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Vaccines Are Better The Second Time Around



In my last post,
I described the “fun” I had getting my first COVID vaccine.  This time I’ll talk about the second shot, which
I just received just last week. Fortunately for me, this will be a much less
exciting post.

By the way, I should
have mentioned this in my last post, but for those keeping score at home, I got
the Moderna vaccine.

As I mentioned, there
was some HMO I had never heard of running the vaccine center for my first
shot.  In the email I got from them
confirming my appointment, they advised me that they would automatically
schedule me for the second dose when I was due. They would notify me by email
when my second appointment was, and they strongly suggested that I keep that
appointment, although they said there would be an option to reschedule if
absolutely necessary.

They didn’t give me a
time frame for notifying me but I sort of assumed I would hear from them fairly
soon after getting the first shot. Ha! 
For nearly a month, I hadn’t heard back from them, not one word.  According to my vaccine card, I was due for
the second vaccine on March 1, exactly four weeks after I got the first
one.  But February was about to end and I
hadn’t heard a peep out of them.

There was no obvious way
to contact them as far as I could tell. 
I was thinking if nothing else, I would have to battle my way through
the damn county website I had gotten the first appointment on and try to get
scheduled that way.  But I dreaded that.

Fortunately, I was saved
from that horror by a text I received from Kaiser, my own HMO, in late
February.  It said it was time for me to
get my COVID vaccine, I was finally eligible! 
Yeah, they were now able to service youngsters like me.  They lowered the age just enough to allow me
to get shot.  That was great, but I had
concerns that the fact that I was looking for the second shot, and the fact
that the vaccine had to be Moderna might be problematic. I mean, what if Kaiser
was only distributing the Pfizer vaccine?

They gave me a website
and I had to do an “e-visit” which basically just had me answer questions about
whether or not I had already gotten the first shot and which one it was.  It was clear the software was properly
designed to handle folks like me who had gone out-of-network for the first
shot.

I can’t say for sure,
but it also looked like they could handle either vaccine, at least based on the
questions I was asked.  The program
determined that I could get the second dose as soon as the week of 3/1 and gave
me one of six sites I could make an appointment at, all of them reasonably
close to where I live. Two of them were in the same facility I go to for 95% of
my medical care, so that was cool.

One of the sites was
ridiculously close to me, even closer than the place I usually go. I had no
idea there was a Kaiser facility that close to me.  It turned out that location had the earliest
open appointments, so I grabbed it, not sure where I would be going.  But it was for March 3, clearly within the
window of when I needed to get the second dose. Cool. The appointment clearly
said “Moderna—second dose” so it seemed like I was all set.

Although close to me, I
was unfamiliar with the specific neighborhood of the address so the week before
my appointment I drove over there to see. 
It was easy to get to and seemed like a relatively new Kaiser facility,
but rather small.  Obviously, this
location didn’t off any specialty services, but all I needed was a damn shot.

On the Saturday before
the appointment, I finally heard from the HMO that had given me the first
shot!  I had an appointment scheduled for
the coming Tuesday at 1:40pm (which was the time of my appointment for the first
shot).  I was glad in the end they had
not forgotten about me but geez, how about a little notice? Just three days
before the appointment they tell me? 
SMH.

I cancelled that
appointment but for backup, I rescheduled it for after I was to get the Kaiser
shot. I figured that if something—anything—went wrong with the Kaiser shot, I
wanted to be covered to get that second vaccine that week.  I booked it for the day after my Kaiser shot,
knowing I would cancel it if everything went smoothly with Kaiser.  I did consider that round two at the same
location as my first shot might be less of a hassle. I mean, a month later, the
COVID rate had gone down considerably and there would likely be a lot fewer
cars online to get tested.  And there
might be fewer people getting the vaccine too. 
News reports said that shipping delays of the vaccine due to bad weather
across the country meant that the huge locations like the one I first went to
had to cancel any first shot appointments. 
Maybe I’d go over there and see only a handful of cars backed up, and it
wouldn’t be nearly as bad as last time.

But no, I rescheduled so
I would still have that as a safety option but I wanted to get the second shot
inside, not in my car, if at all possible.

On the day of the
appointment, I got over there about 40 minutes early and was delighted to see
that there was plenty of parking and no line to get in. As soon as I walked in,
they handed me a brief form to fill out which was mostly questions that I had
already answered online.  When I was
done, I went over to register, and some guy plugged me into the computer,
confirmed I was in the right place, put some sticker on my form and sent me
down the hall to get my shot.

The facility might
eventually be medical offices, but for the time being it was set up almost like
a DMV—only efficiently run.  Or maybe it
looked like the college hall where I voted last year.  As I marched toward the office to go to, I
passed a whole bunch of people sitting in small office-type chairs.  I guess there were about 30 chairs and about
20 or so people in them.  But I was told
to head straight for a certain office, and when entered there were four desks
where nurses were giving folks injections, a bunch of chairs for folks waiting
to get shot.  But there was just one
person ahead of me.  I didn’t have to
wait more than a minute to get called. 
The nurse had to fill out a bunch of paperwork, including on my vaccine
card, and stuck the needle into me.  And
I was vaccinated.All those chairs and
people that I had passed on my way in were the folks that had already had the
shot, and they were just waiting 15 minutes to see if they had any immediate
bad reactions. So I joined them for 15 minutes, felt fine, and was
dismissed.  I got back to my car about 10
minutes before my actual appointment time! 
This experience couldn’t have been more different that the first
shot.  What an improvement!

As soon as I got home, I
went online to cancel the appointment with the other HMO.

Side-effects, you
ask?  Well I did have a pretty bad
headache that evening, and also when I woke the next morning. But feeling
otherwise fine, I ran some errands in the morning and then took a nap after
lunch.  When I woke up from the nap, I
was feeling lousy, like I might have a fever. 
I did!  It was 100.1°. I was tired
but otherwise no other symptoms.  The
fever was gone by the time I went to bed and by the next morning I was pretty
much 100%.

I sure hope this is the
last time I have to blog about COVID. 
Please.


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