The Lancaster Fair Grounds hosted a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic on Friday and everyone had their own reason for getting a jab.
Patrick Dupuis, 65, of Beecher Falls, Vt., wanted to resume life as usual.
“I want to be among people. I want to be able to go where I want, when I want, without a mask,” said Dupuis, who contracted COVID-19 six months ago with serious side effects. “I just want to be certain not to get it again. It’s not a joke.”
Edward Robinson, 75, of Lancaster, sought to preserve domestic bliss.
“I got it because of my wife. I got sick of listening to her,” he said with a laugh, noting his wife had already been vaccinated. She urged him to follow suit, and her persistence paid off. “Finally I said ‘all right.’”
A total of 145 residents of the North Country and Northeast Kingdom received the vaccine during the six-hour-long clinic, a cooperative effort between the North Country Health Consortium and the states of New Hampshire and Vermont.
Participants received a free ticket to the 2021 Lancaster Fair with their shots.
It was another step towards herd immunity in Coos County, which has among New Hampshire’s highest vaccination rates, and Essex County, which has the lowest vaccination rate in Vermont.
John Spicer, a retired family practice doctor from Littleton, was part of the volunteer staff that spent the afternoon sticking people in the shoulder.
“It’s exciting, and actually necessary,” he said in between people. “I wish I could communicate with my old patients to make them aware of how important this is, and how easy it is, and how safe it is.”
He called vaccination a selfless act, and pointed to one Maine resident who got vaccinated despite considerable anxiety, which triggered a panic attack.
“He obviously has issues with immunizations and shots, but he has a young girlfriend with medical issues that would predispose her to a bad outcome if she got COVID. And so he did that for her. That’s huge,” he said.
However, those sorts of emotional reactions are uncommon, and side effects are even rarer.
The majority of people are fine and many walk away from their vaccination with a spring in their step.
“‘I did a couple of clinics in January and February, and those people were just absolutely relieved. You could see it just cross their face as you shot them, even though they knew it would take weeks to have an effect,” he said.
For many, the single-dose, “one and done” Johnson & Johnson vaccine was an appealing solution to the COVID-19 problem.
“I didn’t want to come back again. I wanted to get it over with. Done. And that’s it,” said Karen Naro of Whitefield.
Josh Finkle, a Littleton High School senior, wanted to be vaccinated as quickly as possible ahead of the baseball playoffs and graduation.
“I didn’t want to get two shots because it’s six weeks until you’re fully vaccinated,” he said.
Some said they will continue wearing masks despite being vaccinated, in order to protect others, including young children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
That includes Sue and Steve Faski, both 63, of Carroll. Steve was vaccinated May 1, Sue on Friday. Even so, they won’t toss their face coverings yet. They’ll continue to mask up in public to stop the spread. That includes when they celebrate their 28th anniversary today (Saturday).
“I’ll feel a little safer [being immunized], but I think I’ll still wear my mask for a little while,” Sue said. “Because you don’t know who has COVID and who doesn’t.”
Added Steve, “We don’t like the way they’re lifting the mask mandate so soon. I don’t think it’s appropriate really until we know we’re out of the woods with this.”