It took three tries, but on Tuesday afternoon I finally got my first of two Covid-19 vaccine shots.

I got it at the parking lot behind “the shopping destination formerly known as Edgewood Mall,” which is now called Uptown McComb. It was my first time at the vaccination site since Feb. 5, when I went there as a bystander to see how things were going.

The state Department of Health, the National Guard and whomever else manages the site made a good change.

Specifically, they set up two lines of cars in the west parking lot beside J.C. Penney’s and Belk. This keeps vehicles moving steadily and keeps the line off Veterans Boulevard.

My wife originally set up my appointment for the first shot on Friday, March 19. As it approached, I realized we had to go out of town that afternoon, and spending an hour or more in line at the mall would delay my work for Saturday’s paper.

So I cancelled the appointment, much to the annoyance of anybody who found out about it. I got a bunch of health lectures over the weekend, so on Monday morning, I went online to reschedule.

I figured the earliest available dates would be two or three weeks away, but I could have gone that afternoon if I wished. Instead, I set it up for 9:20 Tuesday morning.

Anticipating a long wait, I was surprised to drive along the road north of the mall, nearly all the way to where cars turned into the parking lot toward the big white tents.

It looked like I would be done within a few minutes, but suddenly the lines were still.

After a couple of minutes, a nurse came to my car and said they had to shut down because lightning was heading toward McComb. She told me to come back around 1 p.m. if the weather improved.

We got a pretty good rain the rest of the morning. I kept an ear out, and every few minutes you’d hear the rumble of thunder.

I waited till 1:20 p.m., figuring it was 50/50 that the shots had resumed. They had, and apparently everybody whose vaccination got postponed that morning showed up right before I did.

A sign directed drivers into the mall parking lot alongside the former Penney’s location. I got in the left-hand lane, but if you go there, I suggest you try the right-hand one. It is basically the inside lane and will save you a couple of minutes on your trip to the tents.

It took almost an hour to get to the first tent, where staffers confirmed your ID. In a few more minutes, I pulled into one of the two vaccination tents, where a guy asked a couple of questions and put a “14:30” sticky note on my dashboard to tell the exit staff what time I arrived.

The shot itself was quick and easy. There was much less of a needle sting or any other discomfort than I expected, mostly because I didn’t know what to expect.

Afterward, I drove to a parking place to wait 15 minutes to make sure there was no reaction to the shot. I got back to the office at 2:50, making it a roughly 90-minute round trip. Not bad for a dose of pandemic protection.

By the time I returned, an e-mail was waiting for me, reminding me to schedule my second shot in four weeks. I set it up on another Tuesday but plan to switch that date because of what happened at home that evening.

Close to midnight, Mary Ann’s cell phone rang in the kitchen. That is either bad news or a wrong number.

It was our daughter Audrey, who wanted her mom to talk her off the ledge from a nasty reaction to her second dose that day.

I could hear Audrey shivering on the phone as she fought feverish chills, a headache, nausea and body aches. This didn’t set in until 10 p.m., 12 hours after she got the shot.

Mrs. Ryan did not wake up when her phone rang, and I did not wake her. I assumed the counselor duties. Audrey had already taken Tylenol, so I told her to cover up, try to doze off and plan on skipping work the next day.

It struck me that if I get anything like those symptoms in four weeks, the last place I will want to be is at the office, trying to do some work when my brain is wiped out. So I’m going to move my second-shot appointment to Friday, hoping that I’ll be home for the weekend by the time my immune system goes haywire.

The big picture is that the shots are available — at the mall and several other locations. And the lines are moving. Every day and every shot brings us closer to the end of this pandemic.

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