Getting the Covid Vaccine Shots: One Down; One More to Go

A New Reality

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

It all started last Friday morning at 5:30am with the alarms and TV blaring in our ears!!!  We had set every device we could image (include timers on the lights) to rouse us from our slumber.  Have I mentioned we are retired; we are in our seventies; we live in Covid times with little of urgency to compel us to be up early on any morning?!?!  The well-lit concert worked, and we were at our desks with electronic devices up and running and humming away on the appropriate website by 5:40am.  We were ready to secure a coveted Covid Vaccine appointment!!!

Let me provide a little background: 

All nations are handling the approval, distribution, and administration of the Covid-19 vaccines differently.  Here in the U.S., the federal government contracted with the pharmaceutical companies to purchase quantities of each company’s vaccine as they were approved (most, quickly by emergency-use approval.)  Then, beginning in late December, the government had large quantities of the vaccines shipped to each state for distribution.  The first people to receive the injections were health care workers, first responders, and essential personnel.  Then the elderly in nursing homes were visited by commercial pharmacy employees from CVS and Walgreens Drugstores, who were contracted to administer the vaccine to all senior-facility residents.  The shipments continued to the states on a regular basis and under assorted categories (seniors-over-75, seniors-over-65, teachers, etc.), each state arranged for the distribution.   Most states arranged to have their Departments of Health administer the shots—often in drive thru venues.  Florida was no different but found the process to be slow.  And so, Governor DeSantis made additional arrangements with the Publix Supermarket chain to have many of their grocery store pharmacies “jab the arms” of their customers.  I believe this decision was made with the thought that commercial pharmacies knew how to provide inoculations efficiently.  They have a long history of successful experience.

So, here’s what happened:

We knew that the reservation system would open at 6:00am.  As soon as that hour was reached, our phones, iPads, and computers were all engaged!!!  Only two of them actually got into the reservation queue.  We were, after a full hour’s wait, allowed to book.  The first device resulted in confirmed appointments.  The second device could not complete the process as the system dumped when all appointments were filled.  Roger reported that the first device was accepted into the queue at 3 seconds after 6:00am; the second device was accepted at 13 seconds after the hour.  Soooo, that means logging in after 6:003am was already too late!!!!  Those seemingly foolish preparations to assure our early “get-up-and-go” were definitely worthwhile!!!

And so, yesterday was “arm jab” day!!!

We arrive at the assigned Publix Supermarket at the appointed time.
The check-in procedure was quick and efficient. An information packet, confimed appointment for the 2nd shot in 4 weeks, and a “proof of vaccination” card were inside.
The wait was quite short. We found the Publix pharmacist to be extremely efficient, professional, and courteous.
The “jab” itself was surprisingly painless. Later, after an hour or so, there was a tightness and dull ache at the injection site. That continues now as I type but is not at all a big deal!!!
After receiving the injection, there is a required 15-minute wait to be sure no side-effects pop-up!!! Then, we were free to go shop!!! We bought dinner and headed for home.
I wonder if this “proof of vaccination” card will become our ticket to travel? I’ve read about proposed vaccination passports. And I certainly remember the yellow immunization booklet issued with my very first passport. I’ve carried mine, inside my passport, ever since!!! No doubt, some sort of “proof of immunization” will eventually be required!!!

A little information about the vaccines:

We have 2 vaccines available in FL:  Pfizer and Moderna.  Both of those vaccines are said to have a 95% effective rate (about 50% after the first shot and full 95% about 2 weeks after the second—it takes several weeks for the antibodies to ramp-up to full effectiveness).  Pfizer is the one that must be kept at super-freezing temps.  It has a wait-time of 3 weeks between shot 1 and 2.  Moderna, however, can be stored in a normal refrigerator/freezer but has a 4 week wait-time.  I’ve read that Atstra-Zeneca and Johnson and Johnson will have approval of their vaccines soon. AstraZeneca is also a 2-shot vaccine but can be transported and stored at usual refrigeration temperatures. It has a 70-90% efficacy.   Johnson & Johnson is a single-shot vaccine with 90% efficacy and may be transported and stored at normal refrigeration temperatures (freezer for transport and refrigerator for storage.)  Johnson & Johnson may win emergency-use approval as early as next week, so there will be an increased supply before too long. 

That will be good.

Let’s hear it for herd immunity!!!!