Why you should book your vaccine appointment, right now.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

“Can you just show me proof of eligibility?”

The short answer was no.

The woman manning one of two desks at the state-run vaccination site had already checked my license and my registration number. Now, she wanted me to show her what made me eligible to receive the vaccine.

I could not, because at the time of my appointment I was not yet eligible in the state of New York.

I pretended to have a note from my doctor lost somewhere in my email. As I looked, knowing full well there was nothing for me to find, I apologized for the delay.

“You just have to flash it — I’m not even gonna read it.”

I began to panic. It was the exact situation I had feared when I booked the appointment not even a week earlier. Everyone said I would be fine, telling tales of their own vaccination experiences.

“They didn’t even ask me for proof.”

“I just walked right in.”

“I brought a note with me but nobody ever asked to see it.”

“They didn’t even ask for my license.”

And yet here I was, being asked to prove I was something I knew I obviously was not.

I apologized once again, and she asked me to just tell her what made me eligible. I lied. She smiled and directed me to the next circle of this personal hell I was experiencing.

It had been about three full months since New York’s vaccine rollout had officially begun. A large portion of the state’s senior population was vaccinated. Health care workers who wanted the shot had it. Millions of essential workers who had shown up to their jobs every day for the last year had been given the go ahead to sign up. The media, however, was not among those workers. We had been very questionably left off the list of “essential” industries made eligible.

I was growing antsy — as I began to realize it may be months, not weeks, by the time I was able to make an appointment.

I logged into the state vaccination site every morning to see what kinds of appointments were available. Most days they were booking several weeks out, with appointments at the closest locations available as far away as May 31. I started to realize if I was forced to wait until then, realistically, I wouldn’t be fully vaccinated until late June — or possibly even into July.

I had been encouraged to “just sign up.”

Friends and family pushing me to make an appointment — despite not being eligible.

One morning I logged on and saw there were several hundred appointments available for the following week at a site about an hour north. They were offering Pfizer as well as Johnson and Johnson. I had always thought I would prefer the single shot. Faster — easier — better for someone who has a greater chance of beating the virus should I still end up getting it.

I thought about those appointments in late May. I thought about how a large majority of my friends and family were already fully protected. I thought about how, save for six weeks last spring, I showed up to work each and every day. Not on the front lines of the fight against the pandemic, but still I was there with other coworkers — all of us putting ourselves at risk by congregating in the newsroom on a daily basis.

I decided it was time. I booked it.

There was hardly anyone at the vaccination site once I got inside, even though the parking lot was full. Maybe it was the space — an old Sears department store — maybe I just expected a larger crowd.

Everyone had a smile on their face. The National Guardsman who took my temperature at the door — the woman who checked me in and more than likely saw right through my lie — the man and woman sitting at the table where I was about to receive the shot.

“Hi there how are you?”

“Nervous” — I said to him.

“That’s makes two of us.”

I wondered briefly why he would be nervous, but decided it was better to focus on my own issues. What if they too asked me to prove I was eligible?

The other person at the table asked me to show her my license again and to confirm my registration number, as well as my basic contact information.

The man asked me a series of questions about my health, any potential exposure to the virus, and if I’d been tested for it recently.

I said yes. I had been rapid tested the day before as reassurance for myself that I had a clean bill of health before getting the shot. He seemed surprised, and immediately turned to another table and asked someone else to come over.

I wondered why this would have been an issue, as if I was silly enough to show up for the appointment after just testing positive.

“So he got a rapid test yesterday.”

“Mmm a rapid test?”

“It was negative,” I told them both.

We continued with the process. He asked in which arm I wanted to get the shot, I told him my right. He gave it to me, I waited 15 minutes with a handful of other people to see if there was a reaction, there was not. I left and went to work. All done.

I don’t feel guilty about getting vaccinated before it was “my turn.”

If there is anything this phase of the pandemic has taught me — as hard as those in charge may try to make everything fair and equal, it never will be.

We all know someone who has said they don’t trust the shot, they want to know what’s going in their body, they want to wait a few months to see if it’s safe — whatever their reasoning is, I’m fine with. What I’m not fine with is when those people are eligible and are refusing to make use of their eligibility when there are people like me — desperate to finally feel safe and protected, waiting for “my turn.”

Not to mention the hundreds of millions of people around the world who don’t have any access to the shot at all. There are entire countries where no one, not one single person, has been vaccinated. Here we are in America, rich with doses we are obviously not sharing with any other nations — and our Governor has the audacity to withhold the vaccine from people who actually want it?

This Tuesday, April 6, all New Yorkers age 16 or older will be eligible. That will make about 15 million people, around 75 percent of the state’s population, eligible for the vaccine.

That should concern you, and it should make it even more clear why I chose to get vaccinated as early as I felt I could.

To reach even the low end of herd immunity, every single eligible adult in the state of New York would need to get the shot. Do you know how unlikely that is?

Imagine asking 15 million people to do anything and expecting that every single one of them would.

It’s unrealistic to think the vaccine will mean the end of this virus. It may mean the end of the pandemic, but our troubles will extend far beyond the spring.

I chose to put myself first.

I chose to take matters into my own hands after living at the mercy of the virus for the last 12 months.

I do not want to force my opinion on others. If you really don’t want to get the vaccine, I respect that. But if anyone is on the fence because they don’t think it’s “their turn” — I encourage you to put yourself first.



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