From day one, I’ve wanted it. I’ve been in search of the COVID vaccine since its availability was first announced.
My wife, the teacher, was the first one in the household to get a shot at the very end of 2020. She received a letter from her school system then got on the state site. As she put it, she got her two doses on national holidays, Sundays, February 14, and March 7, at SUNY Albany.
A couple of weeks later, around January 12, they let the 65+ on the list. As my wife warned me, the slots filled up quickly. Sometimes, while I was in the system and clicked on a date, by the time I finished, the slot was already gone. Finally, I got one. March 31. Ugh. At least it was also at SUNY Albany.
Friends of mine got appointments in Utica, 95 minutes to the west of Albany. Or Plattsburgh, about 2.5 hours to the north. Or White Plains, two hours to the south.
Consumer Value Stores
But then some of my buddies who were 65+ started getting appointments in the area. I didn’t try Walgreens because one had to register as a member or some such. But I did go to the CVS site, and it was always full locally, at least when I had checked.
On the morning of Tuesday, March 2, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. No useful info was accessible on the CVS site. At 6 a.m., there were – suddenly, as a host of angels singing Hallelujah, even during Lent – available appointments! And I got two, the first on March 3, a/k/a, the very next day, with the other about three weeks later!! (Worthy of at least two exclamation points.)
Later that day, a volunteer from the Albany Public Library called me to ask me if I needed assistance tracking down a vaccine. Twenty-four hours earlier, I would have screamed, “YES, HELP ME!” BTW, I understand that the Schenectady library is also reaching out to its constituents, and I think it’s grand.
I got to the store on Central Avenue in Albany, a 10-minute bus ride, and about the same time on foot, at 9:35, 25 minutes before my slated appointment. The guy in front of me was scheduled for 9:45. I was feeling bad for the store employee who was both working the registration table AND running the front store register. (Eventually, they got someone to just work the vaccine table.)
Following the blue tape, I stood in line. Soon, there were about a dozen people behind me. Then at 9:55, two guys appeared from the pharmacy area and started administering the Pfizer shots. Didn’t hurt at all. I shopped around the post-vaccine area, then chatted with another recipient. She admitted that she was one of those people who checked the various websites for hours each day looking for her “golden ticket.”
One more time
The next day, my wife said that friends had alerted us that the Washington Avenue Armory site was now accepting all eligible folks from the whole city. They weren’t just inoculating selected ZIP Codes that included where my wife used to live (12206) but not where we live now, a half dozen blocks away. This would be for our daughter who has a note from her doctor specifying her underlying conditions.
Early on, I was making zero progress. Then I got an email from the city of Albany school district with a direct link to the state site, and the Armory had been added to the list. Bottom line, my daughter has an appointment in mid-April.
But I COULD have gotten her a shot at a pop-up in Albany on March 6. At first, it was for 65+ only, but when they had vacancies the day before, they expanded the pool. By the time I found out about the change, all of the slots were gone.
The COVID vaccine rollout has been like the wild and wooly west. Some folks actually feel guilty for receiving their shots when others have not. While I appreciate their sensitivity, I would never fault them for getting protected. This process could have gone better at the outset, but as some musician once wrote, “It’s getting better all the time.” A Hamilton song also seems appropriate.