I got the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this afternoon, so I'm pretty psyched about the possibility of having a summer that doesn't revolve around my living room.
The experience of getting the vaccine itself was pretty painless. Walked from my house to a pharmacy, filled out a form, sat around for a few minutes, a purple-haired nurse stuck a small needle into my bicep (way less uncomfortable than a blood draw), and told me to stay nearby for 15 minutes. I walked over to the local game store and picked up the new Dominion set, then walked home.
The experience of actually signing up for a vaccine, on the other hand, is pretty hectic. Since the U.S. health care wasn't really designed and there's no centralization, every vaccine provider has a separate process for signing up for a shot, with different ways of assessing eligibility. I learned last week that a medication I take for psoriatic arthritis qualifies me in Colorado's Phase 1B.4 group, though the state's official website doesn't list which medications meet that criterion, so I had to check with my doctor. I then went to sign up on the King Soopers pharmacy website. They've got a digital assistant that asks a bunch of questions, none of which is "Are you taking a medication that&hellip", so it concluded I wasn't currently eligible. I next tried signing up through BCH (the local hospital, which also owns my primary care doctor's office). Their system emails you when it thinks you qualify, but I discovered that my electronic health record didn't have the relevant drug I'm taking, so the BCH system wouldn't have known I was eligible. (When I went to add the medicine to my profile I also discovered there was at least a dozen ways that this drug is referenced in the database, and I don't know if their eligibility-checking system knows the drug qualifies.) Other websites just listed the eligibility groups and asked which one you were eligible for. Several required you to sign up with an account in their system, and by the time you get through filling out such a form, the appointment slots are likely to be all taken.
Fortunately, enterprising tech-inclined individuals have set up some tools to highlight available vaccination appointments. Vaccine Spotter scrapes and aggregates pharmacy scheduling websites and covaxalerts publishes that info on Twitter. I was able to snag the convenient appointment when I checked Vaccine Spotter shortly after midnight a few days ago, so hooray for being a night owl. (I may have also lucked out that Walgreens wasn't yet on the Colorado website as a provider, so they may have just onboarded and fewer people were obsessively checking their site.)
Coincidentally, we've scheduled our first vacation (not counting a short trip to the family cabin) in over a year for next week, so I'm glad to have an extra layer of defense against potential exposure while soaking in a hot spring. There's light at the end of the tunnel, but keep wearing your mask and stay at distance so we don't blow it before we reach the finish line.