Internet and a home computer are now a utility and should be treated as such by government
UPDATE: See the end of the article for an update.
I saw the following when I was trying to sign up for one of the hundreds of Covid-19 vaccine sites all over the state:
"If you do not have a WakeMed MyChart account, visit mychart.wakemed.org to sign up. Individuals who do not have access to a cell phone or computer can ask a trusted friend or family member to create an account and monitor it for them." Permanent Reference Link
OK so we've gone way past the days when we can claim that the internet or a home computer are optional. It's time to treat this as the infrastructure that it is. Every home must now have a computer, period.
It seems like the real eligibility requirement for a Covid-19 vaccine is having the patience and willingness to sign up for each local pharmacy, the county waiting list, and each local hospital waiting list, plus all the medical schools waiting lists. Then once you've done all that, you might get one if you are in the right group. The eligibility that is being told to us by all the "updates" we're getting, it doesn't mean a thing if you can't get on the right list. Maybe because you lack the patience, or the technology, or the skill to fill out questionnaires over and over.
What we need is mass vaccination sites, with walk in availability, and no technical skills test. Not this whack-a-mole approach. It doesn't help to ridicule Republicans about being vaccine hesitant, when even those who want one can't get one.
Giving vaccines to private pharmacies was a huge mistake. Talking to one pharmacist, I was told that they have to have ten people on site before they will open one vial, or risk wasting vaccine. And they have a whole assortment of rules as to what, giving vaccines "in order" to those who signed up, actually means. It sounded like if they had 8 out of 10 people show up and the first two hadn't shown up, they wouldn't give the other 8 their vaccine until the first two showed up.
What they told me also conflicts with what I've read previously about the Moderna vaccine. I read there are 6 doses in a vial, possibly 7. And you can leave it in a refrigerator, unopened for a month before it loses potency. I read you can refrigerate the unused doses in an opened vial for a week, not 6 hours. I read that the 6 hour limit only applies if you leave it out at room temperature. So there is a lack of training, or a lack of good communication. I don't know why the news would be wrong about Moderna vaccines, or why the pharmacy would. But one of them is wrong.
The very fact that you need to use a sign up, and book an appointment online, and that's mandatory... that itself is a racist and classist way to distribute this vaccine. For me, it's just an annoyance, but it's not just an annoyance for many poor people, and in the US the poor are often minorities too.
If this is how we're doing life-or-death things from now on, then the government needs to insure that every household has a computer and a good internet connection. No more broadband redlining either.
Don't know what I mean about that? I'll let Hasan Minhaj explain:
I got an email from NCDHHS which said in part:
Dear Angelica Nelson,
You are receiving this email because:
- your health care provider, employer, or a partner organization pre-registered you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,
- you scheduled a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, or
- you provided your email when you received a COVID-19 vaccine from a North Carolina provider.
So I signed up using the registration form THEY directed me to and received the following confirmation:
Recipient status is Registered in CVMS.
Everything on the NCDHHS website seemed to imply that I was required to register with them in order to receive my vaccine and track it. But when I told this to the Durham County email help line, they said I didn't need to do that. 🤦
So, more communication disconnects.
At the moment I'm assuming this means either:
1. I should now use the DHHS mapping function to find locations where I might be able to find an available appointment. More whac-a-mole, but at least this time I'm not searching news articles to find the names of locations.
2. Someone set me up with an appointment, and didn't notify me. But since I signed up with a whole lot of providers, I have no idea who that might be.
Meanwhile, I talked to a doctor who does have a clue, and she said the best way to get an appointment is to literally call a queue phone number and wait in line, for hours if necessary. (At least I'll get to fantasize that I'm calling the All Droid Shopping Network. )
But this still isn't good. People with serious illness like me have awful abilities to be awake and alert at prescribed times. So if your hours are M-F and office day hours, my chances of being alert and on the phone waiting for a human are much smaller than a healthy person's. And that goes double for a chronically ill person who still drags themselves to work. You think a chronically ill person at work can suppress the groans they wish they could voice, do their job, and be on hold with you all at the same time?
Opening up the "chronically ill" group and then forcing us to get on the phone and stay on hold for hours, during "nice office hours" is bonkers. Please use email, or set up a message board, or let people leave a phone message, and then call them back and leave them a message with the appointment time and place. My alert hours begin around 1pm, so if the office closes at 4:30, my chances are slimmer than a lot of others. And the reason is, I'm sicker.
Again, technology is turning the priority list upside down.
Despite all this talk, and emails, what has not been clear is exactly this:
To receive an appointment at DCoDPH or our partner site at Southern School of Energy and Sustainability, Group 4 individuals should sign up for our scheduling list (formerly known as our waitlist) at tinyurl.com/DCoSchedulingList in English or tinyurl.com/DCoLista in Spanish. By signing up for this list, individuals will receive a call, text, and/or email, depending on what contact information they provide, to be scheduled for an appointment as soon as possible. All Group 4 individuals may sign up for the scheduling list beginning tomorrow at 12:00pm; individuals eligible to be vaccinated April 7 will begin receiving scheduling notifications in April.Groups 1-3 will also continue to be scheduled through this process. At this time, individuals will be scheduled for appointments in the order they have signed up for the scheduling list.
So I apparently don't need to do the on hold thing after all? Bleh, who can figure this all out? Everyone with a strongly held opinion that they're right, every document and article giving conflicting advice, Durham County changing its sign up process in the middle of the program, and, honestly? I do think I needed to get registered in NCDHHS's system. That helped, that got me to the local websites I needed and the phone numbers that were useful.