Bumper-to-bumper baby boomers inched forward in their autos to score a Moderna or Pfizer fix at popup vaccination centers nationwide.
Drowsy retirees snoozed in lawn chairs waiting in predawn hours to roll up their sleeves and receive their ticket out of confinement and a measure of safety.
A pandemic door opened a crack and hope squeezed into our lives.
Hope to beat the odds.
Mike and I have been cautious.
Social distanced driveway get-togethers with friends and neighbors replaced dining out.
Exercising with resistance bands and loops and stationary bike swapped out my gym membership.
Zooming and across the room visits with 2-year-old Addison (Mike’s granddaughter by blood. My granddaughter by invitation.) morphed from the hugs we craved.
Hand washing and mask wearing and grocery wiping became ritual.
We hermited ourselves.
We have been cautious, and we have dodged the virus . . . so far.
We also have been lucky.
Others have reclused themselves and still the virus wheedled its way into their lives. Taking hope. Taking health. Taking lives.
The race to create a vaccine. The race to ship a vaccine. The race to receive a vaccine.
After viewing the curling lanes of cars and the zigzagging lines of baby boomers, I resigned myself that, although a qualified Phase 1b candidate, it would be months before I’d score the vaccination ticket.
Then I received an email from the McHenry County Department of Health. (I had enrolled a few weeks prior.)
“MCDH is partnering with Jewel-Osco to begin vaccinating Phase 1b residents who are 65 or older and have enrolled through MCDH to receive their vaccine. This allotment is from the federal supply and is separate from the weekly allotment MCDH receives from the State.”
I clicked on the attached link which directed me to the participating Jewel-Osco.
After hurriedly typing the required information and submitting, an appointment schedule appeared.
I had a choice, but not for long.
“That appointment is no longer available” responses to my requests blinked after each rapid entry. The starting flag for the frantic “Vaccination Appointment Race” fell and thousands of Phase 1b residents competed.
Pulse quickened. Sweat trickled. Breath shortened.
On the verge of a panic attack, an appointment confirmed!
On January 28th at 3 pm, I received my first dose.
Expecting a chaotic parking lot and a frustrated group of patients, I left early for my appointment.
The drama surrounding other vaccination procedures that I had viewed on CNN never materialized.
No bumper-to-bumper baby boomers inching forward in the parking lot. No snoozing retirees in lawn chairs outside the grocery store.
Quiet, orderly, and efficient my hyped vision of the event took a turn to the matter of fact.
I passed the required 15-minute post inoculation waiting session reminiscing about another pulse quickening, sweat trickling, breath shortening, panic attack provoking event 40 years ago.
Though far from the computer race for a lifesaving vaccine appointment, there were parallels.
The whole process of scoring a vaccination appointment reminded me of scoring tickets to Bruce Springsteen concerts. As an avid fan, I’d been to a dozen of the Boss’ performances. A few involved chaotic parking lots, winding lines outside Ticketron offices, and repeated phone dialing until the busy signal abated and an agent answered.
After scoring tickets, I’d celebrate with a tequila shot (Bruce’s first alcoholic drink).
The 15-minute waiting session ended with me thinking how lucky I’d been to be unscathed by Covid . . . so far.
I snagged a bottle of champagne on my way out to celebrate . . . to celebrate the present . . . to celebrate my luck.