A COVID vaccine journey, from frenzied appointment hunts to partitions bursting with gratitude

It turned into almost 7 a.m. The mild of day had simply peeked thru a slit withinside the curtains, however I had already been up for hours. Searching.

I turned into fixated on CVS.com. From on line chatter, I knew that the drug shop chain’s COVID-19 vaccine appointment “drop” typically arrives among four a.m. and six a.m., however can be earlier.

There
isn’t anyt any order, no deli counter-fashion ticket. Only a mad sprint to enter zip
codes for open slots. My method turned into definitely to seek “NJ.” After all,
who turned into I to be picky? I even have a car, and that is a pandemic!

The
nation had licensed that I turned into eligible for a vaccine weeks earlier,
however no magical e mail arrived with an appointment. No, this will be an
real hunt.

However, seeking out a

vaccine appointment at CVS turned into extra like a few type of psychological
check concerning sleep deprivation … or a hellish on line casino game. The
prize: You have an excellent threat of fending off severe infection and loss of life from
the coronavirus.

The display screen so as to for all time be imprinted on my brain’s difficult drive.Amy Kuperinsky | NJ Advance Media

A seek could yield nothing. Try again? Nothing. Repeat with no end in sight until — what’s that? Availability? In Browns Mills? What time?

Oh!
Fake out. No times. Thanks for playing. Please strive again. Still, it turned into
sufficient of a tease to maintain the adrenaline pumping and clicks clicking,
handiest to carry extra dispiriting misses.

At a few point, you begin to doubt what you’re seeing is even real. Maybe it’s now no longer 6:50 a.m., you think. Maybe time doesn’t exist.

The dreaded “ready room,” a nation of limbo from which you could or might not emerge. Amy Kuperinsky | NJ Advance Media

Except

… it did. As past due night time gave manner to early morning, I searched and
searched a few extra, my cursor planted squarely at the pink magnifying
glass icon that precipitated every query. Click. Click. Click. By the quit of
this component I turned into going to have a playing addiction — with out the
playing.

I almost gave up.

Then,
someday among 6:50 a.m. and 7:33 a.m., a breakthrough. Could it’s a
miracle, I questioned? Dare I permit myself bask in hope? Had I, in fact,
surpassed this maddening check?

Cue the harps.

Ewing, N.J. — March 12. With times! Real times, with hours and minutes!!

Yes, Virginia, there’s a Santa Claus.

If before everything you do not succeed, strive three trillion extra times.Amy Kuperinsky | NJ Advance Media

Simultaneously elated and panicked
that I could lose the spot, I quick surveyed the to be had slots,
choosing 6 p.m., the trendy time. Even in my addled nation, I knew now no longer to
trifle with Friday visitors in New Jersey.

Sure,
it turned into 4 counties farfar from my domestic in Jersey City. But at that
point, I ought to scarcely care if it turned into the Jersey withinside the Channel
Islands. I had truly incurred a long way much less mileage over 2020 than any different
yr I turned into a ordinary driver, and a $1,four hundred stimulus take a look at turned into days away.

It
turned into done. I felt lucky, energized and relieved. Snapping a screenshot
of the affirmation web page, I tweeted it as a few type of ceremony of passage.

If
you advised me in 2019 that I could be excitedly posting approximately an
appointment at a CVS pharmacy, I could let you know to have a seat, slide
over a nice beverage and ask you to explain.

I booked each doses together: I could be getting the primary installment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
the subsequent Friday and the second one 3 weeks after that. I am 38,
however my response truly resembled a 6-yr-antique being knowledgeable of a family
experience to Disney World. Within an afternoon of embarking at the vaccine hunt, I
had “scored” — victory, withinside the parlance of the practice. How did I
celebrate? In vaccine-hunter fashion: with the aid of using seeking out an appointment for
every other 5th of my household. I turned into in appropriate company.

In
determined times, New Jerseyans have grew to become a not unusualplace want into a
thriving, supportive community — one which shouldn’t need to exist, however
one which I will usually be thankful for, to be sure.

The arrows directing me to my fate: a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.Amy Kuperinsky

At the New Jersey Covid Vaccine Info Facebook organization,
I commiserated with fellow vaccine hunters who stayed up or rose early,
like fishermen, to capture four a.m. and five a.m. appointments. They shared
their progress — posting zip codes and places that labored for them in
the quest. Many saintly volunteers withinside the organization ee-e book appointments for
seniors and people having problem locating one (see our story).

Like others, I saved tabs at the Twitter accounts @C19VaxxUpdates and @nj_vaccine, worthwhile for up to the moment New Jersey appointment alerts (additionally in our story), along with surprising launch times.

When humans

questioned if the smiling, masked girl at the CVS appointment
“ready room” web page knew she had emerge as related to frustration,
discouragement and sleepless nights, I couldn’t assist however laugh (in my
head, due to the fact every body else turned into sleeping).

The passport to an endgame.Amy Kuperinsky | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Along the manner, I could analyze suggestions and hints of the trade:

When it comes to CVS,

don’t begin fresh. Always depart the quest window open from the
night time/day earlier than. If you begin the consumption questions anew, you could be
pressured into “ready room” limbo from which you could or might not emerge.
If it says all appointments in New Jersey are booked, because it frequently does,
use a time-examined Jersey visitors fix: the change route. Pick every other
nation this is open for booking — Louisiana frequently labored for me — and
transfer to New Jersey whilst the webweb page asks on your nation. Voilà — you’re
in and geared up for the following appointment drop (don’t near the window!).

Speaking

of windows, load the internet site in a second, incognito (private) window in
an attempt to avoid “CVS jail.” (Under “file,” click “new incognito
window” in Google Chrome, or “private” at the lowest left on Safari for
iPhone.) What is CVS jail? That’s whilst the internet site notices you are
carrying out more than one comparable searches and suspects you’re a bot/as much as no
appropriate and boots you, stopping your go back for as much as an afternoon or so.

The vaccine will see you now.Amy Kuperinsky | NJ Advance Media for NJ

The internet site for the Hackensack Meridian Health Bergen County/Meadowlands vaccination megasite (Bergen County residency now no longer required) routinely drops appointments
at midnight, however has been freeing at different factors at some stage in the day.
Register as “guest,” then refresh, refresh and refresh a few extra in case you
see no appointments.
At Meadowlands megasite registration,
pass filling out coverage details. Scroll to the lowest of the
coverage menu and click “no coverage.” If you waste time filling in
numbers, you may in all likelihood lose your spot. Have the entirety else — like
call and address — preloaded on your browser’s autofill earlier than midnight
(in Chrome, you’ll discover autofill in “preferences” and “settings”; you’ll
nonetheless want to manually enter your birthday — with slashes! — whilst
appointments open). Here’s a video educational on a way to installation autofill for the functions of vaccine looking and a step-with the aid of using-step manual for the Meadowlands megasite.
As
with CVS, use an incognito window — and multiple device, in case you
can — to defend in opposition to consequences for clean the web page too much. It’s a
appropriate rule of thumb for lots sites. Periodically clearing your cookies and cache/browser history also can assist, specifically in case you get caught on a web page or it won’t load the CAPTCHA code important to verify the appointment.

A available preset timer for each post-vaccine ready period.Amy Kuperinsky | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Booking

an appointment turned into the difficult part. Deciding to get a vaccine turned into
exceedingly clean with the aid of using comparison, however I did have a few cause to pause. In
2016, a ordinary tetanus booster shot produced aspect outcomes I nonetheless live
with, in all likelihood due to my autoimmune condition. I delivered that
improvement to the lengthy listing of each day signs and symptoms I already need to manage
as a person dwelling with more than one continual illnesses.

Despite

this, I knew that now no longer all vaccines are the same, and the gain of the
COVID-19 vaccine could probable outweigh any risk. When I dropped my
physician a line asking approximately getting vaccinated, he simply said, “I WOULD
GET EITHER THE PFIZER OR MODERNA VACCINE” (this turned into earlier than the Johnson
& Johnson/Janssen one-shot got here out, and yes, he wrote in all caps —
all of the higher for emphasis). It turned into a go.
Dividing partitions have been one huge thanks card. Amy Kuperinsky | NJ Advance Media

On the day of my appointment, visitors

on Route three and the Garden State Parkway turned into almost as cruel as the
virtual stampede in the course of every appointment drop. But an nighttime slot
grew to become out to be the proper choice. When I arrived on the CVS in Mercer
County, now no longer handiest turned into there no line, there has been additionally no person arriving after
me. I checked in thru a CVS textual content message, on the other hand at a table where
I were given a vaccination report card — my passport to what felt like an
endgame. Source

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I observed pink arrows on

the floor, on foot beyond aisles of shampoo, Tide and air fresheners to
input a again room with a calm, low-key vibe. It couldn’t had been extra
one of a kind than the early-morning frenzy of appointment looking.