Now that Garry has completed both of his vaccinations and I’ve had my first, I can look back over the past couple of months of frenzy as we fought to get our shots and wonder at the wonderful people who give out the shots, the bizarre people who snarl at you on the telephone as if you are some kind of crazy because you really want vaccinations and aren’t willing to wait until “someday in the far off future” and would like it now, please.
I called UMass first to ask if they were giving vaccinations and they said “Yes, but randomly.”
“What,” I queried, “Do you mean by ‘randomly’?”
“We are offering them to people who are eligible in no particular order. But,” she said, with great sarcasm in her voice, “If you want to get them sooner, you can always try other sites.”
“So,” I asked, “Is there something you find objectionable about someone feeling vulnerable and wanted to get vaccinated sooner rather than later? Aren’t you supposed to be urging us to get vaccinated? That certainly is what you are saying on television.”
She snarled back at me, “Well, we are giving them to whoever we select without regard for any other consideration.” Was she waiting for a bribe or afraid I’d offer one?
I was — and still am — baffled by her attitude. She was supposed to be the “help line” for COVID questions at UMass, but she seemed to think people who wanted vaccines were calling to annoy her. Did I interrupt whatever game she was playing on the computer? Or a longed-for cup of coffee?
I dove full-bore into COVID vaccine websites and eventually found Garry a vaccination in a far away land called Dartmouth. At their high school. It was 110 mile round trip drive with heavy traffic. We just buckled up and did it.
Eventually, like about two weeks after we had already gone to Dartmouth on February 6, we discovered UMass had scheduled Garry for vaccination at UMass on February 1st. Unbeknownst to either of us, UMass somehow put an immovable vaccination appointment on Garry’s Google calendar. By then, it was the middle of the month. They never called or emailed. Or texted. They didn’t alert “MyChart” which is our official connection to UMass, so Garry never got the alert that there was something he needed to do, medically speaking. Normally, when you’ve got an appointment with anybody connected with UMass, they call you repeatedly with the world’s longest taped message. You have to listen to the entire message each time until, at the very end, they say “Press ONE if you are coming. Press TWO if you want to cancel.”
They do not include anything which lets you reschedule. For that, you have to call, tracking down whoever is doing the scheduling for the particular department (and they have a lot of departments) and hope he or she can access the computer and change the appointment.
For this critical event (and I’m betting they had already set up the appointment when I called), we got no notification. No prerecorded phone call. No email. No live phone call. No alert through “MyChart.” Nothing. They dropped the information into his calendar without collateral information — like when or where he was supposed to go or that he was supposed to go anywhere.
I, on the other hand, haven’t heard anything from anyone at UMass and still haven’t except for a poster telling me that they are back in the COVID vaccination business and I only got that information today. Meanwhile, I had already gotten an appointment in Sturbridge at the CVS. Across the street from a tasty looking seafood restaurant, which if it is open when I go back for round two of the vaccine, I might just decide to have dinner.
The vaccine went as smooth as silk and they notified me at least a dozen times to remind me I had a vaccination scheduled.
Call me crazy, but does any of this make sense? There wasn’t even a contact number so I couldn’t even call back and tell them he’d already gotten vaccinated elsewhere and had they just emailed or called or texted, we’d have GLADLY gone to UMass than taken that exhausting excursion to Dartmouth. Not that they weren’t extremely nice in Dartmouth, but UMass is about 10 miles away as opposed to 53.
Everyone who has “scored” a vaccination (or the first of two) has a story to tell. It’s an adventure. They got lucky. When they were about to give up, something happened. Someone had spare shots and called them. CVS suddenly showed up with shots when every other site in the state said there was no vaccines anywhere.
Meanwhile, my right arm is pretty sore, but that’s (so far) the only reaction I’ve had. I think this is a more painful shot for women. They use the big deltoid muscle behind your shoulder which is a big muscle in men, but not particularly substantial in women. Never mind. If it had hurt 10 times more, I’d do it anyway.