This morning I signed up online for the Covid vaccination being scheduled now for the 75-and-over age group. I offer my experience for those considering the online option.
You don’t have to be highly adept at online registration but it helps to be somewhat acquainted with the way online forms work. There is a bit of navigation involved.
For one thing, you will get your Patient ID by email. Write it down. You will then create a 10-character password but be aware that you must use a symbol. Don’t forget to write the password down also.
Another tricky spot is your date of birth. A calendar for January 2021 will pop up. I recommend entering the birth year first, from the drop-down menu on the right side. Then go to the calendar and scroll back or forward to your month and then click on the date within that month. If you do the month and day first, the system will think you were born in 2021, so enter the year first!
You are advised within the sign-up form to check with your doctor to clarify any medical issues and prescriptions you have. The form asks about blood thinners because you will get poked! It also asks about immediate allergic reactions, another subject for your doctor to advise on. You will also be asked about any possible Covid symptoms. You will be asked to sign a waiver permitting your medical information to be shared with appropriate parties.
I have heard a couple of rumors, which like most rumors are distortions of the facts. One had to do with insurance. The friend I was talking to had heard on TV that you can’t get the shot if you don’t have insurance. In fact, the email that I got stated “Insurance info is optional.” The form does ask for insurance and explains that personal insurance can help defray the cost of administering the vaccine and make more vaccine available to people without insurance. The vaccination itself is free to all.
The second rumor, over TV and social media, was that people with diabetes should not get the vaccine. I fact-checked this with the American Diabetes Association website and in fact, those with diabetes should urgently get it, as Covid has an especially bad effect on diabetics. That is not so clear about “pre-diabetics” but again, check with your doctor. There should be time to contact your doctor before your appointment. By the time I got online in late morning Monday, Jan. 25, the rest of January had filled up and I landed an appointment for late afternoon Feb. 6. They seem to offer time slots a week at a time, and even on Feb. 6, the morning and evening time slots were full.
You will also be able to download multi-page fact sheets for the two brands of vaccine being administered – Moderna and Pfizer-Biontech. These look like the fact sheets you get to take home after any procedure. The text is basically the same on both fact sheets, from “What Is Covid-19?” to how the vaccine works, to what to watch out for and direct contact information. You have the right to choose between the two, or no vaccination at all. The fact sheets state transparently that neither vaccine will prevent Covid and may not protect everyone, but the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved them for “emergency use,” based on scientific evidence that the potential benefit outweighs the risk, and the fact that no alternative as yet exists. The duration of protection is “unknown” as well.
It may help to know that the vaccine is injected into muscle and does not contain Covid-19.
Personally, I am anticipating a sore arm for a while, like back in ‘50s when we got vaccinated for smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio. The smallpox vaccination left a tiny, telltale round scar on your upper arm. Everyone had one. Small price to pay for lifetime protection against debilitating disease.