"Home lies in the things you carry with you everywhere and not in the things that tie you down."
-- Pico Iyer

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Wait ... Is This for Real?

     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.

     I still wasn't sure I believed it, but I got dressed and B drove me down to the hospital. I went in the front door and was met by a volunteer. Would he let me through?

     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.

29 comments:

Carole said...

It feels surreal. After my second vaccine I left walking on air, so very grateful to be vaccinated. Now that I am two weeks out, theoretically I am fully protected (assuming there is at least some protection against the variants). And the latest research is showing that the likelihood of spreading the virus, once you have been vaccinated, is very low. Yet in spite of this, I still have this hesitation to unmask. Of course I will still wear a mask in public. But to unmask with someone else who is also fully vaccinated? It's not logical, but it feels not quite right. Maybe that is what happens after a full year of being ever vigilant.

Congrats on finally getting the vaccine!

Rian said...

Tom, our experience has been a bit similar to yours. We signed up everywhere and watched our friends and families get contacted while we waited. But finally almost 3 weeks ago, we got contacted by one of the hospitals we had signed up with. Drove there, parked, went in, got vaccinated, waited, and left... no problem. 2nd is this week. But after that first contact, we have been contacted by almost every other available site including our own doctor. So I think things are just opening up all over. So glad you and B got the vaccine! We got Pfizer also.

DJan said...

I tried for weeks to get onto a list somewhere to get a vaccine, but finally I was called by my doctor to say I could sign up for a shot. Hubby got the same message. It turns out that in our county they went by age, vaccinating the oldest and working through until we got to us! My second shot is on the 23rd. It felt so good to be on my way towards normalcy. :-)

Kay said...

I have friends in Illinois that had TONS of problems getting their shots too and hunting everywhere for it. I understand they've all gotten one or both shots now. Here in Hawaii, I think people have had an easier time of it if they have a computer. You can now either go through Kaiser Permanente even though you're not a member or through the Hawaii Pacific Health website if you're 65+ or an essential worker.

Kay said...

Thank goodness both you and B have your shots and that you're not getting any bad reactions.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I'm in western PA and my experience matches yours - I signed up everywhere, logged on in the middle of the night due to rumors that spots opened up then, all to no avail. Then last week I received messages that both our county health department and a large local grocery chain were having mass vaccination events this week. I signed on and, lo and behold, got an appointment. I believe that the federal govt has been sending more vaccine, more consistently, allowing the local folks to schedule more appointments. Anyway, congrats on getting your first shots.
Nina

Miss Merry said...

Our state started with the 70+. They told you to only register on a waiting list at one location. Some did that, others registered everywhere. No one was getting an appointment. Slowly, people started getting shots, mostly out of town because they were registering in a five county radius. Then it opened to 65. 70 plus were still waiting. Then we had a weekend of vaccinations - drive thrus vaccinating hundreds. The day appointments opened up to 60+ I was ready with my phone and laptop. My first call was the health department and we had shots six days later at 9am at a drive thru clinic. Later I found that if I would have called the hospital first (they were second on my list) I could have gotten in the next day. Yesterday the hospital and drug stores were posting they had appointments available on their facebook pages! It is raining vaccines! My mid-forties daughter is hoping they get to her age group soon.

Celia said...

So glad to hear you and B.s got started receiving the vaccine. Yay! Pfizer is what I received as well. After I got both shots I was surprised at the cloud I didn't realize was hanging over me left. Like Carol, I am keeping my mask on in public and since hay fever season is beginning here that helps me out in a completely different way.

Slowly my family here in WA are getting the shots too, all the older ones at least. don't know if this works anywhere else but one of my sons got his shot as his prize for working the vaccine clinic this weekend. The other son and my daughter-in-law got theirs because of their employment. Slowly it goes.

Red said...

There seems to be chaos in all places where they are trying to vaccinate.

River said...

I plan on getting my shot as soon as my turn comes around. I'm in the third tier age grouping though, so it will be a while. I'll just keep being as careful as I have been and stay home a lot until then.

Arkansas Patti said...

Delighted that you both finally got your shots. I feel so badly for those in high population areas. I live in tiny town Arkansas, registered at one drug store. Couple of weeks later they called and I got my first one. Shortly after that, I got a cold call from the hospital wanting to book me. Hadn't even registered there. Then second shot from original pharmacy came right on time. I see the lines on TV and hear of the struggles like you had and feel almost guilty that mine was so easy.

Tom said...

River, If you're under 65 you may have to wait a while. My daughter (mid-30s) got hers last week, too, but she's in a semi-front-line job. Her husband (age 40) figures it'll be May. Still and all ... we can make plans for the summer!

Olga said...

I signed up with the health department and waited for two months. I really didn't think about it after calling to make sure my registration on the computer had actually been received. I saw people on Zoom and on the news all in a panic about it and I just did not want to go there. When my place in line came up I got a call with an appointment time. I will get my second dose next week. I didn't even have to send a large donation to Governor DeSantis!
Now it seems things are moving at a much more rapid pace and pretty much all my circle of friends have at least one dose down. There is even talk of outdoor gathering in the future. Since I hang around mostly with like minded people, we tend to be on the cautious side.

Tom said...

B took the more relaxed approach that you did. Obviously, the two of you are the smart ones!

Bethany @ Happily Loco said...

So glad you both were able to get your vaccines! Our county suddenly got a surplus right after my Covid symptoms started. My husband and I ended up getting our vaccines right after we recovered. So right now, we are definitely immune. It is really strange being able to ease up a bit, after spending a year being so cautious about avoiding the virus.

gigi-hawaii said...

Congratulations, Tom! Glad you and B have gotten the first dose. Same here with David and me.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Congratulations! Yes, doesn't it sort of feel like you won the lottery or something when you FINALLY score that shot. And while I've never won the lottery I imagine that you feel sure that others "might" deserve or need it more, but that doesn't seem to diminish how great it feels. We had our 2nd shots last Tuesday and are counting the days until we are "fully immunized." I truly hope everyone who wants one find them in the days ahead as miraculously as you did! ~Kathy

Pat WD said...

I kept feeling incompetent when I struggled to find appointments for my husband and myself. When I did get the slot (tomorrow at 9:20 in fact), I shouted for joy. It does feel like winning the lottery. It shouldn't have been that stressful!

Linda Myers said...

I got my second shot three weeks ago (I volunteer one day a week at our health clinic, so I qualified as a health care worker). Today I sat with my friend INSIDE my house - she is also double vaccinated - and gave her a hug when she left. It was like a miracle.

Gail, northern California said...

I've had both shots through my doctor. Now I would like to sign up to be tested monthly to see if I am one of those asymptomatic carriers. My daughter is a cancer survivor and I want to be especially careful around her. Another continuing precaution, I still wear a mask everywhere I go.

I so look forward to the day when I can entertain friends and family in my home. I never realized how special cake and coffee is.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

My husband works in a senior living center, he already got both his shots. I miss both this tier and just barely miss the second tier. And I'm not rich, so I miss out on that special Florida rich-person-only tier that the governor set up (I can't afford to pay the minimum fee...er...campaign donation.)

Laurie Stone said...

Tom, Good for you! I was also one of those "left behind" people who couldn't get a vaccine. Then I got lucky and am getting one this week! Can't wait to get into the system.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

So sorry it took so long for you to get the vaccine but glad you have it now. There are so many seniors who don't know how to use the Internet or even have a car. I love that there are young people out there volunteering to set up appointments for them. Also, we had a clinic in a low-income neighborhood in East LA, and a bunch of rich people horned in on them to get their vaccines. I'm glad they are rolling out J & J and more of the other.

Karen D. Austin said...

Tom, I am sorry it was such an ordeal! Here in Indiana, it was easy. I signed up the day that 55+ people became eligible. And later that same day, I received texts and emails from the Indiana Dept. of Health providing the same link. And then my appointment was moved up by 13 days because the clinic called me and invited me to transfer my appt from the hospital near my house to one downtown that had immediate openings. My husband (who is 4.5 years younger) got a call 3 days later to move his appt up, too. Now we have both received our first injection. I hope that if this becomes an annual shot like the flu shot that each state can improve their system so that the recipients have an easier time signing up!

Carol Cassara said...

Honestly, every state and county has their own process and sometimes it is inexplicable I am one down, one to go. Moderna. Waiting for the 28th with excitement...and two weeks later, more freedom!

Happy said...

I was fortunate to be able to get my vaccines at the VA medical center. I received the first in early February and had the second last week. I had signed up with them as well as the county. My husband is not a veteran and is older and has more chronic conditions, he had to go with the county so his second dose is not until the last week of March. I received Moderna and he is receiving Pfizer.

Plynjyn said...

Looks like I am the only laggard on this site. I am on a waiting list of 160 people at the Weis Market grocery chain and feel lucky to be on it. Fully Booked is on the CVS, Rite Aide, and Weis Markets websites. Registered on UPMC and Penn State Hershey, but to no avail. Everyone I know who has been vaccinated has lucked into it by word of mouth. I heard from a neighbor that he had registered in person at our local RiteAid and so I rushed right over. I was told it was only a waiting list for that day and if I didn’t hear from them by 8 pm I would no longer be on their list. No call came at 8 pm, so I am trying not to feel frustrated.

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