As a University of California alumna (I hold a multiple degree punch card), it felt right to jump in to help at the UC San Diego “super vaccination site.” I’m not clinically trained however there are other roles to fill: observer, runner, parking attendant. This mega-scene can handle up to 5000 patients a day as a drive through event – it’s well organized plus they have free cookies.
Mystery locations are popping up all over offering vaccines . . . fire departments, drugstores and churches. This site is a repurposed stadium overflow lot. The daily supply of vaccine is unpredictable; it ebbs and flows along with online appointments. Side note: the local YMCA has an excellent scheduling system to reserve a swimming lane during the pandemic. Too bad vaccines can’t be offered in the locker room.
After my 8-hour shift, here are the highlights:
- After a long wait in the queue, some people appreciated my “welcome to the beer garden” greeting – unfortunately there were only alcohol wipes.
- I helped a 98 year old guy use a cell phone app for the very first time – he was so excited!
- One person ran out of gas and had to call AAA for a tow. She didn’t care about the hassle because she was so happy to get her shot.
- A lady who spoke no English, singing and proudly thumping her “I got my vaccine” sticker on her bosom (her grandson translated to ensure she was vaccinated in the right place.)
- A nurse on my team received a call that her uncle just died from COVID-19. After a minute to process her grief she went right back to vaccinating people. Nurses are amazing.
- More multigenerational support. Middle-aged adults in the front seats, making sure to protect their elderly parents in the back seats, even though they can’t yet get a vaccine themselves.
- Every single person I interacted with said thank you (through a mask) and meant it.
After the last car left, 90 tired volunteers lined up in the dark to get immunized, including me. While I’m not yet eligible, and could have waited until a future phase, I’m very grateful. I’ll do more shifts and will be back in a month for my second dose – I am not throwin’ away my shot!