The last mile (possibly part one of hopefully only two parts)

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been available to selected individuals in Wisconsin for about a month now. Priorities for distribution have been developed by the state health department. The first category (Ia — health care workers, residential facility residents, and police and firefighters) is apparently mostly immunized by now, so as of this Monday, they’ve moved on to the secondary (Ib — people over 65), which involves 700,000 people in this state. However, the whole state only receives 70,000 first doses a week.  And then there’s a third Ic category, which I think involves other kinds of workers such as teachers, etc.

If everything works out correctly and there are no further problems, simple long division would mean ten weeks to finish Ib, but they were anticipating it would be longer. Dad’s GP said two weeks ago that the county had decided not to open a public clinic; people were to get immunized wherever they would usually get a flu shot (health care provider; pharmacy). But the GP didn’t think that would work for this vaccine (missing refrigeration, and you have to sit for 15-30 minutes after the shot to make sure you don’t experience anaphylaxis). “Stay tuned,” he said.

The tri-county urban area changed its mind last week and decided to open a single immunization center and pool all the doses the three county’s providers were supposed to get: 1,000 doses per week. There are roughly 83,000 people in the counties who are over 65. Some of them have certainly already been immunized during Ia, but ten weeks is now starting to look even more optimistic. I also don’t know how the second-dose question fits into this, i.e., anyone who’s immunized now will need a second dose in a month, so in a month are they going to start delivering 1,000 a week plus another 1,000 second doses?

I get that it’s a big logistical problem and this isn’t like polio, where they just lined up all the kids in public schools and dosed them. I remember doing that for MMR, too, for all the good it did me (I have had measles and rubella). The state GOP has decided that the logistics of delivering 70,000 doses twice over ten weeks is not something they need to worry about, and they plan to pass a law to make the vaccination open to everyone after March 15. Unfortunately they missed all the bulletins about vaccine shortages. Or maybe they think they can somehow surmount the laws of physics. Naming no names, despite its constant protests to the contrary, the presidential previous administration never took this problem seriously (either in terms of ordering enough vaccine or devising a distribution plans). It’s unlikely that vaccine production will ramp up to meet need until at least a month after the GOP wants everyone getting it. They are blaming this problem on our democratic governor, but we all know who really dropped the ball here.

Keeping all that in mind, I figured getting dad immunized sooner rather than later was going to be a survival of the fittest situation and sat myself next to the computer at 8:45 a.m. today to get in line. I know how this works now as I was baptized by fire with Ticketmaster when trying to get Elton John concert tickets back in 2019: the Before Time, as we’re now calling it. Dad was still in bed, but unfortunately he got up right after that, so we started the day with him angry that I didn’t hop to make his breakfast.

Manic screen refreshes were maybe not necessary; I got on right away at 9. They had set up fifteen minute intervals and allowed 8 appointments per interval. I booked a ticket for next Wednesday via EventBrite. I got a confirmation and was able to see the ticket at 9:02, but at first glance, it looked like it was for Tuesday. Dad has a dentist’s appointment Tuesday morning — they are really hard to get now, and I want to keep it — and otherwise that’s my day with full personal care coverage, so I didn’t want to mess up that schedule. I thought I had misunderstood the form somehow. So I canceled it and got back into the queue at 9:04. I got another opportunity to book at 9:27, and almost everything was gone, but I was able to pick another Wednesday time. This time when I went to check out, I again got the message that the appointment was for Tuesday, but deciding that I just wanted the ticket and I’d figure it out later, I booked it.

So this is what I got:

Somebody doesn’t know how to use EventBrite, I guess. Anyway, at 9:32 I thought I’d try to book a ticket that made sense and if I got one, then I’d cancel the second one, but by that point all the appointments were gone. “COVID-19 Vaccine appointments for the week of February 1 are full. Please check back next week for appointments for the week of February 8. Thank you for your perseverance.”

Well, at least I got one. I had to stop to make breakfast at that point anyway because there was no way dad was going to wait any longer.

Afterwards, I called the county health department, and after a forty minute hold (probably I wasn’t the only one experiencing this problem) they transferred me to another hold queue, and after fifteen minutes, someone told me to keep the appointment with the exact time, i.e., Tuesday at 1:15. My suspicion, having already canceled one ticket before I got this one, as that they are now going to have all the ticketholders from three days show up on Tuesday, that due to user error, EventBrite thought there was only one day of vaccine distribution.

Dad was already cranky over breakfast, then he was mad that I couldn’t give him an exact time for the vaccination, then he said I couldn’t read, so I showed him the ticket and then, because of the inexact Wednesday time (never mind that we probably won’t be there on Wednesday anyway) he got mad that he was going to have to sit there for two hours. Calluna the dementia caregiver coach would say: don’t tell your father what you’re doing — but since he hovered over my shoulder the whole time this was going on, it would have been hard not to. The pick, pick, picking at my incompetence started, and the only way to end it ever is to leave, so I did that for a while. Went and got some gas.

I get that it’s a big logistical problem, although I don’t understand why the previous presidential administration apparently prepared absolutely no distribution plan and failed to notice that there are 320M people living in this country who would need these vaccines immediately. I also get that it’s probably hard to figure out how to distribute the limited doses around here, but I don’t understand why they didn’t test the EventBrite to make sure it was working correctly. I get that dad is not really in control of his brain but none of this from start to finish was my fault and there is no way to make that clear to him.

To be continued, next Tuesday.

~ by Servetus on January 29, 2021.

11 Responses to “The last mile (possibly part one of hopefully only two parts)”

  1. The saga of the vaccination :/
    Good, that 45 was such a competent and hard working president irony off


    • Everyone had months to figure this out and they sat on their asses. I’m sure i twenty years it will all seem absurd and not disturbing at all [/sarcasm]

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck! Here in snowy Nebraska we are pretty much in the same boat. They are moving to Phase 1B, which includes anyone age 65 and over, regardless of health. Phase 1B also includes those under age 65 with complicating health conditions. So obviously this is going to include a lot of people, and the state will not have nearly enough vaccine, especially for everyone to get two doses. Nor is there any adequate system in place for administering the vaccine. For example, my hubs is under 65 but in the high risk category (Type 2 diabetic). Will he have to show some sort of proof of his health condition? If so, maybe now would be the time to specify that so he can get moving on it and have all his verification ready to go. But no guidance has been given by the state, so we just sit and wait.


    • I was wondering about that kind of thing, too — like you have to swear you haven’t had a flu vaccination in the last 2 weeks; how will they check that. I guess they are not going to charge, but does dad need his Medicare card? It would be nice to know things like this. I hope your hubs figures it out and you get in line as soon as you can, too.


      • My daughter teaches in Iowa and just found out today that she can get her vaccine next saturday. Here in Nebraska teachers are nowhere close to being able to get a vaccine. I’m trying to figure out what the problem is. Poor management by the state?


        • Some states just didn’t get as much vaccine as they were supposed to. (WI was one of those.) There have been accusations of favoritism to GOP states — not sure if they are substantiated are not. In any case I’m glad your daughter can get it. We won’t be able to this week, anyway.


  3. […] from here. […]


  4. They might have said that police have had a chance for the vaccine but no one at the PD where my husband works has said a thing. County health person has said in the paper they have been, I told him maybe they forgot about the city police. With that said he would rather a older person who needs it gets it before him. We got emails from our school nurse that they where looking at this week, now I see it’s the beginning of March. I am still kind of scared do to allergies, the last couple years I have developed more allergies.


    • I have seen pictures of our local firefighters being immunized, not sure about the policy / sheriff’s department.

      I think there are now a few warnings about people who suffer from allergic reactions maybe waiting before getting it.


  5. Saga of vaccination here too. My mum who is 75 managed to book an appointment (February, 8th, I guess). But I don(t know if there will be enough Pfizer vaccines : it seems that there’s a big lack of doses here in France and vaccination centers are closing one after one. So we’re waiting…

    Liked by 1 person

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