• Travel Anne

Much-Needed Shot in the Arm

Updated: Apr 7

Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is moving at a record pace. Airports are jammed and people are either traveling or planning to travel. A year after we stopped just about everything, more and more Americans seem ready to put the lockdown in their rearview mirror.

*** Update: The Centers for Disease Control gave the green light Friday (4/2) for fully vaccinated people to resume travel. An estimated 100 million Americans have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, and evidence mounts of the shots’ effectiveness. Until Friday’s announcement, officials were still discouraging people who had been fully vaccinated from traveling.***

By Les Heintz

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This is happening much faster than anyone expected.

By the third week of March the CDC was reporting that nearly 100 million Americans had received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and the US began distributing 27 million doses each week. Many states have opened access to ages 16 and older. The goal is now 200 million vaccines distributed by the end of April.

My shot was scheduled for the morning of March 25 at a drive-up center in northern Virginia. My wife (TravelAnne) and I arrived 20-minutes early. We went through the check-in process, then pulled our car around wait to in line for our shots.

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During the short wait something totally unexpected happened to me. I could feel my eyes welling up… not enough to shed an actual tear… but there was no doubt about what was happening. I was getting slightly emotional and it surprised me.

At this point I should probably explain that while my last name is of German origin, there is also a good deal of Irish blood flowing through my veins. I’ve always assumed that’s why my emotions are so close to the surface. It’s something I’ve dealt with all of my adult life.

That said, I did not expect to feel anything while getting the vaccine.

Our shots were administered by a wonderful woman name Shay. As we pulled up underneath her tent, she raised her arms and said “Yea! You made it.” We got our shots, waited the required 15-minutes and then drove home.

The rest of the day was… well, it was just strange.

I mentioned my experience to a number of friends who had either received their first or second shot. Most of them (like me) continued to travel during the lockdown… but with a different set of protocols. Some had tested positive. A few experienced mild symptoms.

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From these conversations, I learned I was not alone. Becoming at least a bit emotional while receiving the vaccine is not unusual nor is it uncommon. Many of those I spoke with said they didn’t fully understand the emotional toll of the pandemic until they were actually waiting to receive the vaccine. Most, if not all of them, said they were ready for the country to open sooner rather than later.

To fully understand the impact of the vaccine, one simply has to look at the headlines of the day.

- TSA is reporting a record number of travelers in airports across the country.

- According to a tracking survey by the research group Longwoods International, 87% of Americans have scheduled travel in the next 6-months.

- Many cruise lines, blocked from US ports, are planning to set sail this summer from destinations like Greece, Bermuda, Saint Maarten and The Bahamas, but only for passengers who have been vaccinated.

All of this as some public officials warn of a possible spike and the CDC continues to advise against non-essential travel for those who are not vaccinated.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a COVID-19 denier. Even though cases are falling, people are still getting sick… some seriously. I’m not ready to leave my mask at home, but I’m ok with shaking hands.

That said, after spending most of March in the southeast, it’s clear to me that the country is reopening on its own. In Florida and southern Georgia, most people were careful and respectful. Some experiences definitely stood out. The crowded restaurants outside of Daytona Beach and the full tour buses in Savannah top that list.

For now, I’m going to chalk that up to the power of the vaccine. I plan to carefully move forward and hope for the best.

One final note worth mentioning. The day I received my first vaccine injection, I drove home to find something interesting in my mailbox. It was my renewed Passport. I know, it’s probably just a coincidence, but someone very close to me always says that nothing happens by accident.

Whether it was just happenstance or a sign from above, I can’t really say. I do know this…I’m happy to have both.

**Les Heintz a media consultant and independent television producer based in Washington, DC. He is Executive Producer of multiple television series. He is also Co-founder & Executive Editor of Follow him on Twitter @LesHeintz57 or email Les at

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