I got my first COVID shot this week, and in sharing the experience with others I wrote the following piece which will be in the March issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION. But, that is a week away, so I am sharing my article with you now so you know what to expect. Stay safe and stay well, yours, RAY BOAS, Publisher
Shot in Keene — In the Arm
On January 22, the email arrived that I could schedule my COVID shot through the CDC VAMS system. That initial email looked like a “phishing email,” so I ignored it, but then a friend emailed with a question. It was real, I went back and was able to schedule my first shot on February 17. I did act quickly. My shot date was way before others I know.
Neighbors wanted to know if the Keene shots would be given in cars, or if walking was involved. I promised to provide a report, and one neighbor replied, “Always good to know what to expect.” I always feel that way. Thus, so you know what to expect, here is what happened.
The night before my scheduled appointment, a VAMS email arrived with a questionnaire to be completed to save time in line. Basically “are you currently well,” but that link on the email can be hard to recognize. The Keene State Owl Athletic Complex at 110 Krif Road for your shot is easy to find. Entering the drive you become part of a single line queue of cars. My overall time on site was about an hour and a half. The time seemed to fly, but you may wish to bring a book. At the end I started watching YouTube instructional videos. Check in was along the drive by National Guard members. Even though I had my form printed out, all they wanted was my driver’s license to check in. Then you are routed around to the parking area, carefully directed, with three cars in a row bumper to bumper. A team, in time, arrives, and you receive your shot.
The two nurses administered my shot and then gave me a “I got my shot” sticker, but most important a card with the date, shot batch number, and return date, but no time. I asked about the time, and was led to believe I had to go back into the system to schedule it. Confusing, but I asked several times in different ways. You are told you may leave in 15 minutes if you feel fine, and no one will tell you when. While sitting there another lady came up with an iPad asking to see my card. “Let me get you a time,” she said. But the time slots for the day I was given were filled up. She got me a time for the next day, and when I got home a VAMS email was waiting for me confirming my second shot date and time.
Later phoning with a friend who got her shot the same morning, although an equally good experience, she got a date only, not a time slot. Later at night her VAMS email said to go back on line to schedule a time. Finally, again working through the system, she got a time, but a day after the date originally given.
We both thought that a new State system would be moving New Hampshire residents off the CDC system. I emailed Representative Lucy Weber, and she confirmed on February 18, “As far as I know, to date there is no state system. In early January, we were told that VAMS was not working optimally, but not to worry because the state system would be up in a week. A week later we were told it would be up in two weeks. Last week I heard the Governor say that it would be up and running for phase 2a. Yesterday he said that phase 2a might start in April.”
I had a good experience, and hope I do not get conflicting rescheduling emails as Representative Weber received for her second shot. My recommendation, and additional reason for sharing, is to encourage you not to leave the Athletic Complex without both a DATE and TIME for your second shot. Once a State system is in place, any information will be provided by CLARION email updates.
Thanks, Ray, for the update. I was there on the same day but was there about only 35-40 minutes. They were busy but only two rows of cars so there must be times of day that are busier than others. It is a good idea to arrive early. It was busier than when I was there in January, which shows more people are getting the vaccine. People seeking to get vaccines definitely should be pro-active and go to the VAMS website and register for an account so that they can check on appointments and download vaccination certificates. Overall, I thought the process was well done for both times I was there. Thank you to the National Guard, the Cheshire County Sheriff’s office, the nurses and all the volunteers that are making it possible for the vaccine to be available for us.
Very, very helpful, Ray. My first shot is this week, so I appreciate the preview! Thank you.
Thanks Ray, much appreciated. and glad you got your first shot.
No appointments available through April 30th for the first round, and no calendar for scheduling after that.
Things do keep changing. Watch for my COVID updates from Representative Lucy Weber – RAY
I went on February 11th for my shot – was there about 30-45 minutes total. My next appointment was given for March 11th with no time specified, but was told to come at the same time. After the shot I was told to put my flashers on and wait 10-15 minutes. The flashers were their way of knowing that I had the shot and was simply waiting to see if there was any reaction. Honk the horn if you were in need of assistance. I thought that they were very well organized.
Yes, very organized, and you had same scenario as a friend of mine had – date but no time written down. The second lady who came to my vehicle (with flashing lights on) booked the date (one day later than first given) and a time. My friend not given a time ended up having to rebook on-line based on email received. Sounds as though there could be some over bookings in the offing. Those with confirmed DATE and TIME, and those only with a DATE. Let’s hope not. Be safe, RAY