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HERB BENHAM: Calling all the shots

One by one friends are getting vaccinated. Some older, some younger, some about the same age.

People who may not have normally gotten the flu shot — people like me — are signing up for it because most of us are pining for a brave new world, or at least a brave new world with which we are familiar, and we are pinning our hopes on this path and if two shots are what it takes to get there, ready, aim and fire.

After taking an informal, nonscientific and probably terribly inaccurate poll among my friends, it seems that if you’re going to have a reaction to the vaccine, it happens with the second shot. People feel pretty good about themselves after the first shot and then they get the second one and suddenly feel mortal and as if they spiked the football before they reached the end zone.

Life will humble you and if it hasn’t recently, just wait or get the second shot and if you have a reaction, you may get a taste of what COVID feels like.

Recently, I played tennis with a friend who had COVID several months ago and his lungs aren't back to normal, he is still having trouble breathing and taking a full breath. That said, he’s pretty happy to be back on the court.

For those who have a bad reaction to the shots, it seems to be brief — 24 hours at the most — there may be a few days when you’re not 100 percent. After that, you’ll feel close to normal or as close as you can given who you are.

It’s easy after you’ve been vaccinated to be proud of yourself. You have become vaccine royalty. I’ve heard it in people’s voices. It’s crept into mine.

It is the “I am fully vaccinated” pronouncement when you are in line at the pool, at the grocery store or in the credit union as if anybody asked and if they did, it was tangentially or perhaps theoretically.

This is to say you may not want to lead with it in conversation, blurting out “Have you heard that I’m fully vaccinated?” when somebody just wants to know how the kids are doing or whether you’ve watched the latest episode of “This is Us."

You don’t want to sound giddy or as if you are bragging when you say, “I’ve had both shots” because people might think you’re saying that you’re better than they are. If they think that, then they may quietly wish that the next shot you get is the one they give dogs at the vets when they’re not feeling their best.

I suggest that if you tell people you’ve been fully vaccinated that you do so while gazing downward, maybe stutter and act as if you’re ashamed of your good fortune even though deep down you’ve never been less ashamed in your entire life and really, you feel the opposite, as if you deserve your good fortune.

Tell them their turn will come. Soon. Maybe a couple of Christmases from now.

COVID is tapering. We’re all going to be royalty before you know it. Take it from the king.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or 661-395-7279.