Vaccine appointments, the new clickbait


To the Editor: 

I think I can speak for most of us, and say that we are all anxiously awaiting our turn to get a COVID vaccination shot.

Fortunately, our Island has a long history of caring about others. That is why we have been very compliant about masks, wearing, social distancing, etc. While I have not always agreed with the decisions of our public health officials, I appreciate their efforts. They have worked. Dukes is the only county in Massachusetts that has not experienced a single death due to COVID-19 as of this writing. Our health officials, first responders, and frontline healthcare workers deserve a heartfelt thank-you. I also appreciate the sacrifices and inconveniences that we have all had to endure. Thank you all for your efforts at keeping me, my family, and our community safe.

After many months of watching the amazing efforts of the world’s scientific community to develop a vaccine, it finally happened. 

The governmental agencies tasked with verifying the safety and efficacy of something we are going to inject into our bodies did their job, and it is now available. The industrial complex has for months been gearing up to meet the inevitable, unprecedented demand. The logistics of manufacturing not only the vaccine itself, but billions of glass vials capable of withstanding the rigorous standards needed to contain this vaccine, the infrastructure needed to maintain a temperature of −93°F for this product as it moves across oceans and continents, into trucks, and down local roads to local communities and into the arms of billions of people is truly astounding.

The manufacturing of billions of needles and other equipment necessary to carry out the monumental task of making this available to every one of the nearly 8 billion humans on Earth is a testament to the creative power of the collective consciousness and cooperative spirit of humanity. The vaccine is now available to us much sooner than we, or most of the scientific community, would have imagined a year ago. It is the culmination of an extraordinary, worldwide cooperative effort.

Science deniers — stand down!

Even the U.S. government, after a year of denial and misinformation, has finally stepped up and is doing its job.

Elections have consequences.

But all this is a preface to the reason I am writing this.

I feel the vaccination rollout has been quite reasonable. Frontline healthcare workers first, first responders, nursing homes, vulnerable persons, etc. I applaud the rational and compassionate order followed — 75 and up. Then 65 and up, and people with two comorbidities. That’s my category — I am 68.

So they opened a website — first come, first served, in the current eligible group — go online at 8 am on Saturday and try to sign up for one of the available appointments.

On Saturday, Feb. 20, I signed on at 9 am — the message was “Sorry, no appointments are available at this time.” I later read on The MV Times site that they had sold out at 8:50.

OK, I missed it.

Not next week, I vowed.

So, on Saturday, Feb. 27, I logged in at 7:59 — “Sorry, no appointments are available at this time.”

So I hit the refresh button again and again. 

As I hit the refresh button again and again, I started to think about things — “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”; refresh, refresh, refresh. 

I set my stopwatch, and started counting my “refresh” hits — 81 in 5 minutes. Yup, I counted them. What else did I have to do ?

So then of course I analyzed what that means — one click every 3.7 seconds. Click, click, click …

Not only am I insane, I thought, I am in the classic lab rat box, clicking on the bar to get a “reward.” I am the rat. Click, click, click … 

Now, anyone who has ever taken Psych 101 knows that if the reward is inconsistent, the rat will click the bar forever. Click, click, click …

I heard from a friend that they had clicked many times before they got an appointment on Feb. 20. So on Feb. 27, I was prepped to click on that bar for a while. Click, click, click …

Was I going to have carpal tunnel syndrome after this? Click, click, click…

Since I knew it took 50 minutes to “sell out” the week before, I was going to be there for at least that long. Click, click, click …

I calculated I would hit 1,000 clicks in 63 minutes — that was enough. Click, click, click …

Then I learned that there were actually only about 100 appointments available that day — they probably sold out in the first 5 minutes.

I was discouraged …

So what is one to do ?

My mother (who was a Catholic) would have suggested praying to some saint — find the right saint, pray hard enough, you get your wish, she used to say.

I don’t think they have one for getting a COVID-19 shot.

So since I have abandoned the Catholic faith that I grew up with, I decided to embrace my own faith, and turn to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for divine intervention.

For those of you who do not know, Pastafarians do not petition their Lord with prayer, they eat pasta. At least I do. There is really no dogma for Pastafarians. Whatever works is good enough, I guess.

So I had pasta for lunch on the 27th, pasta for dinner on the 27th, and pasta for dinner on the 28th.

On the morning of March 1, I went into my woodworking shop and turned on the radio that just happened to be tuned to WMVY. The DJ just happened to be announcing that the hospital had received an unexpected shipment of COVID vaccine, and was booking appointments at that very moment! I immediately logged on to my computer, and clicked once — up came a message to click to continue scheduling. Click. There they were, the elusive appointments. I chose one, clicked, and held my breath … “Thank you for scheduling your appointment,” it read.

1,003 clicks — and a little divine intervention — was all it took.

For those waiting to get a shot scheduled, be patient. That little pellet will eventually fall down that chute into the lab box.

For those who are hesitant to get this, I understand. Especially for people of color — there are many horrific examples of persons of color being abused by the medical and scientific communities. But times have changed, and this situation is different.

The numbers and the statistics are in. Over 300 million vaccine shots have been administered worldwide. No deaths, very few severe reactions, no one who has been fully vaccinated has died from it, and no one has turned into a zombie controlled by Bill Gates (why Bill Gates,of all people?), and the infection rate is falling.

If you don’t want to wear a mask, get a shot.

If you want to have the economy fully open, get a shot, and encourage your friends to get one also.

The vaccine is a major part of getting this plague out of our lives, bet we all need to do the right thing: Step up, sign up, get the shot, and move us one small step at a time closer to herd immunity.

Don Keller
Vineyard Haven