The Instagram Dogs of PDX Airport's Mass Vaccination Site

Take your pup when you get your shot and make them famous.

By Margaret Seiler and Julia Silverman April 29, 2021

Image: Courtesy OHSU

During our shifts volunteering at the drive-through mass vaccination site at the Portland airport's economy lot, we've observed tears of joy and relief, nurses breaking out in spontaneous dance routines, and, always, some very good dogs. But little did we know that a small group of OHSU employees were busy documenting this moment in pet history for posterity.

They've started @pdx_pack_immunity on Instagram, wherein the newly vaccinated give permission for their dogs to pose for a beauty shot—as the tagline says, "Come for immunity, stay for dogs." (Important note: Bringing Fido is only possible if you're at one of the drive-through clinics, at the airport, or at the Hillsboro municipal stadium. At the indoor Oregon Convention Center, only service animals are allowed.)

There's something natural and right about this, given how many of us got a pandemic puppy. And while appointment reminder texts from OHSU told airport shot-getters "the number of visitors is limited," that didn't apply to Trucker, Arnie, and Bernadette here. And what better ambassador for the joys and opportunities of being immunized than, say, Maggie, who as noted in the caption, "is a little shy—but her people don't need to be, now that they are vaccinated!"

More wisdom from the dogs who've accompanied their owners: A lot of people might plan out their vaccination outfits for easy access to their upper arms—maybe they should take a cue from Zoe and her white sweater vest with a ribbed turtleneck collar. 

Jon Soffer, OHSU's clinical lead at the airport, says that after weeks of mass clinic duty, he noticed that people bringing their pets were having more positive, less anxious experiences.

"I started the Instagram account after spending so many hours in the monitoring lot and really seeing that people are happy and want to interact with one another, but there is no mechanism to share their experience in a positive way," Soffer wrote via email. "There are many great stories to come out of the amazing work at these sites, but the public facing ones focus on items like number of vaccines given or logistical feats. Instead, I wanted to focus on something emotional and more 'human' ironically, and highlighting the pets of our visitors here at PDX seemed the best way to go."

In the end, people react to their shot in a lot of different ways: relief, smiles, tears. Very few have howled, like Roo here, but remember that all emotional displays are natural and OK. You do you.

Listen: Dreading the potential side effects of the second dose? Don’t let it scare into not getting that second shot. In this episode of Footnotes, we talk with Dawn Nolt, a professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University, about second dose side effects and why they’re actually a good thing. 

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