Like thousands of other Virginians, I was beginning to believe the call informing me I’d been approved for a COVID-19 vaccination would never come.
And it didn’t.
The good news arrived in the form of an email from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), notifying me that my number had finally come up and it was time to schedule an appointment.
After several attempts to schedule were met with crashing websites or blank pages, I finally scheduled my slot for the sought-after vaccines.
I’d listened carefully to news reports that described a level of frustration with the registration system that raised sufficient alarm, so I felt I was well prepared for the process.
For days, I heard that recipients would not be able to choose which vaccine they preferred, and citizens should not be choosey and take the first shot that was available.
So, I was a bit surprised when the first question on the CDC registration form was “Which vaccine do you want?” There were three selections. In other words, all of the vaccines were available and choices were available — a pleasant surprise.
I chose Johnson and Johnson for several reasons, but mostly I only wanted to go through the process once and the J&J shot offered that option.
Appointments were scheduled according to what vaccine you selected, but all varieties offered slots within days of the email notice.
I received confirmation from the CDC regarding my appointment with instructions on what to bring and where to be.
Within minutes, I began receiving notification from VDH (Virginia Department of Health) that I had been selected to receive a vaccine and should schedule through its website. Since I had the confirmation, I ignored these emails and patiently waited for my appointment day to arrive.
Shortly before leaving for the appointment, I checked email and noticed an alert from CDC informing me that I had not completed my registration and an important questionnaire form was missing from my application.
After several attempts, I accessed the CDC site and filled out the short questionnaire, submitted it, and ran out the door heading for the Raceway, and, finally, a real defense against a virus that had caused disruption for all who encountered it during the past year seemed within reach.
A cool wind interrupted the first signs the of pre-spring day as I lined up outside the iconic red barn at the old fairgrounds, joining hundreds of other seniors who were lucky enough to get the call.
“Everyone take one of these forms and fill it out before you enter,” the man in fatigues shouted as he distributed a single page of questions.
I mentioned that I already had filled out the same form online and submitted it, but the cordial soldier told me that was for federal registration and I was at a state-run vaccination center.
Now, I could have retorted and explained I didn’t register at the state site, but got my appointment on the federal site, but this guy was working hard enough without my input.
It took only seconds to check no on all the boxes and gain entry into a long line that wound through the old barn, back and forth like waiting for a ride at Kings Dominion.
After an insignificant wait, I was directed to a station where an off-duty Henrico fireman prepared to give me the shot.
“Did you answer no to all the questions on the form?” he asked.
“Yes, twice,” I responded.
Seconds later, the deed was done and I became one of many seniors who have been vaccinated. With it came a sense of security that I can only hope will envelop a nation as more and more of us take the plunge.
I also left with a renewed respect for the many public servants and other volunteers who made the clinic run smoothly and provided more than just medicine to the residents they encountered.