Monday March 29th 2021
I woke up to a cloudy day. A cold front moving through the area with a little wind and a couple of sprinkles. The cloud cover kept the high temperature for the day around eighty compared to Sunday’s ninety. Unfortunatly, the front is forecast to move back north overnight bringing tomorrows high temperature back up into the upper eighties. The real cooling front isn’t forecast to pass through until late Wednesday or early Thursday. The weekend temperatures are forecast to be back in the seventies.
One of the things I need to complete while in the greater Orlando area is my COVID-19 vaccination. I became eligible on March 15th while I was in the Fort Myers area for two a two week stay. I tried to get the single dose Johnson & Johnson in that area since I knew I wouldn’t be in that area for a second dose. Production and shipment issues with that vaccine made it a mission impossible.
The Orlando area has far more options, but the state has also opened up eligibility to people over fifty on the 22nd and people over forty today. Next Monday the state will open eligibility to everyone in the approved ages for the vaccine. The bottom line is the longer I wait the harder it may be to get. My first plan was to go to the Fedral Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) run walk in vaccine site the first thing this morning. They open at 7AM. When I woke up at 6AM there was noway I was going to become motivated enough to execute the plan. I procrastinated until tomorrow.
This morning’s TV news provided an interesting update on the available vaccine. On the depressing side, all of the county run site’s appointments for the week were filled. On the positive side, the FEMA site had increased the number of available doses administered each day to support the new eligibility. Later I learned they had also extended the existence of the FEMA site for another month until the end of May. My plan to head for the FEMA site early Tuesday morning was looking good.
In the afternoon I decided to check out the route to the FEMA site at Valencia College’s west campus in Orlando. Traffic was heavy and I had to resort to Google Maps to guide me through all the twists and turns among the gated communities of Winter Garden and Windermere. When I found the college the parking lot wasn’t full, so I took a chance. I didn’t have to wait at any of the stations.
The first stop separated people looking for their first dose with those needing their second. At the second stop a solider from the 101st airborne division verified my eligibility. Then it was on to get my temperature checked. Proceeding through empty switchbacks my next stop was the check in tent. An online account in the state COVID vaccine site was created for me. They asked all the pertinent questions about current health and possible reactions to the vaccine then stuck a label with my name and a bar code on my chest. The next stop was another soldier that read the bar code and verified I was who it said I was before I was allowed to proceed through more mostly empty switch backs to the next tent.
The fourth tent was where the action really happens. There are tables every few feet around the perimeter. Each vaccination station has four chairs. As soon as a chair opens up somebody else sits down. Within a couple of minutes another soldier arrives to read your bar code, verify you are who you are, ask the same questions you’ve already answered then asks which arm to jab. In my case another soldier arrived to give me the shot, but I think it was a shift change. Next up was checking into the observation tent. They read the bar code one more time before telling you what tent to sit in. A few minutes later yet another soldier asks how you feel, takes your bar code label and points you at the door. They seem to have a well tuned system that doesn’t need all the switchbacks they have created unless there is a computer problem or something similar.
I have my first dose of the Phizer vaccine. My appointment for the second dose is on Patriots Day April 19th although with the walk in nature of the FEMA site it is really a no sooner than type of appointment. I need to find another place to stay in the Orlando area for an extra week and a few days. That’s tomorrow’s task.