First Doses & Cold Memories

5BE73406-AF3A-4600-9368-7623ADBA21DB_1_201_aDonna and I got our first COVID-19 shots yesterday. With vaccinations being administered by states and counties, everyone’s experience will be different; FWIW, here’s how it went for us:

In early January a friend told us to register online with Tucson Medical Center, which administers our county’s vaccination program. We signed up right away. In early February, as soon as our age group (over 70) became eligible, TCM notified us by email and told us how to schedule ourselves. We clicked the link, answered a few online questions, and registered for the first available appointments, which were ten days out. We were able to schedule ourselves together on the same day and time. An automated confirmation email told us where to go and what to bring: a drive-thru site at the University of Arizona, our drivers’ licenses. It even specified the vaccine we’d be getting: the Pfizer version.

On the day, yesterday, we drove to the U of A. The drive-thru operation was set up on a grassy mall just inside the campus, with tents and traffic cones. Volunteers waved us in, confirmed our appointments, gave us clipboards and pens and screening forms to fill out (are you allergic to this or that, have you ever had a bad reaction to this or that, etc), and in no time at all … less than five minutes after arriving … we were in the vaccination tent, windows rolled down, getting our shots. I assume nurses and PAs were among those actually sticking needles into people’s arms, but our guy was an actual doctor. After he vaccinated us and gave us our lollipops, volunteers waved us forward to a 15-minute mandatory waiting area. They marked the time on our windshield with a grease pencil, offered us bottled water and saltine crackers, and let us go when the observation period was up. All very well organized, friendly, and easy. As soon as we got home we signed onto the TCM website and scheduled our second shots, three weeks from now.

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So, a good experience for us. But we have connections and assets: friends to tell us how to navigate the system, a computer, internet access. What about people who don’t have connections and access? How will they know when it’s their turn, or where to go when it is? Local news outlets, I suppose, will do their best to get vaccination information out, and word of mouth will help spread it. That’s how it worked with the polio vaccine in the 1950s, right? Which was free, as I’m assuming the COVID-19 vaccination is, although I’ll note that when we signed up with TCM we had to provide our medical insurance information … and I have to wonder how it’s going to work for the uninsured.


I’m worried for people in the southern states, Texans in particular, during the current cold spell. Loss of power, frozen pipes … serious stuff, as Donna and I know from experience. It’s happened twice in the 23 years we’ve lived in Tucson. Luckily for us, friends in another part of town still had water and power, and we were able to stay with them both times. That’s not an option for people in central Texas, where the power’s out and pipes are frozen everywhere. Meanwhile, the Dutch are skating on the canals again, which as far as I know they haven’t been able to do since the winter of 1978-79, when we showed up for a tour at Soesterberg Air Base and thought we’d freeze to death.

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And how about that photo (© Rick Bekker)? Looks like an old master, doesn’t it? BTW, that’s Kinderdijk, which I flew over with my squadron mate Steve Spencer a few months after the deep-freeze winter of ’78-79.

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Glory days, what? Here’s to you, dear friends, and may we all be vaccinated soon!

© 2021, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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