Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo seemed unhappy last week when, by dint of my age and a change in rules, I became eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. He wasn’t mad about me, personally, of course, but he did hammer the fact that the state was already woefully short of vaccines and that adding thousands of more residents wouldn’t make things easier, especially since the state’s allocation had been reduced.
But being suddenly eligible made me step up a search for an appointment. I’d already tried the main state site several times, which showed every appointment was already long since booked, added myself to a Northwell waitlist and talked to my doctor’s office, which promised to call when something was available. It didn’t seem as if that would happen any time soon. The cancellation of 20,000 reservations at Stony Brook University was scary, even though I wasn’t one of them. I pictured thousands of determined cancellees dialing relentlessly to restore their reservations just as I was trying to do the same.
On Sunday, I tried again and discovered that appointments were available a mere 414 miles away in Buffalo. Too far, even for the motivated.
Based on my extensive research that consisted of noticing four friends in Texas had already been vaccinated, I wondered if the Lone Star State was doing a better job of distribution.
Then a little miracle happened. After some Facebook discussion, a friend of my daughter’s mentioned someone getting a reservation at a CVS. I woke up early Monday: 5 a.m. to discover my internet connection wasn’t working so went back to sleep. At 7:30, I tried again. CVS noted that two of its pharmacies, including one in Center Moriches had them. It asked me to identiy a store by ZIP code that I was willing to travel to, so I supplied mine in Huntington. I was rejected. Then I listed a Center Moriches ZIP code, since I knew that’s where the store was, and success. It gave me an appointment next week, and then asked me to pick a time slot, listing about 28 times. The first 20 didn’t work–each time slot resulted in a message of “Sorry, technical glitch. Try another.” So I did, suspecting the vaccine was going to prove unavailable and this time slot thing was just meant to torture us. (I’m a little paranoid.)
But then, success, on the 21st attempt. So now I’m booked, for the first next week, and the second, in February.
If you want to try, and you’re at least 65, go here: https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine
What the eligibility requirements don’t address is people who are immunpcompromised. Many, many people have immunity problems, including people who are organ transplant recipients, whose very treatment makes them vulnerable.
The state validation system doesn’t ask about immune system problems when it qualifies those seeking appointments. Like millions of others, I have a couple of what the doctors like to call co-morbidities, which make me more vulnerable to severe complications, up to and including death. I’m also a cancer survivor, which leaves me feeling vulnerable even though I’m eight years past diagnosis and treatment. But those who are immunocompromised now aren’t getting booked unless they’ve reached a certain age and they need help. There are, of course, reasons why, mostly a lack of definition of what condition should qualify residents to move up the line. But that doesn’t help those in need now.
Pam Robinson is editor and owner of HuntingtonNow.com