When speaking of vaccinations, here in the US, we refer to them as a ‘shot’ but in England and elsewhere around the UK, they call them a ‘jab.’ No one likes needles. But somehow a ‘jab’ sounds more-to-be-dreaded. Yet in these days of the coronavirus pandemic, there is nothing more highly sought after than a COVID-19 ‘jab’ or ‘shot’ – whatever way you may refer to it.
Today was our lucky day! Charles and I were both scheduled for our first COVID-19 vaccine injections at 10 o’clock this morning. Everything went smoothly once we found the actual location and we both received the vaccinations from nurses who are designated now as “vaccinators.”
The one thing that was confounding was that in the days leading up to the scheduled appointment time, no one had been able to tell us exactly where to go. “St. Joseph Medical Center” was the only information as to the location. Even in the official email confirming the appointment, it only said “St. Joseph Medical Center.”
“St. Joseph Medical Center” is a huge complex. One person said they thought “only the ER entrance was open so it must be there.”
I had called the hospital and they refuse to take calls to answer any questions about COVID-19 and only refer people to their website, which does not include the location of where the vaccinations are being given.
I also wrote in through the “MyChart” portal to inquire and received a templated response that was completely useless. It included two phone numbers to call and neither of those were answered by humans and each of them also only referred callers to their website for information. Sigh…
After I had called both numbers to no avail, I wrote a reply back to the templated response I had received to my initial inquiry. I did not expect a response. But I received one. It was the same template as the original one with a line of original text added to it explaining that the employee responding works at a remote location and doesn’t know the answer.
This morning, we headed out almost an hour early ahead of our appointed time.
Indeed, there was a sign out on 19th Street at the ER entrance indicating that the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic was there. Hooray!
We turned in at the ER entrance and thankfully there was one parking spot available at the far end of the lot. When we made it over to the ER entrance, we were greeted by another sign that said “No COVID-19 Vaccinations Here”. What?!?
Beyond that there was yet another sign showing the layout of the hospital campus and the street address of the building where the vaccine clinic was actually being conducted.
We drove to that location – several blocks away – and then found a handicapped parking space in the back lot across the street from the medical center and hoofed it back across the street to the hospital building.
As we approached the hospital entrance, we noticed people coming out doing the ‘Happy Dance’ and posing for pictures with a wallet card in their hands.
Once inside, we followed the circuitous route around the hallways (marked by blue tape on the floor with demarcations every six feet to maintain social distancing) until we had followed the ‘yellow brick road’ (in this case ‘blue’) to where there was a herd of people waiting. (Maybe that’s what ‘herd immunity’ is all about?!?)
There was one man we encountered on the way in, who was following the blue line, but going against the arrows, and he appeared to be like a charging, angry bull. We could only surmise that after he had gotten all the way into the vaccination area he had been turned away for some reason, perhaps not having an appointment. But he would mow down anyone on the blue line in his exit path, if you didn’t get out of his way.
Once we had safely navigated the path, the serious waiting began…and the distribution of clipboards…paperwork…screening questions…and the “clean pens” (so we were informed) …and then at last into the room with eight computer work stations where nurses and their assistants were administering the injections and scheduling the follow-up second vaccinations.
The ‘shots’ / ‘jabs’ were absolutely painless. (Even less painful than insulin syringes!)
The nurse was pleasant and professional. It’s your choice whether you want the injection in your upper right or left arm in the deltoid muscle (near the shoulder joint).
We were given cards with our follow-up appointments and the record of our first injections.
After that we were sent to a huge Observation Room with chairs spaced six feet apart in which to sit and wait for 15 minutes in case any untoward allergic reactions or symptoms were to develop. The staff in that room also handed out bottles of Nestle’s water to anyone, who wanted one. That was a nice touch.
Once the 15 minutes were up, we were on our way. Charles was off to dialysis and I was on my way home for a nap. No ill effects from the vaccine, just drained from the process…
I am doing the ‘Happy Dance’ in my heart that we are among the fortunate ones who have secured our first dose of the vaccine now and are scheduled for the second one. At least on Round Two, we’ll know where to go.
But it boggles my mind why the communication on the part of a mega healthcare system, which until a couple of months ago was St. Joseph Hospital, part of CHI Franciscan Health, but after the recent merger of the two healthcare systems is now Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, is so poor as to create a daunting juggernaut for people – seniors in particular — to receive simple, clear communication about where they can receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.