The Vaccination Experience

After I received my first Pfizer vaccination yesterday, I was handed a card documenting the fact. As I took the card I immediately flashed back to a time in the mid-1950s when I was handed a similar card after waiting in line for the Salk Polio vaccine. I remember we walked from our house to the Community Center where we were given sugar cubes with the vaccine.

With so many people anxious to get the COVID vaccination I thought I might share my experience. With all the news about the scarcity of the vaccine and the challenges in administering it, I did not have high hopes of getting a vaccination in a timely fashion. I have been out of town for most of February which added to the challenge. On Monday though, February 15, I thought I would check to see what was going on in my home county, Alameda County. I was surprised to find that there were a number of slots open for later in the week when I would be home. I signed up for 4:00 p.m. on Friday, February 19. The signup process left me a bit anxious since it said that only Berkeley residents were eligible. I called the phone number on appointment verification email and was informed that all Alameda County residents over 65 were eligible.

I made it a point of arriving a few minutes early, driving the short distance from my house to the parking lot at Golden Gate Fields race track. It was 3:58 when I arrived at the first check point where I was asked to show my driver’s license and to confirm I was over 65. From there I was directed to a line of waiting cars.

At the second check point the attendant noted my appointment reference number. I had printed off the email with the QR code. From there it was a short wait to the vacation station. I had worn a t-shirt with a light jacket thinking I’d want have my arm readily available. I took off my jacket in anticipation. A sign at the second station said no photographs, so I put my phone down.

On the attendant’s cue I pulled forward to the injection station. The attendant was quite friendly, noted I had my BASK (Bay Area Sea Kayaking) hat on and said he “lived to dive.” We chatted briefly and then I opened the car door to give him access to my arm. After the injection, a second attendant wrote the number 442 on my windshield. Then I was off to the next station.

Here the attendant held up a QR code for me to scan with my phone; the code taking me to a website to sign up for my second dose. Then it was off to the “observation lounge” to wait to make sure I didn’t have any immediate allergic reaction. At 4:42 the attendant gave me the thumbs up and five minutes later I was home.