USA TODAY US Edition

‘An experience I’ll remember forever’

Vaccinated Americans share excitement, other emotions

- Jordan Mendoza

Across America, people are having emotional responses to getting vaccinated.

Tererai Trent, 58, and her husband, Mark Trent, 64, could not hide their excitement about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“You should have seen us two days before the date, we kept on really counting the hours ‘when are we going to get the vaccine?’ ” Tererai Trent said. “I think we were at the site of the vaccine probably an hour before our time because we were that excited.”

After receiving the second dose, the Lancaster, Virginia, married couple could not help but dance. Tererai Trent posted the video across multiple social media platforms, and it had been viewed more than 273,000 times as of Monday afternoon. She said they will post a second video in a few weeks to show they are fine and to urge people to get vaccinated.

“Once we get the vaccines and the pandemic in control, we can open all our businesses, we can set aside those masks,” Mark Trent said. “Maybe even someday we can get back to shaking hands.”

Being social people, the couple are excited to see their grandkids in the future. And for Mark, he’s been wanting to try all the seafood in eastern Virginia.

Other people across the country also spoke with USA TODAY about their emotions after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Here are their stories:

Travis Chi Wing Lau, 31, Columbus, Ohio

“I had tears in my eyes, literally. But I also had just a tremendous amount of gratitude and hope.” Tom Miner Vaccine recipient from Charlotte, North Carolina

An assistant professor at Kenyon College, Lau has been working on the history of vaccinatio­n and anti-vaccinatio­n. He said given how people have been negligent toward health care, the chance to become vaccinated felt “particular­ly special.”

Lau moved to Columbus from Texas a few months into the pandemic, and although he said the vaccine gives people a chance to feel more grounded, he hopes that the past year will make people feel more understand­ing of any struggles: “Everyone benefits if you’re a little bit more compassion­ate and open to being more flexible and more understand­ing of different challenges and needs. The pandemic is not the only time we should be thinking about these things.”

Tom Miner, 25, Charlotte, North Carolina

Miner did not expect to be as emotional as he was from getting the vaccine, as he thought about everything that had transpired in the past year.

“I had tears in my eyes, literally,” Miner said. “But I also had just a tremendous amount of gratitude and hope in my heart that better days were ahead for all of us.”

As he remains hopeful about the future and not taking anything for granted, he said he holds all the people that lost their lives to COVID-19 close to his heart.

Kristen Whitson, 38, Oregon, Wisconsin

After her graduation from graduate school was canceled last year, Whitson said, “it was that not only was there no longer like a light at the end of the tunnel, it was like there was no longer any tunnel.”

But the tunnel, and the light, appeared on her way to the vaccinatio­n site in Milwaukee. After receiving her dose, she realized how historic the moment was.

“That’s an experience that I’ll remember forever,” she said. “The magnitude of the moment just kept washing over me.”

Mike DiBenedett­o, 46, Phoenix

DiBenedett­o spent hours trying to book an appointmen­t, but after finally getting one, he said it was like a kid waiting to open presents on Christmas morning. He said it was difficult to put into words how thankful he was to begin the vaccinatio­n process.

“It’s still miraculous that we’ve been able to come so far,” DiBenedett­o said.

Heather Montgomery, 35, Madison, Mississipp­i

Montgomery and her husband received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after initially being on the fence about getting it. She said it hasn’t hit her that she’s vaccinated yet, but it was a huge sigh of relief to be vaccinated along with her parents.

“I feel like it’s one step closer to a little bit more normalcy for my family,” Montgomery said.

Michael Green, 21, Hanover, New Hampshire

Green was excited to get his vaccine after losing family members and an unexpected senior year of college. He feels reassured about getting exposed to the outside world.

“I kind of have more relief,” Green said. “It’s like exciting, but I still know there’s still kind of a long road ahead.”

He feels that being vaccinated allows him to make more personal choices and hopes to attend things like sporting events soon.

Michael Limus, 29, Sacramento, California

Limus did not think he would be able to get the shot so soon, but when he did, he felt a wave of emotions.

“As soon as I got into the line, I saw an elderly person in a wheelchair getting their vaccine, and I think it was just like a really full-circle moment for me,” he said.

He is appreciati­ve of the opportunit­y and is excited for what comes next.

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 ?? PHOTOS PROVIDED BY HEATHER MONTGOMERY AND TRAVIS CHI WING LAU ?? Travel blogger Heather Montgomery, left, said she’s excited to go back on cruises when they sail again. Travis Chi Wing Lau, right, hopes for more compassion from people.
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY HEATHER MONTGOMERY AND TRAVIS CHI WING LAU Travel blogger Heather Montgomery, left, said she’s excited to go back on cruises when they sail again. Travis Chi Wing Lau, right, hopes for more compassion from people.

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