For the last year I have lived in the terror that I might be inflicted with the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus. For months I stayed mostly home, and when I went out for groceries, I wore a mask and used lots of Purell.
So I was excited to get a COVID-19 vaccine this week in Riverhead at the Peconic Bay Medical Center, via United Health Care and Northwell Health. It was only after many hopeless phone calls to the New York State vaccine website did I get an email from Northwell with a number to call. The first call answered on the third ring and landed me an appointment in Riverhead three days later.
Boy was I happy after hearing stories of people traveling over 100 miles to get their vaccines.
I drove to the Riverhead address and was surprised by the ample free parking. I first had to go to the back door, which is locked but has an attendant there to check your name off a list and then take your temperature. Next, I had to move over perhaps six feet to a barcode on the wall to be scanned by my phone camera that produces about ten questions about your basic immediate health history. No pens needed as all is done right on the phone.
Then I walked about another ten yards to a table to present both my driver’s license and printed copy of my appointment confirmation. I must mention there were no lines or crowds of people. At the table, after an ID check, a Post-it was placed on my license and I went through some doors to the vaccination room. After that, I was called over to a check-in table where once again my license, the Post-it and my birthdate were checked – along with some verbal questions about my most basic recent medical history.
After that process, I was called to a vaccination station to be vaccinated. Again, I was questioned about being allergic to anything or did I have any sort of vaccination in the last two weeks and did I feel okay. Then another check of name and birthdate before rubbing alcohol was applied to my upper left arm above the elbow, followed by a very quick, painless injection. A band-aid was placed over the injection spot and I was told to go into the recovery room right next door for a mandatory 17 minute wait for any side effects.
Once again, I checked in at the desk (no waiting) so they could time my 17 minutes, while they also scheduled my second vaccination in exactly 21 days. When the 17 minutes were up, I was given my vaccination card. The whole process took perhaps 30 minutes, including the 17 minute wait.