For the last few months I’ve watched the painstaking progress of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign inch toward me. At 67 years old with two serious health conditions, I told myself that I would not have to wait too long to receive the shot.
I learned, however, that my state placed some other groups ahead of seniors and that delayed things. Then when seniors were placed in the active queue, they stratified the priority and bestowed eligibility on the oldest first. It was strictly age-based with no weight given to health status. This bugged me until I realized that most people over the age of 65 have some significant comorbidities.
I was due to finally become eligible on March 1st but the eligible pool would swell to 500,000 and the weekly doses available at my mass vaccination center only numbered in the 10-20,000 range.
Yesterday, I received a text from my daughter saying she heard that appointments were available right now at a pharmacy website. I logged on, entered my zip code and was presented with available appointments. The only problem was that eligibility currently rested at age 70+. I would not jump the queue.
Since the vaccine delivery site was my local Safeway pharmacy, I thought I might try something. I had heard from relatives and from reading some news stories that people could receive vaccination offers due to the threat of doses expiring and going to waste. These people opportunistically disclosed their availability in such a case and often met with success.
Social engineering is not my strength, but my interest in getting vaccinated was keen and I didn’t want to wait any longer than necessary for my turn. So, I wrote up a 3" x 5" index card with my name and phone number at the top. Then I wrote that I live very close to the store and could show up quickly and on short notice if any dose threatened expiring and going to waste.
I showed up at the pharmacy counter and quickly made my case and offered my index card. She didn’t think my chances were very good but kindly took my card.
About an hour later, this pharmacist called and offered me an appointment! I showed up an hour later and after a 30-minute wait and filling out some paperwork, I had the first dose of the Moderna vaccine in my arm.
I think this tactic could work with similarly situated people across the country. It doesn’t matter if your state has deemed you eligible or not. You present yourself as a way to make good their commitment to not waste any of this precious vaccine. You’re doing your community and yourself a service.
I have spent a lot time and attention following the news of the vaccination rollout. At times I was unhappy with the seeming inequity of the public policy of placing some groups ahead of others.
In the end, the thing that solved my problem was simply narrowing my focus to the pragmatic. I hope a few others reading this can enhance their prospects of getting vaccinated sooner rather than later.