Search for a vaccine was like Black Friday for seniors

Georgia Rindler

Guest Column

On Black Friday consumers have rushed to get the latest toy or the best price on a large screen TV. Merchandise is usually limited and each store is only allotted a certain number.

Who remembers when Coleco advertised the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and every little girl wanted one? Tyco’s Tickle Me Elmo was on a lot of Christmas lists. Kids figured Santa Claus could get them anything. There were Pokémon cards, Furby toys, Nintendo and its ensuing products, and a multitude of other treasures that had parents fighting to get for their offspring. The manufacturers had very successful advertising campaigns. The problem with those promotions was the hype made the demand far exceed the supply.

Last spring and summer there were unexpected Black Friday items. People were rushing to get toilet paper and catsup. Others lined up to purchase wet wipes, hand sanitizer and general cleaning and deodorizing products. As the weather got warmer enthusiasts were searching to buy bicycles, kayaks, and outdoor sporting equipment. My husband couldn’t find any pressure treated lumber for his garden fence. My bank was in need of coins as they were in short supply. Computers and printers were in demand as more people were working and learning from home.

The rush has moved from electronics, toys, and essentials and is now focused on something that is free. What a deal! Free is always, at least usually, good.

What could have senior citizens scrambling to their phones or computers and waiting in line for hours? The newest hot commodity is the COVID-19 vaccine.

Phone lines were jammed and computer systems were freezing due to the large volume of people wanting to get the highly anticipated vaccine. The county health department’s website registration was out in three minutes. A friend made 22 attempts to contact the local hospital when they opened registration for 100 doses. By the time she got through 11 minutes later, they were all out. I know a woman who called one place 190 times and kept getting busy signals. A recording said spots were all filled when she finally got an answer. By the time another had her husband’s information filled in online, the website showed the time slot was filled and there was nothing else available. This was survival of the fittest, or at least the most persistent. A lot of it was pure luck; being at the right place at the right time.

I spent hours trying to get appointments for my husband and myself. Good thing I’m retired and have free time on my hands. I had six vaccine websites bookmarked on my tablet and set a reminder to check them every couple of hours to see if anything had opened up. I was made aware of only two places where we were eligible that were taking names for a to-call list when their vaccines arrived. It seems most preferred the Black Friday approach: have everyone fight each other to get the product. Maybe it’s that competitive spirit; the challenge of the hunt and the thrill of victory.

I am not a competitor by nature. But I want to be protected so I played this version of The Hunger Games. I was willing to share what I had learned and was the recipient of ideas and suggestions of places to try. It takes a village to raise a child. It looks like it also takes a village to shepherd a large group of eligible senior citizens through the challenge of getting appointments for the vaccine.

Supplies are to increase and distribution sites are being expanded. This should make appointments more accessible. As I told my daughters when they ran hurdles at track meets, someone has to be last. I figured as long as I got there, it doesn’t make any difference how soon. It was too cold to go out or entertain anyhow.

Just as I had resigned myself to staying home, social distancing and masking up for several more months, I scored appointments at a Kroger pharmacy 30 miles away. I felt like I had won the lottery! Of course the night before the big day our county was under a level 3 snow emergency. By morning, conditions had improved, crews did an excellent job of clearing the highways, and we made it to our appointments in the afternoon. One more shot and we will be on the road to normalcy.

I will continue to keep my eyes and ears open for my friends and family so they too can score a win. This is not a totally altruistic motive. I want them to be protected, but I also want us to be able to “go out and play” together.

Age by age, worker by worker, or group by group, everyone will eventually be eligible for the vaccine. I appreciate all the effort that has been expended getting these vaccines into the arms of individuals. I am especially grateful to the pharmacist who stayed overnight at a hotel during a snowstorm so she would be able to make it into work the next day and distribute the vaccines. There are hidden heroes everywhere.

Georgia Rindler

Guest Column

Georgia Rindler is a resident of Coldwater.

Georgia Rindler is a resident of Coldwater.

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