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'I feel like there's hope down the line.' How being vaccinated changed this nurse's pandemic outlook

caption: Jamie Williams is a nurse in the greater Seattle area
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Jamie Williams is a nurse in the greater Seattle area
Jamie Williams

Jamie Williams is a nurse in the greater Seattle area who has treated Covid patients since the beginning of the pandemic.

She shared with KUOW how being vaccinated changed her outlook on life for our oral history series, "Voices of the Pandemic."


efore I got the vaccine, I felt worried and hopeless and very, very unsure about the future.

Even if you've gotten through the first part of it relatively unscathed — and haven't experienced a lot of personal loss because of Covid — you kind of feel like at a certain point, it's going to hit you hard somehow.

Someone you care about — someone you're close to — is going to die. You might get sick. You might get someone else sick. You just don't know where the end is to all of this. And when you couple in all of the job losses and economy, it's been awful.

I've gotten both doses of the vaccine, and the person who vaccinated me was delightful. We were chatting, and once I got the first shot, I sort of immediately felt ever so slightly lightheaded. I felt a little weird.

I was sitting there for the 15-minute monitoring, just trying to talk myself through this process. Being a nurse, I was checking my own pulse to make sure it's okay.

The the nurse who was actually doing the monitoring walked by and she had to remind me that she was the nurse today. And I had to just be the patient. You know, we're just notoriously awful at that.

[My lightheadedness] passed and everything was fine.

I went home. And then I had some of the side effects. I felt sort of achy. I had chills.

I had to remind myself that this was indicating that the vaccine was working, which was encouraging and kind of made me feel a little bit stronger somehow.

And then when it came time for my second dose, I was actually a little bit nervous, [asking] "Is it going to be worse this time? Am I gonna pass out in front of all these people?"

I also felt some camaraderie with the people I was in line with, like, "Look at us, we're doing this." It felt really cool to be amongst a group of people that were doing something about Covid.

And actually, the side effects were much milder. So I was kind of worried about nothing.

Now that it's a week later, I feel good. I feel glad to be a part of this. Since I've gotten the vaccine, I feel I feel like there's hope down the line.

I've got family that lives across the country. And if I needed to go see them, which has been very hard to do, obviously, for the last year, I feel like I can do that [now].

[I'd] maintain the same sort of care and thoughtfulness with travel that I would do no matter what, but maybe it's a little bit less risky, maybe I can be there for people if they need me in ways that I haven't really felt like I've been able to for a while. So that's a pretty powerful feeling.

I think knowing that there's a vaccine out there that will eventually be available to everyone [gives me] a tremendous amount of hope.

But that's a cautious optimism. I think there are a lot of people who need to get vaccinated. And so I don't feel all of a sudden, you know that this means that we're invincible that we can do anything.

But at the very least, there's faint light at the very end of this extremely dark tunnel.

We'll get through this and I think it will be better.

Voices of the Pandemic is KUOW's oral history of the Covid era. You can share your story too, using our story submission form.

The Voices of the Pandemic theme song is by Alec Cowan. The audio version of this story includes music by Chris Coleman and Gentlemen Writers, licensed via MusicBed.

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