COVID Vaccine: Moderna Dose 1
Yesterday, I drove two hours to an H-E-B grocery store in El Campo to get my first dose of the Moderna COVID vaccine.
Texas is currently vaccinating Phase 1B, which includes "individuals with a chronic medical condition [such as] cancer." I find the definition confusing since cancer is a broad term for diseases with wide-ranging characteristics. Is it still considered a chronic condition if scans indicate remission? Given that I recently had aggressive cancer and a slew of cancerous lymph nodes, I thought I was probably eligible, but I didn't want to be like the spin instructor who claimed to be an "educator." I don't mind waiting my turn, whenever that is... I don't understand why there isn't a universal health survey linked to a simple algorithm that assigns everyone an exact place in line (and if someone doesn't have the internet, they can call into a hotline and have a volunteer fill out the form on their behalf). But what do I know?
Last week, I went to my primary doctor for a physical and asked her about getting the vaccine. Without hesitating, she said, "You're 1B and you should try to get an appointment." (She also said I have unheard-of low levels of bad cholesterol.) So I added "book vaccine" to my to-do-list. When I'm trying to procrastinate writing, I tend to move down my to-do-list rather quickly, so I had an appointment almost immediately. I read that H-E-B grocery stores were on the list to receive doses for distribution in Texas, so I started constantly refreshing their website. There are 297 pharmacies on the HEB vaccine website, and the locations with availabilities move to the top for a few seconds before being booked. I kept yelling out to Jeff, "Where's Brownsville? ... Wait, it's gone. ... Where's Pleasanton? ... Nevermind. ... Ooh, which one is closer, Cleburne or Floresville? ... Quick!" After twenty minutes, I booked an appointment for the following afternoon in El Campo, 2 hours away.
Medical road trips are kind of my thing. I've driven to Dallas and back for 15 minutes of proton therapy. I've driven to Houston on several occasions for consults and second opinions. El Campo is most of the way to Houston, so I already know all of the good stops: Buc-ee's for clean bathrooms and infinite snacks, Hruska's for cherry kolaches, and Berdoll's Pecan Farm for a selfie with Ms. Pearl, the 14-foot tall squirrel. It's also fun to count Trump signs once you leave Austin's city limits. My record is 57.
My vaccine appointment took approximately 15 seconds. I handed over my forms, received a paper vaccination card, and got my shot behind a curtain in the Health & Beauty department. While waiting to see if I had a bad reaction, I shopped for Valentine's candy. Fifteen minutes and a bag of Kit-Kats later, I was on my way home. My arm is sore today, but otherwise I feel fine. In 28 days, I get to do it all again!
Last month, my lymphedema therapist discharged me as being stable, so I'm down to a quarterly check-in with my oncologist. Fewer medical appointments means I basically never have to change out of my pajamas. (No, getting the vaccine will not change my lifestyle. I heard someone say, "It's like being the first of your friends to turn 21.) There's an Arctic freeze approaching Austin, bringing the coldest temperatures since 1989, so I don't plan on leaving my house any time soon. 10 degrees in the forecast?! Where am I, Minneapolis? The poor Texas kids with their capri leggings and their sweatshirt-jackets sure looked cold today at the bus stop.
Stay warm everyone! And if you're eligible for the vaccine, stay persistent and keep refreshing.