Hell, Yes!

I suspect this is the same in most states in the US, right now: you go through a maze of websites and eventually sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps getting a text message to verify that you can be reached.

I did all that, then got a text to authenticate me, and waited a week. Then, I got a text saying I could sign up for the scheduling app, to get the shot. I did that immediately, but it never showed a schedule-grid for the shot. But then I remembered how, in World of Warcraft, we’d sometimes set our alarm to wake us up at 3:30AM to run the Stranglethorn fishing contest when everyone else was asleep. So, that’s what I did. When I checked, there was a large page full of slots – and I grabbed the upper left-est (the first one I saw) and locked it.



When I filled out the Pennsylvania government’s qualifying questionnaire, I put that I am obese (I am, if you believe in BMI, which I don’t) and an IT specialist (I am, among things) I guess that one of those factors qualified me. In the last few weeks I’ve checked with a bunch of my mostly well-off, white, nerd friends and almost all have gotten the shot. So there’s anecdote about the bias in who’s getting the shot first: white people with money.

I feel like I have (almost) won the war on the pandemic. One more day. I’ll still be in the danger-zone but I’ll call it a watershed moment, when I get the COVID-19 supplement to the armful of flu vaccines I got 3 weeks ago. I didn’t mention the flu shot here, because why would I? Nobody should care. The only thing I’ve noticed is that they use fantastically small needles now, you hardly feel them.

I suppose it’s semi-related but I also feel like I won the war on drugs. That’s right! Me. I won. I utterly defeated decades of government policy criminalizing marijuana. Me, and that approximately $150 it took to get my medical patient card. Now I can walk into the dispensary and buy amazing but ridiculously overpriced bud. Too bad marijuana doesn’t do very much for me (unless I am insomniac) but it was a small anti-government gesture that I could make. The prices will come down when the invisible hand of the market shows up and does a miracle. Actually, I think it’s going to be alcohol all over again: half the price (or more) of the product will be taxes and fees. The capitalist middle-men will make lots of money and everyone will get their slice. I wonder if, someday, the fact that marijuana is illegal at a federal level but unenforceable, will end up as a 200 year-old historical artifact.

It amuses me endlessly, in a darkly bitter way, that anti-government fanatics focus on regulations (like wearing a face-mask!) that impact their lives in the slightest are oppressive and they need guns to prepare for a war – all the time tolerating a government that can be caused to punch itself in the face. The brains behind the F-35 program did more to defeat the federal government than any army corps of irregulars can do.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    I suspect this is the same in most states in the US, right now: you go through a maze of websites …

    My county’s health department, which seems to have handled its part of the pandemic response pretty well under the circumstances (chaotic and opaque state mismanagement and distribution by and for the governor’s cronies), has explicitly requested that residents not try to use the state’s sign-up process at all.

  2. jrkrideau says

    So, in Pennsylvania all one needs is 25 or so years of experience in dealing with recalcitrant and opaque computer systems in order to make an appointment?

    Well, it does sound better than Ontario’s which seems to be vapourware.

  3. kestrel says

    Congrats on getting scheduled! That is awesome!

    My state is doing very well at getting the vaccine that they have into the arms of people. However of course we have people basically shoving in line ahead of others… the state just sent out a text asking people not to do that but to wait their turn. (They have a website where people sign up, they are then registered with the state and issued the vaccine according to the state’s priorities, starting with older people, essential workers etc.) It’s not my turn yet… but I hope it will be soon. In the meantime older people than me are getting vaccinated and that is a huge relief to me.

    I guess I should explain a bit why the state does not want people to just randomly show up to get vaccinated. In the registration system it is explained that the day of your appointment, before you go in to get your shot, you fill out a medical questionnaire. Thus they are screening people **before** they show up at the clinic or wherever the vaccine is being administered. Just having random people show up can be a health hazard to everyone already there.

  4. cvoinescu says

    Great news!

    At least this, they seem to be getting right in the UK. As of this week, they’re vaccinating anyone over the age of 55 (as well as the “clinically vulnerable” and the few remaining medical and nursing home staff). You can go right ahead and book an appointment (two of them, actually, for the two shots — you book both at the same time) on the NHS website, with minimal fuss. Just over a third of the population have had their first dose, and they’re working down the age bands in five-year intervals at a fairly good clip.

  5. Jazzlet says

    I get mine Thursday week :-)

    I was surprised how easy the UK system was to navigate, it seems to be the only thing the Government has got right.

  6. Ice Swimmer says

    I got the vaccine on Monday (i got the AstraZeneca one, which is given to younger people, age < 70 a, here, I'm eligible due to type 2 diabetes), having reserved an appointment online a bit over week before. Before being able to log in to the system I had to give my birth year and the reason I'm eligible. As I had to use one of the electronic ID* systems for the identification and the system is run by the public health system, they could probably check if I were lying.

    They instructed people not to show up until 5 minutes before the appointment at the ice hockey arena, which is used now for mass vaccinations of younger people (they don't have the facilities for the mRNA vaccines that are used for old folks).

    I did as I was told (I walked to the place, which is a few km from home). I was registered as being present and was directed to the nurse already calling my name. I entered the cubicle with her, gave my name, social security number and stated why I was eligible (so they could double check) and got the shot, which was painless, given with a thin needle and a slender syringe.

    After exiting the cubicle, I was directed to the other lobby to wait for 15 minutes on a chair in an array of widely spaced chairs, so that they could get me help if I had complications. After that they directed me to a person who reserved an appointment for the booster shot at the end of May. The process was timed so that when the 15 minutes was up, there was a nurse available for doing the reservation.

    Now, a day after the shot, my upper arm feels like it's been lightly hit with baseball bat wielded by a mildly peeved person. No bruise, though.

    * = Electronic ID card, a mobile ID or a bank ID. The first is run by the state, the second by telcos/cell phone companies and the third by banks. The bank ID is the most popular, because a bank account is inevitable, you can't get paid, get welfare or pay bills without one.

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