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After several weeks of scrambling to get the COVID vaccine before current supplies give out, I got mine last Saturday at a Valley Health site in Winchester. 

When I got there (a large field house), I was directed to a volunteer with a laptop so she could verify I had already registered and actually had an appointment (which you have to do the day before, no earlier and no later, you have to do it online, and you have to do it in a race for time that takes your breath away. Read on). 

The lovely lady volunteer found the verification she needed. She smiled up at me. She said I was all set. I just stood there, shaking. She asked if I was okay. Yes, but I felt like I was dreaming, which is what I said to a doctor minutes later as he administered my first shot of Moderna. What I meant was I finally felt safe but getting there had been such a trial that for a time I never thought I’d get there. 

I get the news every reputable way I can every day. So I’m pretty sure it was before Inauguration Day when I learned that folks like me 65 years or older would have priority getting the vaccine. I think that was nationwide, but for sure it was true here in Virginia. So I phoned my internist at UVA Health System to get hooked up. But he said he couldn’t. His instructions were to tell patients to apply to their Virginia Department of Health (VDH) regional districts. 

OK, that meant that as a Rappahannock resident I should apply to the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District (rrhd.org). I went to their site only to be told our district was not accepting applications at this time due to shortages in the vaccine supply. So I went up the chain to the VDH and was able to apply for a vaccine appointment there with no problem, date and time to be announced. When I called RRHD to make sure they had my information as well, they said, well, yes, just sit tight until we contact you. 

A week went by with no word from RRHD or VDH or anybody connected to them. Vaccine supplies in the state were getting tighter, and folks my age and older were getting blamed because some were actually getting the vaccine. But not me or my boyfriend. Then a mutual friend stepped in by sending us two links, one of which he had used to get himself vaccinated as well as his immediate family. I don’t know how he found these two links, but one connected to the Valley Health COVID-19 vaccination site and the other to Fauquier Hospital. When we clicked the links, we learned how, when, and what we needed to do to make a vaccine appointment for one site or the other regardless (or so it seemed) of our specific address or health district. 

Using the links to register for an appointment and then to get one turned out to be a nerve-wracking game that required a good Internet connection, a fast computer, quick fingers, and a quick mind. For a few days we lost the game, and then we won, with my boyfriend getting his vaccine at Fauquier Hospital first and then, with his help (I’m not fast on the computer), with me getting mine at Valley Health. 

It really shouldn’t be this hard. 

— The writer lives in Amissville


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