Foremost no doubt in most baby boomers’ minds today is, how can I get the vaccine? When can I get the vaccine? With a little help, writing coach Rosanne Ullman of Sarasota, Florida, figured it out.
As the needle pierced my skin, it was hard not to feel as if I’d won the lottery. It was January 4th, and I was receiving the first of two doses of the Moderna version of the vaccine. After nearly a year of fear and relative isolation, it was a little heady to see freedom just ahead.
It took a lot of serendipity to land me in the right place at the right time. Although one year ago my husband and I had no plans to relocate from Illinois to Florida, the pandemic pushed us to make the move, and here I was, only about a month into living in Sarasota. Although in the big picture I’d rather be younger, in this case being 67 years old held great advantage. Florida vaccinated key medical workers first and then invited everyone 65 and older to this odd party. Which is, they say, about a fifth of the state’s population.
Despite the news footage shown nationwide of Floridians getting the vaccine only by camping out overnight or sitting in hours-long lines of cars, my experience illustrated that inoculating the masses need not be chaotic. In addition to offering some first-come-first-served opportunities, the Florida Department of Health was scheduling appointments through Eventbrite, the website that one Facebook commenter noted got her tickets to Trap Wine Fest.
The scheduling “event” permitted people to sign up until the following day’s 800 doses were spoken for. That’s how my husband and I started. But in just moments, “sold out” popped up on the page. I’m guessing that the actual time it took was under a minute.
Trying separately, my husband and I did eventually get into the “waiting room” but no farther. My millennial daughter and her friend went to work for us and were more adept, constantly refreshing the entry page. Sure enough, they scored us tickets.
My appointment window was set for 12-1pm, while my husband’s was for 1-2pm. When we arrived at the designated building, about a block’s worth of masked, older people stood in line. Those who couldn’t stand either brought chairs or were offered a place to sit.
The workers dispensing the vaccine treated everyone with respect and were highly professional. One came through the line to make sure our names were on her list, and she approved my husband for the earlier hour. About 45 minutes later we were admitted to an inside waiting room, then to a second one. In a third waiting area, we handed over our tickets and consent forms and scheduled our second dose for roughly five weeks later. Shortly after that I was sitting in a small exam room receiving dose #1.
My husband ended up in a different area and after the stab, we met up in a large room where we were observed for 15 minutes to make sure we didn’t have a severe reaction. It felt just like a flu shot, and my husband and I both suffered nothing worse than a sore arm. The whole thing took two hours.
While people say they’re happy for me, not everyone is pleased with what they perceive as the inequity of the rollout. Why are some states ahead of others? Isn’t it unfair to require this combination of luck and computer savvy? Most of all, shouldn’t teachers, for example, get the vaccine before a healthy and, I admit, quite nonessential 67-year-old?
Younger people may be waiting some months, but I’m hoping that my fellow boomers, no matter where they live, will be eating in restaurants, gathering for weddings, traveling on planes, and hugging grandchildren very, very soon.
Rosanne’s children’s book is “The Case of the Disappearing Kisses.”