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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: Good Medicine, In More Ways Than One

COVID-19 vaccine line
Erin Keever
People stand in line awaiting the COVID-19 vaccine at CaroMont Health.

The blue dots were taped to the floor every six feet, like lily pads lining the corridor. We’re all used to the routine by now — shuffling from spot to spot, like first-graders who need a prompt to stay in line.


But this was one of the good lines. It was the line for the COVID-19 vaccine. And I was there to get my second shot.

This was at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia. I made my appointments there after having a hard time finding open slots in Charlotte.

Here’s the quick medical report, for those of you who haven’t been vaccinated yet: I barely felt either shot. Just a tiny pinch. And although I know some people have been tired or sore, especially after the second shot, I’ve had no side effects at all.

But that’s not the part I want to talk about. What I want to talk about was how happy everyone was to be there.

Have you ever been happy to be in the hospital? Those of us standing in line were downright cheerful. We chatted about the beautiful spring day outside. We chuckled at a poster highlighting one of the hospital’s physicians — a guy named Dr. High. I think a kid in my college dorm went by that name.

The hospital staffers guiding us through the lines were happy. The guy who checked me in on the computer was happy. The nurse who jabbed me with the needle was happy.

We’ve all earned it. After 13 months of most of us being safe and cautious, we’re now getting closer to putting COVID behind us. We’ll still have to wear these annoying masks for a while, and we’re still not able to do all the things we used to do before the virus hit. But our lives are starting to form a normal shape again.

My wife got her first shot at Bank of America Stadium, which made me jealous. I was even more envious of the folks who were able to get their shots out at the speedway. But as I stood there in line at the hospital, it felt like the right place.

Somewhere that’s normally home to so much death and sadness deserves a little bit of joy. And all of us who have endured so much in this pandemic deserve some joy, too.

After you get your shot, they send you to a little waiting area to make sure you don’t have a reaction. It turns out that one of my co-workers — Erin Keever, the senior producer of Charlotte Talks — was waiting there, too. Erin and I normally sit three desks apart, but we hadn’t seen each other since March a year ago.

We spent six or eight minutes catching up before her time in the waiting area was over. A couple minutes later, my time was up, too. I was fully vaccinated, in a room full of happy people, and I’d just seen an old friend.

It was the first time in my life I almost didn’t want to leave the hospital.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.