For a while, there, it was an absolute truism that among the single most frustrating activities one could indulge in was the pursuit of an appointment to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination. Starting roughly at the beginning of February, I got myself registered with three different pharmacies, plus two hospital chains (University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic). Add to that, I was checking regularly with at least two other drug stores which didn’t have automated registration or informational mechanisms on their websites. Dutifully, every weekday morning, I would go through the rigmarole of pulling up their website, marching through the steps to qualify myself as a valid recipient, only to discover that no appointments were available, even when the software seemed to indicate that, on a given day, they SHOULD be. To say that this got tiresome in a hurry is to understate badly.
At some point, I learned that the Cuyahoga County Department of Health had hooked up with Cleveland’s “2-1-1” phone service for registering with the DoH, as a first step toward that same goal of the proverbial shot in the arm. I’m not sure it was any more than two days later that a message came across on my cellphone: a vaccination event was being organized for Sunday, 28 February, 2021 at The Word Church in Warrensville Heights and would I like to schedule an appointment? Is this a multiple-choice question?!? I jumped on their website to discover that not only were there openings available, but TONS of them! I grabbed the first one up: 1:45 PM on the specified Sunday. FINALLY! Something I had taken action on really WORKED!
Sunday rolled around and with it, my gal’s usual excellent breakfast of eggs, bacon, English muffins, and OJ. Add to that a fun time at one of Steve Shives’ once-a-month hangouts, which I left 15 minutes early to prep for my trip to get my jab. The Word Church was hardly a 10-minute drive from home, and I arrived there at roughly 1 PM to discover that someone – likely SEVERAL someones – had fully prepared for the onslaught of humanity which was already assembling in their parking lot. Walking in, it was clear that whoever was running this event had it ORGANIZED. There were multiple lines for processing those coming in and these lines MOVED, not excessively fast or slow, but at a pace that let you know that things were happening. I suspect it wasn’t 20 minutes before I sat down before a woman who took my pre-made-out registration papers and driver’s license, scoped everything out, and pronounced that I was ready to go.
Directing me to an exit from that room, I entered yet another serpentine which was moving with the same pace the previous queue had. I was at the head of the line by 1:40 PM and by 1:45 … well, call it what you want: jabbed, stuck, shot, whatever. I barely noticed the needle (hell, I’ve had pinpricks which were WAY more painful!), and the most awkward part of the whole business was that I had worn a long-sleeve shirt, and getting my left deltoid exposed took a bit. I was told to set my cellphone timer to 15 minutes and after that time, if I had had no untoward effects from the vaccine, I was free to leave. That time was spent in catching up on the Friendly Atheist website and reading my latest copy of The Absolute Sound. Nine hundred ticks later, I was out of there and on my way home.
I have to say this: considering the venue, the entire event was handled utterly professionally. There wasn’t so much as one instance of a “God bless” or ANYTHING like that for the entire hour I was there. The people working the site, whether dealing with lines or checking registration papers or directing people to vaccination stations played it completely straight, and I made a point of telling every volunteer (I presume they were, anyway) how well they were handling what could otherwise have been an unmodified mess. On top of that, the website printed on the back of my vaccination card allowed me to schedule my second shot, now set for that same location, four weeks from last Saturday.
It just might be that there IS a light at the end of the end of the tunnel, and no, it’s NOT an oncoming train!