For some, immunization represents the opportunity to spend time with their grandchildren. For others, it is the first step towards a slow return to normalcy. Across the United States, pharmacies on Friday began dispensing one million doses shipped by the federal government.
On a cold day in Bethesda, a Washington suburb, a steady stream of seniors arrive to receive the first of two doses of Moderna’s vaccine at the local CVS pharmacy.
“It’s wonderful, it’s really practical,” says 76-year-old Ted Pochter. His wife Liz explains that it was their daughter who registered them online the day before before 6:30 in the morning.
“I was trying on my phone and it was already full, but she was on the computer and there she succeeded,” says the 67-year-old woman who works for the National Gallery of Art in the capital.
The prick “still hurts a little,” he adds, laughing.
Some 6,500 pharmacies, some of which are inside supermarkets, have begun administering the first doses in partnership with federal authorities. In total, the program involves some 40 thousand establishments.
The aim is to ease pressure on local health authorities and make it easier for people who are already used to getting it vaccinated against the flu in large American pharmacy chains.
After an erratic start, the vaccination rate in the United States is increasing. Some 35.8 million people have received at least one dose.
With the help of the children
Like the Pochters, Tahmineh Mirmirani needed her son’s help to connect and make an appointment early Thursday.
Now 81, this woman who worked as a journalist in her native Iran says she can’t wait to see her grandchildren.
Lee, a 72-year-old retiree who preferred not to give his last name, said he was happy to finally get the vaccine after spending weeks trying to get the valuable injection.
“We sign up everywhere, in the county and in the state,” he confesses.
However, his wife, who accompanied him on Friday, could not receive the vaccine and must return on Monday to try.
One of her grandchildren is graduating, “and we’d love to go to the event” in June, if it happens, Lee says. “We hope that the summer brings better results with the Covid and the vaccine. I hope that before they can vaccinate many people.”
Many others have found the registration system for vaccination frustrating.
Faye Elkins, 74, says he spent part of Thursday queuing at a high school and was told upon arrival that the injections there were intended exclusively for those over 75, not 65, as he thought.
“We had to turn around with several other people, some of whom had queued up to three hours in the cold,” he lamented.
Elkins and her husband Jim Barnett said they couldn’t get an appointment at the pharmacy despite their insistent efforts, but they still decided to cross their fingers to get someone to cancel their shift.