When the pandemic began, my top criteria to feel comfortable with travel outside of my bubble was to be vaccinated. Fast forward to the one-year anniversary of covid-19 lockdown and it feels like my hometown community is further from the finish-line than when we started. The number of local cases is at its highest and the city I’m proud to call home is the global leader in active covid-19 variant cases; plus these variants are now affecting those my age. There is a fear mentality in my community as the main vaccine (that is inconsistently) available is the Astrazeneca which has the unfair reputation of “death by blood clots.” Healthcare workers are not all vaccinated, our community is craving connection, and we are entering another lockdown, with no clear end-date in sight.
Despite the gloom of the one-year anniversary, the stars seem to continue aligning for my athletic journey. The 2021 Olympic Games are still scheduled to happen, Nationals/ Trials in Montreal are scheduled, and if Canada can flatten the curve, there is a small chance for a partial national race series in Canada. Additionally, I received confirmation I can travel/ compete as part of my work to become an Olympic Athlete, and a huge thanks to Sask Athletics and Sask Sport for finding the funding to facilitate camps and training this year. Before the rush of Canadian’s headed South to the American border for races, I also found out, if I was willing to travel internationally for a camp, I could potentially get both doses of the publicly available Pfizer vaccine while abroad. The travel would come with a price tag, but it is allowed.
Would you, do it?!
My answer is yes. I did. I made the decision to travel for warm weather training with the hope I would also come home vaccinated. Plus, I would alleviate the stress and worry of future travels that are expected in my role as an athlete. I told my family, and my team at work. The decision was made quickly, and we found a way to make the training and quarantine time work. With many mixed emotions, I boarded a solo international flight, hopeful, excited, afraid, and sad to be leaving the cocoon of comfort my covid-19 bubble has provided.
I’ll admit, being in an international airport was overwhelming and I felt immense culture-shock upon arrival. I saw more people that I have seen in the last year combined. Folks were still wearing masks, hand sanitizer is readily available in most places, but many people (who want one) have already received their first vaccine in Arizona. The mentality is not fear of getting covid-19, it’s more along the lines of what was your experience when one get’s covid-19. This was very startling to observe and overhear this casual dialogue from passer-by’s. The luxury of travelling solo made distancing easier, and I was able to go straight to my accommodations where I could isolate, sanitize, lysol my bags, and shower before settling in.
Upon receipt of my first vaccine, I was surprised at the relief I felt. I didn’t realize how important reaching this benchmark was to me. I understand until a majority are vaccinated, a covid-19 lifestyle of protocols, mask-wearing, bubbles, and more will be expected but the relief and hope that replaced some of the fear and stress built up from the last year made my decision worth it. Who knew a small card my name, dates, and vaccine administration could bring such joy! Other than 24-hour stiffness in my arm, I didn’t experience any other symptoms and was able to resume my training block as planned. Win-Win.
There is still a lot of collective work to be done to flatten the curve, but I am grateful to share what feels like a day of progress in the completion of Operation Vaccination! For now, back to my bubble, training, work, and races to continue preparing the next steps of (fingers crossed) the 2021 Summer Season!
Stay Tuned! And Stay Safe!