to our community.