Vaccine incentive: donuts to college

free stuff

I’m OK with the COVID-19 vaccine incentive programs. So is the White HouseThe programs range from free donuts and beer to lottery tickets to select free passes to attractions.

Still, I was just a tad put off by the fact that many of the incentives were only for the newly vaccinated. (Sidebar: a previously resistant local columnist got kudos for changing their mind and deciding to get the vaccine. Meh.)

Yeah, yeah, getting the injections as soon as I could was its own reward. Second Pfizer shot on March 24, for the record, back in the old days when people were actually in line to receive it.

So, I’m pleased that New York State is offering a Vaccination Scholarship Incentive. “Enter your vaccinated 12-17-year-old for a chance to win a full scholarship to a SUNY or CUNY school.” I believe we have one of those in our household. Yup, under 18, vaccinated the second time in mid-April. So I signed up.

“Get a shot to make your future. New Yorkers age 12 to 17 who get vaccinated (or already have gotten vaccinated) can enter for a chance to win a 4-year full-ride scholarship to any public college or university in New York State. Fifty total winners will be chosen at five random drawings. The scholarship includes full tuition, room, and board, as well as an allowance for books and supplies. Parents can learn more here.”

American football

Oh, and here’s something potentially for me, as noted in the Boston Globe: “Starting June 1, you could score a VIP trip to Super Bowl LVI along with your COVID-19 vaccine at CVS. Woonsocket-based CVS Health announced… that eligible customers who received or plan to receive a COVID-19 vaccination through one of their retail pharmacies will be able to enter into their new sweepstakes program for a chance to win one of more than a thousand prizes. The winners will be chosen through weekly drawings and grand prizes over the next six weeks.”

Note to self: go to this site today. I’m going to the Super Bowl! OK, probably not. Where IS the Super Bowl next year anyway? Near Los Angeles.

Regardless, I hope this governmental and corporate bribery of the citizenry works to get more shots in arms.

Vaccine hesitancy in America

older technology = new vaccine

COVID vaccineAlthough my family is fully Pfizerized, I worry about vaccine hesitancy. A lot actually. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter ended up walking her reluctant friend to an injection site. And the friend’s family has no one else who is vaccinated. This in spite of an increasing supply and eligibility for everyone 16 and older.

And I know they are hardly the only ones. 

The situation is made worse by certain elected officials. US Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), for instance. “The science tells us the vaccines are 95% effective. So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not? What is it to you? You’ve got a vaccine and science is telling you it’s very, very effective. So why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine?”


So I contacted one of my friends, who is a health policy wonk, for help. They pointed me to some articles. This one from the AMA advises physicians on how to combat vaccine hesitancy. “Researchers have studied and worked with this type of vaccine for decades, not just the past 10 months.”

A good point, since it traditionally has taken 5-10 years to get a new vaccine. And that appears to be the #1 factor in the hesitancy.

The decade-long work of Dr. Peter Hotez at Baylor, who my friend finds very credible, may be helpful. Read how SARS and MERS vaccine research led to COVID-19 vax.

See also the CEO of Pfizer on Developing a Vaccine in Record Time.

The next piece is more of a scientific paper than for the general population. “On the basis of this knowledge, and information gained from preclinical studies with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV13, the spike protein was identified as an antigenic target for the development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 at a very early stage.” This saved the scientists a whole lot of time.

Separately, the Vlogbrothers have used their four-minute video platform to try to persuade. I think the emotional empathy by John Green – “shame doesn’t work” – may be more effective than the rational logic of Hank Green, neither of whom are related to me, but see both.

Also, watch 24 minutes of John Oliver and peruse Doonesbury.

If that weren’t enough

Some folks who are fully vaccinated nevertheless “have been diagnosed with what epidemiologists call ‘breakthrough cases.’ These infections are rare and entirely expected; the three vaccines cleared for emergency use provided robust protection in clinical trials, but they aren’t perfect.” And I fear the 10-day pause in using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will create even more resistance to all of the shots.

The Boston Globe reports that some folks are “getting their hands on blank CDC vaccination confirmation cards and filling them in with false information. “Some have made a cottage industry of it, posting blank cards for sale on eBay.” Reprehensible and dangerous for us all.

“While a large number of Americans are being vaccinated daily nationwide, health officials are recommending we still follow safety measures including social distancing. But despite the recommendations and the known benefits of social distancing in stopping the spread of COVID-19, some individuals refuse to follow precautions and resort to violence when confronted…. a high school hockey coach died after being punched outside of a bar in St. Paul, Minnesota, on April 17 following an argument about social distancing, the Star Tribune reported.”

Here’s the CDC Provisional Mortality Data for the United States, 2020. Complex stuff, so give the agency a break, OK?

Be safe. And stylish, like this young man. And listen to heart surgeon and Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), who says that getting the shot is the “best way to end the government’s restrictions on our freedoms.” Hey, whatever works.

Lydster: COVID vaccine procurement

Albany Public Library and Mohawk Ambulance

COVID vaccineRecently in this blog, I noted the vagaries of COVID vaccine procurement. I had my first shot scheduled for March 31 at the UAlbany campus, when unexpectedly, I got an appointment at CVS on March 3.

Likewise, I had nailed down for my daughter her first shot for April 17 at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany. Then on March 26, my wife received a text that there would be a pop-up vaccination site the very next day. She’d gotten a text from the Albany Housing Authority a month earlier that she should sign up, though she doesn’t recall how that occurred.

As she was heading for a meeting, she gave me the URL, but it didn’t work. Slightly panicky that the window of opportunity would close, I called the site, the Arbor Hill/West Hill library branch, and spoke to a librarian who I know. He knew the event was taking place but none of the details; I’m sure, as a librarian, that had to bug him. It would have frustrated me.

When my wife was free, she got a second website that DID work, and I got my daughter an appointment. And just in time, because the six-hour window (9-3) was down to about an hour.

The process

Since my wife was going to Oneonta to pick up her mother and take her to Cooperstown for her second injection, my daughter and I needed to take public transportation. We took the #106 CDTA bus, which was the #138 the last time I took it who knows how long ago. It dropped us off at Livingston and Henry Johnson, a couple of short blocks from the library.

One of the things my daughter does that I admire is giving extremely wide berth to those folks we walked past who were not wearing masks. My sense is that these people are on the uptick in Albany, commensurate with COVID cases inching up statewide.

The line was short, and we went through fairly quickly. The event was run by Mohawk Ambulance. Though the information from the website did not specify, I knew I had to go to the table with my daughter because she’s under 18. There were about 10 tables in all, each with someone to register, and another to give the injection.

My registrar was kind but technologically impaired. Fortunately, her teenage daughter was also there to assist her. I offered my daughter’s non-driver’s ID; as I expected, she was confounded. This was because the picture was of my daughter at about the age of six. While the ID is still valid, she hardly looks the same except to me. I was glad I asked my daughter to bring her high school ID. While not an official item, it was sufficient for the registrant.


Next, I handed the registrant the letter from my daughter’s doctor. It noted that she “has medical conditions that meet current criteria for vaccination under the Phased Distribution of the Vaccine set forth by the NYS Department as seen at” this website. I pre-emptively said, “Sufficiently vague, eh?” I could have noted the need for the doctor to respect the HIPAA requirements of his patient, but I thought of this later.

After the injection, we were supposed to wait for 10-15 minutes. Mayor Kathy Sheehan was there. She said her husband had gotten his injection at the site an hour earlier. We walked to the #12 bus, rode it, then walked home. Eighty minutes from leaving the house to walking back in the door, including public transportation. My sister’s friend in the San Diego area spent FIVE HOURS that same day.

My friend Catbird has a friend over 65 in Albany who, as of a couple of weeks ago, still couldn’t find a vaccine. I suggested that the friend sign up for everything. The county site, the state site, CVS, Walgreens, whatever, because the supply is definitely loosening up.


April rambling: agathokakological

Don’t laminate your vaccine card.

bottledTax day moved to May 17. Procrastinators, rejoice!

All That We’ve Lost.

Here are a couple of articles from Slate and Afar about vaccination cards – don’t laminate them because you may need to record a booster shot. But if you already did, don’t sweat it. And the vaccine passport in the United States is a definite maybe kind of thing.

COVID vaccine in New Zealand.

Calling Chauvin a “Bad Apple” Denies Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence.

Cartoon: God-Man trumpets his response to mass shootings!

‘Is This Patriot Enough?’: Asian American Official Shows Military Scars, Condemns Racist Violence.

Matt Gaetz, Now Under DOJ Investigation, Was Lone Vote Against Human Trafficking Bill in 2017

Doctor Fentanyl.

Tucker Carlson and national debt:  Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The Science of Loneliness.

Exhausted Workers Want More Flexibility.

French police are investigating an international Lego crime ring.

Countdown to the 1950 Census release.

Administrative Records and the 2020  Census.

NYC surgeons successfully performed the first windpipe transplant in the world.

7% of Americans don’t use the Internet. Who are they?

Dear WordPress: Really? REALLY?

John Burnside · Poem: ‘The Night Ferry’

Joye Murcison Kelly, R.I.P. Early, uncredited Wonder Woman scribe.

Triple stumper question on JEOPARDY!


My paternal grandmother was named Agatha. The definition of agathokakological is “Made up of both good and evil.” I thought she was pretty good, myself. The word is from the Greek agathos (good) + kakos (bad), which proves my point.

 How breakfast cereal was invented.

A stone and wood Dutch colonial is said to be the oldest house in New York.

Can Frasier afford his apartment?

Now I Know: The Loophole With Two Wheels and Supercalifragilisticexpialilawsuit and  The Wild Deuce and Alaska’s Super Hero Dogs and  Save Your Bread When Going on Vacation.

 The Beatles: Get Back – A Sneak Peek from Peter Jackson.

Conversation between Adam Guettel and Stephen Sondheim


Music for the Soul: An Evening with Rebecca Jade, February 23, 2021.

Ted and Lindsey – Randy Rainbow.

The Observatory – Caroline Shaw.

Piano Quintet in G minor – Bruch. Novacek/Yoo/Haas/Banaszek/deMaine | Festival Mozaic 2018.

Flintstone themes: first one and the second one.

The Cider House Rules – Rachel Portman.

Road Runner Show theme.

Six Japanese Gardens, for mixed percussion and electronics, written by Finnish composer Kaija Saarioho.

Sunshine Superman – MonaLisa Twins.

Overture 1812 – Tchaikovsky.

Coverville  1352: Lady Gaga Cover Story and 1353: The Ronnie Lane Cover Story II and 1354: The Al Green Cover Story II – Also, Thumbs!

 Creation du Monde – Vangelis.

The Rubberband Man (album version) -The Spinners.

Ain’t No Sunshine – Canen.

Prejudice – Tim Minchin.

In search of the COVID vaccine

not throwing it away

COVID vaccineFrom 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.