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A Shot in the Dark

By Jerry Zezima

After weeks of trying to get the coronavirus vaccine, during which my wife, Sue, and I spent almost all of our waking hours online, on the phone or on edge, I am happy and utterly flabbergasted to announce that our efforts were worth a shot, even though we haven’t gotten it yet.

That’s because we finally got appointments for our initial injections. And we owe it all to our daughters, Katie and Lauren, who had been needling us (sorry, but it’s true) to keep at it. Ultimately, after realizing their parents were either unlucky or incompetent, they signed us up themselves.

The real reason we were unable to get appointments for so long is because we live in New York, a state that had been a global hot spot for the virus and then became a model for how to deal with it, but which now, in arranging vaccine distribution, is a total shot show.

Sue and I began our interminable search for an appointment when we registered on the state’s COVID-19 website. Because we don’t have any underlying conditions (we soon developed overlying conditions that included raging headaches, jittery nerves and intestinal spasms that could be calmed only with over-the-counter medications such as wine), we were not in the first group of people eligible for the vaccine.

We were classified as 1b, which initially included people 75 and older but which was lowered for those 65 and up.

“1b or not 1b? That is the question,” I told Sue.

“Here’s the answer,” she said. “We’re both 67, so we qualify.”

We thus embarked on our long day’s journey into night, getting up with the chickens (the only ones we have are in the freezer) and staying up to the witching hour (or something that rhymes with it) just to see if we could get appointments on the state website.

We also called the “special” hotline number, which turned out to be a cold line because Sue once got a person who said, essentially, that it would be a cold day in hell before we got vaccinated.

“Good luck!” the woman said before hanging up.

The rest of the time, we were directed to the state website, where we had to reinsert our registration information only to find out that no appointments were available at any of the sites in our area.

The only two places in New York State where appointments were available were hundreds of miles away, both near the Canadian border.

“It might be easier to renew our passports and get vaccinated in Canada, eh!” I said with a horrible French-Canadian accent.

Sue shook her head. That was my reaction, too, when I cleverly figured out that even if we got appointments at one of those upstate sites, they might not be on the same day, which would involve two long round trips, and we’d have to go back for our second shots, which would involve two more.

So we registered with two national pharmacy chains where, of course, no appointments were available because they didn’t even have vaccines.

In the meantime, Katie and Lauren kept telling us to go back on the state and pharmacy websites every day, all day, stopping only to eat or go to the bathroom, and constantly click, even after seeing that no appointments were available, in case something opened up.

Two things became disturbingly clear: (a) we were in grave danger of getting carpal tunnel syndrome and (b) the pandemic would be over before we got vaccinated.

Then, miraculously, on the same day, Katie and Lauren, who had been searching, too, got appointments for us. They are right around the corner at Stony Brook University.

Sue and I are grateful to our daughters for helping us get our first shots, which will be given soon.

Until then, we are celebrating with shots of our own: blackberry brandy for me, cinnamon whisky for Sue.

And we don’t even need an appointment.

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of five books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures and Every Day Is Saturday, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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