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A Riot, A Curfew, A Rush To Get Groceries — And A Surprise Chance To Get Vaccinated

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Sam Sokoloff felt rough this week.

SAM SOKOLOFF: I woke up in the middle of the night feverish with aches and chills.

SIMON: You might think, Sam, get a COVID test. But Sam Sokoloff was experiencing the side effects from his second dose of the Moderna vaccine. He's a sixth grade English teacher in Washington, D.C. - 29, young, healthy, not somebody who's able to schedule his first vaccine in D.C. just yet.

SOKOLOFF: I hadn't really prepared myself for the idea of getting a shot, but I realized that I probably wouldn't have another chance for several more months.

SIMON: So here's how Sam Sokoloff managed to get that first shot.

SOKOLOFF: I got the vaccine quite unexpectedly. It was on January 6, which was the day of the insurrection.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There's D.C. police, police from Prince George's County, just outside of Washington. Also, we spoke with a...

SOKOLOFF: I was in work till about 3:30 or 4 o'clock, getting messages that there was going to be a curfew. So I rushed over to the grocery store across the street because I was low on food and needed to make dinner. When I got to the grocery store, I was told that the store was closed due to the curfew but was offered a vaccine because there was only two left and they were going to get rid of them because they would spoil.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SOKOLOFF: My first thought was there are probably hundreds of people in this city who could have used the vaccine in that moment more than I could. Now, that said, I was put on the spot and was hearing cop cars speeding by. So dealing with the uncertainty of, A, not being able to get food from that store, which was my primary mission, B, trying to figure out whether this person was for real, and, C, whether I was actually going to do it. It was me and an older gentleman, maybe a middle-aged guy in his 50s. And we just happened to show up at the same time. And the cashier offered the vaccine to both of us and ushered us back to the pharmacy in the Safeway.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SOKOLOFF: I would respond to someone saying that it's not fair by agreeing. If there was a more at-risk person standing next to me, I would have happily deferred. My reasoning for getting it is that in order to produce herd immunity, it's crucial for everyone in the population or as many people in the population to get vaccinated. And having a younger person vaccinated as opposed to a vaccine being needlessly thrown away is a much smarter alternative.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SOKOLOFF: I do feel relief now that I'm vaccinated. But on another hand, there's still a lot of uncertainty about when life as we knew it will return - you know, for starters, working in person, going to friends' houses, the gym, going to, you know, eating at restaurants. So, of course, I'm very relieved that I will hopefully not experience serious COVID in the future. But at the same time, I'm still just as uncertain as anyone else about when or if ever many elements of our life will return back to normal.

SIMON: Twenty-nine-year-old Sam Sokoloff of Washington, D.C., talking about how a curfew led him to get vaccinated for the coronavirus a lot sooner than he ever expected.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.