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Opinion: God bless the incredible Utah COVID-19 vaccine volunteers

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY- I just got back from getting my Covid vaccination, first dose, at the Mountain America Expo Center (formally South Towne Expo Center.) But this isn’t about that. It’s about the volunteers in Utah. 

I was a little nervous about going, I should admit. Nervous about where to go, would I find the right place, would it hurt, all the dumb things. I could just picture myself wandering around the big expo center, as I’ve done in years past when I’ve been there for Festival of Trees or the travel show, trying to find someone to ask if I was in the right place.

Boy, did I worry for nothing. From the minute I reached the parking lot I saw volunteers. Lots of them. There were volunteers who stopped cars so we could cross the street from the parking lot into the main building. They were even cheerful.

“Thank you for coming. Have a great day!”

Walking into the main doors there were more volunteers.

“First shot or second shot?”

“First shot,” I answered, and she directed me into one door instead of the other. 

I followed a clearly marked walkway, along which there were more volunteers just in case I got nervous along the way.

“The lady in yellow up ahead will tell you where to go.”

Alrighty. Could this be any more smooth?

Lady in yellow, “How are you today?”

“I’m about to be lots better,” I replied. How many times had she heard that before? In front of us was a cavernous room filled with nurses administering shots. I was humbled at the sight. When a nurse became available, she raised a red flag.

“Right there Hon,” the lady in yellow directed me.

Shots don’t usually bother me. Needles in general don’t bother me, but I’ve heard some unpleasant stories about this shot. Let me tell you – I worried for nothing. I DIDN’T EVEN FEEL IT! I had to ask the nurse if we were done.

“Yep,” she said, “just head over to the guys in blue.”

Guys in blue. Woman in yellow. I know what this reminded me of – the Olympics! Salt Lake 2002. When the world came to our beautiful city in 2002, there were volunteers by the thousands, and just like today at the Expo Center, they were color-coordinated. Guys in green jackets did one thing, people in blue did other things. I had a friend who had a green jacket. I think he worked grooming the slopes for the downhill races.

Blue jackets drove celebrities from the airport to the opening ceremonies. Other blue jackets showed me where to go when I did my small part at the closing ceremonies. There were people whose job it was to entertain people standing in line so they didn’t get bored standing in line. What city on earth has volunteers do that? Salt Lake City!

So, back to today, guys in blue took me to my seat where I was to wait for 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. A guy in brown made my appointment to come back for my second shot. Guys (and gals, of course) in green were walking around just in case you had a question. 

These beautiful volunteers. These incredible, generous, loving Utah volunteers. They made this experience for all of us less scary today. They made the world feel welcome in 2002, and I hope they’ll get the chance to do it again for another Olympic games. God bless you Utah volunteers. I don’t know if you’re Democrats or Republicans, and notice how it doesn’t matter. You are unified by your love of your fellow man, and we all benefit. You are the spirit of Utah.