Getting Vaccinated Is Nearly Impossible Right Now

When they announced the COVID vaccine, a lot of us were excited. My autistic son was incredibly excited. This is actually the only vaccine he’s ever begged for. I told him we’d all have to wait our turn.  

Like many others, I figured it would be a while. It turns out “a little while” turned out to be last week. Oregon considers my son and all family members who live with him to be part of group 1a, meaning we are all among the first to be eligible for vaccines behind frontline health workers, nursing homes, and other high-risk populations. After a slow rollout, our governor announced that all of group 1a could get vaccinated now.

Hooray! We’re finally eligible. Now how do we actually get a vaccine? I tried Googling. I tried emailing. I tried calling and waiting on hold. No answers. I’d either get general information about what the COVID vaccine does and who is eligible now but not how to actually get one. Meanwhile, I’ve got a teenager having daily meltdowns that he wants a vaccine RIGHT NOW, a spouse that works outside the home, and a faster-spreading variant on the loose. So rather than relying on official government and provider information sources, like many, I turned to my social network. 

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I found out about a convoluted system that involves waiting on hold for three hours and registering for another hospital network as a non-member and waiting for three to five business days (or more now) in order to get a health record number at which point you could get an appointment for a vaccine. They’re out of vaccines right now. I’m not sure if they’re even processing requests for non-members anymore. There were also some folks who pulled strings, or had the right employer or knew someone who knew someone.  

After vaccine eligibility was opened up to us, the state opened it up even further. And then the state found out we weren’t getting the extra vaccines we were promised.  They did slow things down slightly, but they’re still opening eligibility next week to a group larger than the number of vaccines the state actually has on hand. I hope this works out. 

We did eventually manage to find a vaccine, using the same method that most people appear to be using. Persistence and luck. I happened upon what turned out to be a 48-hour window when a mass vaccination clinic in another county was allowing all Oregon residents in group 1a to get vaccinated. They restricted access again, which only adds to the confusion.  

It shouldn’t be this hard. But it often is. Let’s hope it gets better for everyone. 

PS – none of us has developed mutant superpowers from the vaccine so far, but I did have a really sore arm for the first day. 

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This post was last modified on January 20, 2021 9:47 pm

Marziah Karch

Marziah Karch lives in Portland, Oregon and is the author of multiple books and magazine articles. Bylines include Lifewire, Rodale's Organic Life, Tech Republic, and WIRED. Marziah earned a Ph.D. with a dissertation focusing on the information behavior of indie game designers.

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