By Gil Zeimer
I live in Marin County, California, which has a population of 260,800. Because of an ongoing shortage, my county has been very slow to vaccinate, even for the elderly population. As of early February, only about 12% had received the first dose and just 2.5% had received both.
So when a friend in San Rafael texted my wife and I that we could make our appointments through Sutter Health for folks 65 and older, we jumped onto the site.
Nothing was available in Marin County… or San Francisco… so we grabbed two appointments in a suburb of Sacramento. Though this is 100 miles away from our home, we didn’t care. We predict that it could take weeks, a month, or even longer before Marin County could inoculate us.
Because it was supposed to rain heavily that morning, we booked a hotel, drove east the night before, ate meals in our room, and were only five minutes away from the clinic on Monday morning.
One Down, One To Go.
We arrived 15 minutes early, flashed our California drivers’ licenses, and were escorted to a nurse’s cubicle. She was excited; we were elated. Everyone we saw there was smiling through their masks.
Within 10 minutes, we both had received our first COVID-19 shots with the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine. We were among about 50 people inside the spacious Sutter Health Clinic to get them simultaneously – a very efficient operation. We waited 15 minutes. After exhibiting no ill effects, we were allowed to leave with our appointment cards for three weeks away; same day, same time.
Attaining a Higher Level of Safety.
Immediately after receiving a painless injection, we knew that we were halfway to a higher level of safety. But we didn’t expect those feelings of happiness, giddiness, and general relief to continue throughout the day, that night, and for the foreseeable future.
It means that all of the safety measures we’ve taken for a year now were well worth the effort. Utilizing a layered approach of wearing two masks when we shop for groceries, gas up our cars, buy some bagels, or pick-up take-out orders has paid us handsome, healthy dividends.
We have only eaten at outdoor restaurants four times in the past year. We have not seen a movie inside a theater. We have limited our social activities to just a handful of people in our “bubble” who are just as careful about safety as we are.
And now, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, thankful that it’s not the next surge of the coronavirus. The sun seems to shine brighter. The birds sound a bit cheerier. There’s a spring in our steps. And everything in the world just seems like it’s slowly getting back to normal, or whatever that may be.
PS: My wife got her 2nd Pfizer vaccination on Monday this week; I have to wait until Friday for mine, but we are still extremely optimistic about the state of our future health.
The Hunt for a Vaccination Site: We Eventually Found Two.
By Duff Reiter
One of the first statements made about vaccine distribution, nationally, was that the U.S. Health and Human Services wanted to be sure offer the vaccine to the most vulnerable. Being over 65 and a Type I diabetic I thought that meant me.
In practice, though, I was not first in line but my mother was. She is over 75 and a resident of a senior living community. They actually came to her community and set up in the garage. In less than an hour, the whole community received their first vaccination.
She was relieved; I was elated. At the age of 88, she knew how vulnerable she was. “If I get this virus, it’s over for me. I won’t survive,” she told me. She isn’t one to mince words. Since then she has received her second dose. Being a good mother, she posted the news on Facebook.
Her vaccination made me redouble my efforts to find a place to get vaccinated. I signed up through every state, county, and local resource. I checked with friends who are doctors to see if they had any ideas, and they did, but none of the sites they suggested were accepting my age group yet.
Finally, the dam broke. My son found a website through NextDoor that was offering vaccinations in San Francisco which isn’t far from my house in Berkeley, CA. My wife and I signed up and got appointments. Then a friend who works in public health sent over another website that allowed us to sign up for shots right here in Berkeley. We also signed up for that and got appointments. We settled on Berkeley as our site.
We drove 10 minutes on the freeway to the racetrack where the vaccination team had set up in the parking lot. This was a highly efficient experience. Never leaving our vehicle, we showed our IDs and held up our phones with the vaccination appointment emails we had received. We were then directed to a line with six cars in front of us.
Within 15 minutes we were both vaccinated and given COVID-19 Vaccination Record Cards. They sent us to the far end of the parking lot to wait another 15 minutes to ensure that neither of us had a negative reaction to the vaccine.
As we left the parking lot, there was a fellow holding up a sign with the URL we needed to visit to make our second appointment. I clicked a photo of it and used that URL to set us up for our next dose. The whole experience took less than an hour. Both my wife and I were impressed by this amazing show of competence by our local government. And we were giddy with relief.
We still mask up but it does feel awfully good to be on the way to full inoculation.
From The Produce Line to The Vaccination Line.
By Paschal Sabatella
While grocery shopping at Safeway, I got a text notice that vaccinations would be available next week in my area, Marin County, CA.
As I stood in the aisle in the Produce Department, I scheduled and confirmed my appointment for 3:00pm, Wednesday, February 24, at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.
By the way, great sale on avocados: four for $5!
On the day of my appointment, I arrived a bit early to wait in line, but there were far fewer people than I expected. I drove up to the tent, rolled down my window to show my ID, rolled up my sleeve to get my Pfizer vaccination, and kept waiting for the sting or pain of the needle.
When I asked when it was going to happen, the nurse said, “We’re already done!”
So I pulled over, waited 15 minutes, snapped a bunch of pictures, and went home. Glad it happened. Looking forward to the next one in three weeks.
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PS: Our friends who are healthcare professionals all highly recommend that everyone agree to get vaccinated, especially those of us who are seniors. It will help save your life if you do get infected by minimizing the negative effects of the coronavirus and most likely keep you out of the hospital.
SGD is a San Francisco Bay Area advertising, marketing and branding agency specializing in the senior and boomer markets. We’ve successfully positioned, branded and rebranded senior-oriented companies, weaving traditional and online tactics to create compelling stories that drive response.
About the Authors: Gil Zeimer, Duff Reiter and Paschal Sabatella are Partners at SGD Advertising.