Roundup of February 2021 Posts

Covid-19, vaccine, vials, vaccination, pandemicWe wrapped up February 2021 and recognized (I won’t say celebrated) the anniversary of a pandemic shutting down the world’s economies. With new vaccines in circulation, we may have reached—I hope—the beginning of the end of this crisis.

Like many people around the country, I am frustrated and angered by how long it is taking to get enough vaccine distributed to the states. I am particularly angry about how slow the rollout has been here in Massachusetts. The well-meaning attempt by our state government to prioritize the most vulnerable people meant a very slow introduction and some wastage of the vaccines in opened vials.

A Complex and Difficult Process

Most infuriating, however, has been the complexity and difficulty of scheduling an appointment to get the vaccine. Here’s an example from one of my attempts, a scenario that is fairly common.

Vaccine, vaccinated, Covid-19, pandemic, scheduling an appointment, February 2021 logged on to the state’s Vaxfinder web site, entered the necessary information, and saw that five sites had immediate availabilities. Yowzah! I clicked on the nearest one and Vaxfinder put me into a waiting room. It told me to go roundup all my medical insurance information, which I did.

When I returned, two of the sites had disappeared, including the one I had chosen. Three remained with availabilities. Okay, I could deal with that. I clicked on one of them and got put back into a waiting room with a 36-minute wait time. Ten minutes later it told me I had a 35-minute wait time. Thirty minutes later, I had a 10-minute wait time.

Eventually, I got to a 1-minute wait time. Double yowzah, something was finally going to happen. What happened was the screen refreshed and I now had a 277-minute wait time. I logged out.

CVS – Bait and Switch?

Like many people, I have gotten up in the wee hours of the morning to try. Nothing. My husband waited until just after midnight to try. Nada. We have gone into the CVS website multiple times to no avail. In fact, I received a cell-phone message from CVS that said,

“Hundreds of COVID19 vaccines available in the next 2 days for patients 65 and older and other eligible patients. CLICK cvs.co/COVD.”

Wow! I got right into the site and was told there were no availabilities anywhere in the state. Back in the day, we called this a bait-and-switch scheme.

A Cold Open for a Broken Process

Saturday Night Live got it right, as it so often does, with its cold-open segment called, “So You Think You Can Get the Vaccine.” Despite the humor, it highlights the fact that the most prioritized group—old people—are the ones least able to navigate the confusing, frustrating, and ever-changing websites that serve as the primary portals for scheduling an appointment.

Saturday Night Live, Cold Open, So You Think You Can Get the Vaccine, Kate McKinnon,We have people spreading tips and suggestions by social media and word of mouth. Scoring a vaccine appointment in the U.S. is like finding a pound of coffee in the old Soviet Union. We can’t get to herd immunity if the herd can’t work the system. My opinion is that, if you have to game the system to use the system, then the system doesn’t work.

Pounding the Wall

I’m pretty computer savvy and yet I’m sometimes ready to pound the wall. That happened on Monday. A friend alerted me to a hospital with availabilities, so once again I played vaccine roulette. I went to the website for Lowell General Hospital and followed the website’s directions. I entered all the correct fields in the form except for one: Reason for Visit. That field wouldn’t allow me to type in a reason, neither would it give me a pull-down menu. But I couldn’t go to the next step and schedule an appointment without entering the information. Brick wall.

I called. They couldn’t help me but forwarded my complaint. Anyone want to bet on whether that time will still be available by the time they address the complaint? Me, neither.

Roundup of February 2021 Posts

Longfellows Wayside Inn, February 2021, winter, snow

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in February

The weather this February 2021, cold and snowy, gave me good reasons to stay home and write. Suze has better weather where she lives, but published her regular Monday posts.

Here’s the roundup of February 2021 posts:

Boston and History

Books

Business and Technology

Culture and Lifestyle

 Food and Cooking

Women Challenging Change

Onward to March

March, In Like a Lion, Now we march onward into March. It came in like a lion, so I have hopes it will go out like a lamb for an early spring.

The good news is that I finally succeeded in getting an appointment at Lowell General for March 19. I’m looking forward to that and to the two weeks after that. The bad news is that our Viking River Cruise, rescheduled from last year for this April, has been cancelled. We rebooked for next April. It could be worse. It has been worse and still is for too many people.

After vaccination, I will still take all the normal precautions but it will be nice to worry just a little less.

This entry was posted in Books, Boston, Health & Safety, History, Language and Writing, Lifestyle & Culture, Susanne Skinner, Technology, Women Challenging Change and tagged , , , , , , , , by Aline Kaplan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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