I finally got my first Covid 19 vaccine/shot on Saturday morning. I also learned that I might have qualified for it a lot sooner. My job is in rehabilitation, which means that I work with people every day who are disabled. I am literally in and out of people's homes two to three times a week. Sometimes it is scary, going into a home to do an assessment for an hour, and the people in the home do not want to wear a mask. Usually, they have obliged me (begrudgingly). But I live in a heavily red state, and a lot of the people here think that Covid is a thing that was made up by democrats to make President Trump look bad. Just last week I was in a home with three people, none of whom were wearing masks. Two were seated on the sofa playing video games on the big tv. The third was who I was meeting with. I decided to get in and out as quickly as possible, and I wear PPE. But it is still rather nerve-wracking. It has been that way for almost a year, and I've been able to avoid getting Covid thus far.
Well, now I've been vaccinated. But it was weird. Urged by my brother to check to see if I could get the vaccine, I went to a website called vaccine finder. You only found this website if you went to the Utah Department of Health website, which has a hundred links on it. The vaccine finder was one link on the Covid page. It was not the main link. You had to scroll down to find it, but it was there. Once you went to that link, you checked to see if there was vaccine in your area. To do that, you had to plug in your zip code. Okay, then. That's what I did.
So then I got a list of businesses on the smartphone that showed they carried vaccine. There were names like Walgreens, Kroger (Smith's), other grocery stores like Dan's or Harmon's (both in my area), Walmart, and the list was extensive. Some had little minus signs underneath them that indicated they were out of stock with words. Some said they were in stock. Okay then, you chose one to click. Then it would lead you to another page that asked if you would like to see if they had appointments available. If you clicked on that button, nearly all of them required that you download the store's app. So now I have Walgreens and Walmart both on my smart phone. Others required that you just register an account, and now I'm receiving email from half a dozen places that I wasn't receiving email from before. On one account, I couldn't remember the password and login, so I had to go through the process of resetting the password. This required getting sent a special link and then logging on with a one-time password sent to my "verification account."
Anyway, once I got past all of that, many times I arrived to find out that there were no appointments available. They were all booked. But I kept trying, clicking on name after name. Oh...this one requires that I answer some questions first. Oh now that I've answered those questions, I have to remember my login. Oh I've never used this store before, and they want me to create an account. Okay account created, but they don't have any appointments. Darnit. On to the next place.... And so on and so forth. It took over two hours of going through things to finally arrive at one that did have appointments. But then it required that I call the Department of Health to make sure I qualify. I did that, and they approved me. So I went back and selected "Health Worker," which is what they told me to do...and then I got in and got my appointment. After that, all I had to do was show up with insurance and with proof of my eligibility. I was issued an essential worker letter back in April...and this is what I needed to use. With that in hand, I got my shot.
Look...I want to be clear that I don't mean to whine about any of this. All of that work was worth it. I got my Covid shot and the next one is on March 20th and already scheduled. In case your wondering, it was the Pfizer vaccine. However, my experience was "hard." In other words, I'm saying that it was difficult (not easy) for me to get an appointment for a shot. Since this time, I've helped four other people get appointments for shots who qualified. In each and every case, I asked the qualifying person (based on my conversation with the Department of Health) the question, "Have you gotten scheduled for your Covid shot?" They all replied, "I think I qualify but I honestly don't know how to do it? Do you have a number I call?" In fact, here in Utah, there is no number. You have to go through the process just like I outlined above. And I showed them how to do it.
My question is: why the hell is getting signed up for this crucial vaccine so hard? Only tech-savvy people are going to be able to do this. Anyone who is uncomfortable with technology is going to be screwed trying to navigate all of the pages, the logins, the signups, and the questions. Click this, press that, answer this disclaimer, do you give us permission to share this information with the department of health? and blah blah blah. It was almost endless (or seemed that way). Each and every person is going to have to go through a web of bureaucracy that is as complicated as filing taxes, and most people don't do their own taxes because they don't want the headache of doing so. Yet, this vaccine is more important than taxes. So why haven't they made it easier for everyone to get?
That being said, I hope all of you out there who have not received the vaccine get it soon. I hope that your sign-up experience is much easier. Maybe it's just because I live in a "red" state. Republicans make everything much more difficult than it has to be. I'm worried that vaccine is going to waste. There was no one in line at my appointment at Walmart on Saturday morning. There was just me, and the one person sticking me in the arm.