The clusterfuck of working the Covid-19 vaccination system
today at 9:57 am
28 million cases of Covid-19 in the United States! 500,000 of us have died!
The numbers are daunting. That’s how many Americans have been lost to the Covid-19 pandemic. While all the disease and death has been tragic, it appears we are seeing the light at the end of the dark tunnel.
In the two months since we started the vaccination process, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped dramatically. Is it because of the vaccine or is it due to the weather being so horrendous that we’ve all been forced to stay home? Probably some of both, but it’s definitely a good thing.
Almost eighteen million Americans have been fully vaccinated. Although that’s a small percentage of our population, it’s a good start. Still, getting vaccinated isn’t easy. You might even call the process a clusterfuck!
In late January, word hit the street that Illinois was moving to the second phase of the vaccination process. Included was anyone over the age of sixty-five. You know…senior citizenville. That’s me!! I celebrated by trying to find a vaccination location. Good luck with that.
I started at my local Walgreens pharmacy. After all, they deliver flu and shingles shots, so why not Covid? They said they were going to have them, but had no idea when. They had yet to hear from the government. Neither had any of their other locations. I tried some local groceries that had pharmacy facilities. Nothing. Nada. Zip!
My next step was my primary care physician’s office. I had an appointment for something unrelated to Covid but figured that while I was there I might as well see what they knew. My doctor told me that the office hadn’t started giving them to their patients, but would be eventually. In fact, the folks working in the office had yet to receive their shots. Scary. She did say that patients over the age of sixty-five would get the first shots. Somewhat reassuring. She also said if I could get a job helping out at the office part-time, I could move up on the list. I think she was kidding, but in case she wasn’t, I got the hell out of the office fast!
When you put the two early episodes together, what do you get?
If there was all this hassle before the start date of stage two, I could only imagine what would occur when hundreds of thousands of desperate senior citizens would be fighting for appointment times. But, then a major medical miracle happened. That same doctor’s office called me late on a Friday afternoon. It seemed another of their locations had some cancellations and there was an opening to get vaccinated. All I needed to do was drive thirty miles in the next hour to get there before they closed. When I asked if there was enough for an extra dose for my partner, they said to bring her along. The more the merrier.
We got in the car. CHECK! We drove thirty miles in rush hour traffic. CHECK! We made it to the location and found parking right in front of the building. CHECK! We went through the check-in and temperature check process without an issue. CHECK! We made it to the vaccination desk. BUZZZZZ!!!
Apparently, there was a miscommunication. There was only enough medicine for one vaccination. They asked if I could come back the following Thursday. The words running through my head were “Are you fucking kidding me?” I did manage to clean it up before they left my mouth. Although I did manage to negotiate an appointment for the following morning, I left the office without being vaccinated.
Surprisingly, the next day went smoothly. The shot process was quick and painless. They even set up an appointment date and time for the follow-up Moderna vaccination. February 20 at 10:00am. Four weeks away. The first three weeks were a breeze. Every so often I’d get a text confirming the date. Although in the back of my head I was always thinking about what could possibly go wrong, it looked like the vaccination was going to be a go. And then it snowed.
There was a lot of snow. More than ten inches. Welcome to winter in Chicago. It’s not that unusual, we just dig out and move forward with our lives. But, the rest of the country was dealing with the same thing and in a lot of cases, much worse. I wondered if it would cause a problem with the vaccines? I got my answer in a text message. My appointment was postponed. Then, I received a phone call telling me the same thing. And then just to make sure I understood, they sent me an e-mail. A little overkill, but okay.
I figured I would eventually hear about a rescheduled date. A couple of days later, I did. It was a text letting me know the new date was on March 6. Cool. Of course, then they followed up with a phone call…..and then there was another e-mail. Enough already with the over communication!
March 6 wasn’t a horrible date. I could have waited for two more weeks. No big deal. But then last Friday, I get another call. They wanted to know if I was available to move up my appointment to February 21. If I’m interested, give them a call. Of course, I’m interested, but before I could call back, I get a text message. Same thing but with a different number to call. I call the first dude and get his voice mail. It says to leave a message and he’ll get back to me within twenty-four hours. I try the second number and get an actual person. We set an appointment for the 21st. VOILA! All done. Of course, they followed up with another text message and another email. SIGH! Oh yeah, the first dude did call me back the next day. He had no idea I had set a new appointment date. Scary, since he identified himself as the head of the department.
That brings us to Sunday…February 21st. I woke up to an email confirming my new appointment date/time. A couple of hours later I received a text asking me to let them know if I couldn’t make the vaccination appointment. By then, I’ve lost track of the number of calls, texts and emails I had received. I just erased all of them.
Vaccination day went smoothly. We got there and in less than one hour we had our shots and we were on our way. I know I spent the last one thousand words complaining, but I realize how lucky we were. Over-communication was nothing compared to what many others have gone through. Some people have traveled hundreds of miles to get their shot. One local journalist walked six miles round trip in the snow to get hers. I know someone who is supposed to get her second shot today and still hasn’t heard about the scheduling. Not to mention the thousands of people who can’t navigate the system and are unable to secure an appointment. So yeah, I do realize it could have been worse…much worse…but that doesn’t mean the entire process can’t be done better. That doesn’t mean the entire process isn’t one big…
Related Post: How far would you drive to get the Covid-19 vaccine?
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