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My Turn: Vaccination hunt requires shot of perseverance

If I read one more article or see one more commercial urging us to get vaccinated, I will totally lose it. I just hope these public service announcements reach their intended demographics.

My husband and I, who are both 71 and retired, live in Nassau County, New York — though while looking for vaccine sites, I learned there is a Nassau County in Florida where I was offered a vaccine. I am also recovering from knee replacement surgery. We go nowhere and even have our groceries delivered, meaning we have an abundance of time.

Once eligible for vaccinations, we searched for appointments. Day and night. Night and day. Midnight, 7 o’clock in the morning, 6 o’clock in the evening and countless times in between — to no avail.

If I hear the recorded Northwell Health lady’s voice one more time tell me how excited everyone is about the vaccine — yet how short supplied they are — I will scream. At least when I called the New York State COVID-19 Hotline, I spoke to people in real time who were patient, helpful and understanding while telling me the only appointments available were in upstate Potsdam, 361 iles away from me.

CVS always posted "No appointments available." NYU Langone Health notified me that I would be contacted when vaccines became available. I am still waiting. We, along with thousands of others, put our names on waiting lists at our local pharmacies.

Our New York City metropolitan area friends regularly announced receipt of first, then second doses, often accompanied by photos of vaccination completion cards. They were simply lucky or knew a computer geek who knew how to game the system. Our luckiest friend simply walked into a local pharmacy where she received her first dose then and there because they happened to get a cancellation.

My husband and I eventually got appointments two days apart at the same Brooklyn Walgreens. This involved a two-hour round trip. He was taken immediately on the day of his appointment. Two days later, I hobbled in with my walker and got on the end of a line, which I soon determined comprised those with vaccine appointments and those picking up prescriptions. Four of the five people waiting to be vaccinated were Long Islanders. There was no room to socially distance; we could not use a bathroom, and there were no chairs to sit in afterward to wait for a possible bad reaction, so we left immediately after my vaccine.

On the way out I met a man who thought he could just walk into Walgreens to be vaccinated. I explained that he needed an appointment.

On the drive home, feeling fine and fortunate to have been vaccinated, I worried about this man. Did he have access to the Internet? What about transportation to sites not in his neighborhood? Sadly, there are many people like him, unable to navigate a flawed 21st century technology system. My husband and I are somewhat computer savvy and own a car — yet we still had a hard-enough time.

Yesterday my surgeon told me that free doughnuts were served for those being vaccinated at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. To add insult to injury, I read later in the day that Jon Batiste, whom I so admire, recently performed there for those getting inoculated. It is one thing to miss out on a free doughnut, but Jon Batiste?

Mary Brown,

Rockville Centre

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