How to Jump the Vaccine Line
The Pope hadn't gotten it. The Queen of England hadn't gotten it. But the McCormicks of Fort Lauderdale got their vaccine shots last week. This is because we are extremely important and politically connected people. We also know how to jump a line.
So does Rosemary O'Hara, the highly respected editorial page editor for the Sun Sentinel. It turns out we jumped the same line, several hours apart. She wrote about it for the paper last Thursday - the day after she waited in a slow-moving caravan for three hours at a Broward County park just a day after it began offering the shots. We waited longer, about four hours, but that had to do with the timing of our appointment. And her account of how she got there at all is very similar to ours. Neither had anything to do with influence, and everything to do with timing. And luck. We both lucked onto a website that had just been blessed with access to a new vaccine outlet.
Her luck had to do with persistence, constantly trying up and down the website until it finally responded and got her appointments for her and her husband. She qualified by age, having just turned 65. Her husband qualified on stronger grounds. He suffered the effects of agent orange in Vietnam and is a cancer survivor.
Our claim is largely based on seniority, although we both have the normal abnormalities associated with vintage. But, like Ms. O'Hara, we did feel some guilt getting in line before the Pope and thousands of workers whose jobs prevent them from enjoying the isolation from human contact which is advised for those who want to survive this pandemic. We had made little effort to sign up, figuring it would be at least a month before our turn came.
But that was before our daughter-in-law went dog walking at 7 a.m. last week. She bumped into a neighbor who told her he had just gotten an appointment at a site that had just opened up and was not yet booked solid. She told our son who got on the hook, and after several calls, got through and made appointments for us both.
Our first appointment date was at 3:35 Tuesday. We were 15 minutes early and were told all vaccinations for the rest of the day were cancelled. No explanation. Our second appointment was the next day, but earlier - 12:32. If that sounds like a program timed to the minute, it isn't. We were in the line for almost two hours before a young man even checked our paperwork. When he saw we had been turned away the day before, he okayed both of us.
It was a long wait. We didn't leave the site until almost 5 p.m. But the wait was leavened by two things. First, the serpentine line of cars wound around an interesting modern looking stadium. We had never seen it, and it turned out to be the boondoggle cricket stadium which has proved almost useless. We spent time googling that history. Second, the invasion of the capitol building broke out in mid-afternoon and diverted us, and we think many of those in the long line. We started getting phone calls and emails, asking if we knew the world was ending. It made the last hour seem to go fast.
Through all this the behavior of the people in our caravan, almost all of whom seemed to qualify as 65 plus, was admirably patient. And the staff, from the kids directing traffic to the people actual sticking the needles, was uniformly cordial and helpful, even after a long day. In sum, not a bad experience, and we look forward to our second dose. But this time our experience in line jumping will be put to good use. We will figure out how to be first in line.
Meanwhile, our advice to all those trying to get an appointment: First, find an alert daughter-in-law. Second, get her a dog.