I got a shot of the Moderna Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine today (Jan. 16) at Jacobi Medical Center, a New York City Health & Hospitals site in the Bronx. Here’s how it happened.
Because I’m 66, I qualify in the New York State classification for Stage 1B. But it was crazy hard to find a place that would give it to me. The supply is very constrained, the web site the state set up is buggy, and there are long lists of places that are supposed to be giving the vaccine but are not — so there was a lot of detective work involved. Read more in the list of stories at the bottom of this post.
Ultimately it was a friend who emailed me to say that I could call and schedule at Jacobi, and gave me the number. I did, on Friday, Jan. 15 — then a half-hour later, people on my Facebook page were telling me they were unable to get through on that number. So am feeling pretty fortunate.
Basically I went to this site to establish eligibility, realized that their list of distribution sites was flawed and partial, and did my own detective work to find out where to get it.
I got to Jacobi in time for my 12:30 p.m. appointment. They sent me to a waiting room to fill out paperwork. Pro tip: Take your own pen!
Here’s the sequence: Check in. Do paperwork. Wait until you’re called. Your paperwork will be checked, with your insurance card. Your second appointment will be scheduled before you get your shot. Wait again to be called. Move into the nurse’s room. Wait some more. Then she does it! Then you wait some more to make sure you don’t have a reaction (15 minutes in the “observation room”) and then you can leave.
Jacobi is a little grim, like a lot of New York City public hospitals, but everybody was very helpful and efficient.
There was plenty of signage indicating that they have both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The day I was there, Saturday, Jan. 16, was a Moderna day.
Keeping the dosages straight is an issue: Each of these vaccines requires a second, “booster” shot for full effectiveness. So 28 days after my first Moderna shot, I need to get a second one. They scheduled me there during intake. If I had received the Pfizer vaccine, I would need a second shot in 21 days.
My nurse, Morra, had a desk with a computer to keep recordkeeping straight. She said Jacobi has been delivering 400 jabs a day for weeks.
Morra was patient and efficient. She said she is glad to be doing this work, making a difference in the pandemic, though she’s tired. She also has great fingernails.
She told me that people who have antibodies to Covid-19, as I do, might have a reaction to the vaccine. “Just take a Tylenol extra strength,” she said. The vaccine comes to her in a syringe pre-loaded by the pharmacist, she said. There have been repeated news reports that a container of vaccine, either Moderna or Pfizer, needs to be all used up once it has been opened. While I was there, the pharmacist came into the waiting room to ask the people at the desk how many more people were scheduled to come — to know whether he needed to open another vial. They said yes.
A woman from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office stopped in too, to ask the Jacobi folks if everything was going O.K., or if they needed anything. They all seemed a little baffled about what the right answer was. Good on you, BdB!
It’s in! Unbelievable! And … I got swag. A plastic carrying bag with a couple of masks, a bottle of hand sanitizer, two (2!) pairs of exam gloves, hand sanitizer wipes and surface wipes. And a button.
Honestly, the signage leaves a little to be desired. This is the entrance I needed to go into for Building 1 in the huge Jacobi complex. I am glad I got the info from the schedulers; I would have been baffled. This does not look like the main entrance. Also! The Jacobi Building 8 parking lot takes only $5 cash. I am curious: Who carries cash in these pandemic days? I parked illegally to avoid missing my appointment.
I went in at 12:25 p.m. and left at 1:35 p.m. Achievement unlocked: My first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Here is The Washington Post on the hunt for the vaccine.