Welcome to the blog that was summarily dismissed by the Smithsonian Institute for who knows why? I'm Anne Johnson (really), and today I'm going to walk through my experience getting my first COVID-19 vaccine! I know this process varies from state to state, so your experience might be different. Up to a point. And then your experience will be exactly the same as mine. We'll get to that.
Step One: I signed up online with the state of New Jersey's official COVID website. I put in all the info, like being a teacher, and a lady of a certain age and weight. I got told I was 1C. Then I heard nothing else.
Step Two: My younger, more computer-savvy colleagues found a county registry. It was through Cooper Hospital system, which I don't use. But I registered anyway, and they gave me a date of March 27. I think they were fast-tracking people already in the Cooper system, because all of my younger, more computer-savvy colleagues got earlier appointments.
Caveat: Your experiences of signing up will vary. I had lots of help.
Step Three: On a Saturday afternoon a month ago, a younger colleague sent another link in a text message. This was through the hospital system I do use. And the vaccine site was closer too! I went through the online registration and got a date of February 24 ... more than a month sooner than the first site where I registered.
Step Four: I fretted and fretted that something had gone wrong with the online registry, because I grew up in the 20th century, and we used telephones and paper.
Step Four: On Vaccination Day, Mr. J and I drove to the vaccination site at Moorestown Mall. (I signed him up the same time as myself. Wasn't that smart?) The gig was set up in the empty Lord & Taylor department store. Enter one door, exit another. We parked and went to the entrance.
Step Five: A member of the National Guard met us at the door, made sure we had an appointment, took our temperatures, squeezed a little hand sanitizer in our palms, and directed us to a clearly-marked line.
Step Six: There were about 25 people ahead of us in line, but the line moved quickly. We were in it about ten minutes. Then we came to another member of the National Guard, who asked us if we were able to come back on March 17. When we said yes, he directed us to the numerous and well-run registration kiosks, all of them manned by the National Guard.
Step Seven: We both signed in with an extremely mannerly and cute National Guardsman (cute even through the mask!). Can you believe it? The magical Internet had indeed saved my applications! A few questions, driver's license, insurance card (optional), sign here and here. We were then directed to clearly-marked vaccination bays, where right next to each other, we
Step Eight: answered questions about how we were feeling, whether or not we had COVID, if we were allergic to ingredients in shots, and had we had any shots in the last two weeks? (I'm pretty sure they weren't talking about whiskey.) This was the only place manned by health care workers not in fatigues. My vaccinator's name was Kelly, and she loved my fairy sweater.
Step Nine: Here is the part that you and I will have in common... I got a shot! Little dab of alcohol, little pierce, band-aid, informed that it was the Pfizer item, told to follow the clearly-marked yellow pavers to the waiting area.
Step Ten: We were directed by another courtly National Guardsman to seats that were six feet apart. We were given a sticky note with 4:35 on it -- the time we could leave. We sat there until that time, and then we were dismissed. We were asked if we wanted to make our next appointment online. OH no. So we were directed through another clearly-marked area where a nice National Guardsman made our next appointment, which is on St. Patrick's Day.
Step Eleven: Out the door, with actual paper cards to bring with us to our next appointment!
The entire process, from going in the door to leaving, took about 45 minutes.
Readers, I am used to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Camden County justice system, where I go way too often for jury duty. Both of these entities are maddening in their inefficiency. People line up at NJDMV at 5:00 in the morning. I kid you not -- I did it with Heir last summer.
This National Guard dodge was completely different. I never saw anything move more smoothly. I felt like my taxpayer dollars were being well-spent. Additionally, there were lovely motivational posters hanging everywhere, but the signs said not to take any photos.
EXHIBIT A: FACSIMILE OF POSTER AT COVID-19 VACCINATION SITE
Mr. J and I emerged into a seasonably warm late winter afternoon, not a cloud in the sky.
That was yesterday. Today I feel fine. My arm isn't even as sore as it gets with the seasonal flu shot. I don't have much appetite. That's the only change I see.
It does appear that my school district will be hauling the teenagers back to school very soon. I feel like I'm ready, though. I've done my part.
I have no idea how to cancel my March 27 appointment.