For the last two months I've focused entirely on getting vaccinated. I signed up with our county health department, our local hospital, my general medical practice. I got on a list at Rite Aid and CVS and Walgreen's. I drove over to a local pharmacy that required in-person registration and filled out a form for my wife B and myself. I signed up at grocery stores Wegman's and Weiss and Giant.
I had each of these tagged on the bookmark page of my browser and checked through them several times a day. The only message I ever got was: Appointments Unavailable. Fully Booked. No Vaccines. Sales ended. Registrations Closed.
B had pretty much the same experience. And together we watched as a lot of our friends and relatives started getting vaccinated, while we felt left behind.
Then last Monday, after dinner, B checked her email once again and . . . there it was! She'd received an email from the county. She couldn't believe it! Suddenly, she was allowed to sign up for a Covid vaccine.
My response: What!?! I'd signed up with the county before she did. I got my name on the list on January 17; she hadn't signed up until January 20. Also, I happen to be older than she is. We assumed I'd be contacted first. I should have been contacted first!
She scheduled her appointment for Thursday at our community college. She, too, wondered why I hadn't been contacted, told me to double-check my email.
She felt a little guilty that she had gotten an appointment, and not me. She even wondered if she could somehow give her appointment to me. But I said, no, no, that wouldn't be right, and besides she probably couldn't do it anyway, and I reminded her that this was good news since it's better that one of us is vaccinated than neither of us.
Still, I wondered: Were they skipping over me? Was I going to be denied a vaccine because somehow the bureaucratic machinery didn't accept my registration?
We couldn't figure it out. But I kept looking. Then on Tuesday night I received an email from the hospital. Spots were opening up the next day starting at 8 a.m.
So I went on my computer at 7:55. I checked the website, as I'd done many times before. The new sign-up sheet was there. I clicked on it and saw: Fully Booked. Fully Booked. Fully Booked.
Geez, not again! Then at the bottom of the page I saw a phone number for those who had trouble signing up online. So I figured: What the heck. I called the number. It was 8:01 a. m. I got a recording. I was number 12 in the queue.
Number 12, I thought. There's no way. I might as well just hang up. But I had nothing else to do, so I put the phone on Speaker and propped it on the corner of my desk.
Number 11 . . . Number 9 . . . Number 5 . . . and finally a woman -- a real person! -- answered the phone.
I felt ridiculous even asking. But I plowed ahead. "I'm calling to see if I can get a Covid vaccine."
"Sure, I can help you with that," she said.
Wait, I thought, is this for real? She took my name and birthdate and booked an appointment for 9:20 a.m. the same day.
Yes! He ushered me into the proper hallway. Another volunteer asked for my license and Medicare card. A very nice nurse gave me the shot. Didn't hurt at all. She told me to drink plenty of water and take Tylenol, not Advil, if I had any aches or pains.
I got a Pfizer vaccine. I was handed a card with my appointment for the second shot, then I spent 15 minutes in the waiting area to make sure there were no side-effects. Then I walked out to the parking lot and met up with B.
The next day we made the trip to the community college, and I in turn waited while B got her shot.
B got her vaccination the way it's supposed to happen. I stumbled into a lucky break. But I can say to those who have not yet received their shots: Keep the faith. They are coming.