Vaccine Voices: Mary Richardson

Mary Richardson, a retiree from Portland, is a cancer survivor who lives in a multigenerational household and recently received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. She shares her vaccination story:

I am a four-time cancer survivor. I had surgery in October and started chemotherapy in January. Knowing I am immunocompromised during a pandemic is beyond scary. My oncologist assured me the vaccine was safe and we stopped chemo a couple days before and after the injection. I am back on my chemo rotations and feel great. I actually went to a grocery store for the first time in 13 months. Masked and still distancing of course. Receiving the J&J vaccine means I don’t have to postpone chemo for a second shot, a real benefit for me.

I am 65 years old, and my husband is 69. Our daughter and granddaughter currently live with us. Being part of a multigenerational household and on chemo made it all the more important to be vaccinated as soon as possible. We have been pretty seriously quarantined for the last year. I believe it will be a long time until we experience life as we think of normal, but I am looking forward to living the new normal.

To find an appointment, I signed up on the OHA website. It took about two weeks to schedule and then actually go to my appointment. I received my vaccine at the Portland Airport, and I was pleasantly surprised at how organized and well-staffed it was. I was in and out in 40 minutes, including my 15-minute wait period. The staff were respectful and able to answer any questions I had. I had a little bit of a reaction: some fatigue, a low-grade fever of 99.6 for about 12 hours. I took a single Tylenol and was fine from then on. My arm was a bit sore at the injection site for about four days but nothing worse than a flu shot. All in all, side effects were minimal and so worth the peace of mind it gives me knowing I am doing everything I can to protect myself, loved ones and community.

You can share your stories at the survey link in English or Spanish or use the hashtags #MyVaccineReason or #MiVozMiVacuna to share on your own social media channels.

As we learn more about when and where vaccinations are available, information will continue to be posted at and

This article first appeared in the March 30, 2021 issue of Oregon Coronavirus Update.