Vax Thrill by
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Prompted By Vaccination

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At his mid-afternoon press briefing on Wednesday, February 17, Governor Baker announced that anyone over the age of 65 would be eligible for vaccination the next day. The roll-out had gone badly so far, with only health care workers, first responders and those over the age of 75 being eligible to receive vaccinations and many of those had difficulty navigating the sign-up website. Most other states allowed many other groups, including all senior citizens and pressure was intense to extend the vaccine to this age group. The announcement caught everyone off-guard, but mostly the poorly designed web portal for making appointments.

Dan and I decided on a strategy. We would get on a bit before 8am, when new appointments open up, only look at mass vaccinations sites; those at Gillette Stadium or Fenway Park, and keep trying, hoping for success.

8am came and the system spectacularly crashed. The new appointments weren’t even loaded in for about two hours. We tried and tried to no avail. The software had been developed by some third party in some other state and was not prepared for the one million new people eligible who began logging in on February 18. It took us about 6 hours, but through persistence and strategy, we both got appointments for the following week. It felt like a miracle.

I showed up at Fenway Park on Tuesday, February 23 for my first Pfizer shot.

I confess, I was SO excited that I teared up a bit. The pleasant man who checked me in seemed to understand. We could see our way out of this darkness. I had no issues and breezed through, signed up for my second appointment on my iPhone during my 15 minute observation period after the shot. By Tuesday, March 30, I reached “full” immunity. Dan went to Gillette a few days after me, but got the Moderna vaccine, so his shots were four weeks apart. He reached full immunity on April 6.

I had posted my vaccination button to social media and heard from a good friend about going to lunch. But that was the day of my first shot (as a doctor’s wife, she was fully vaccinated already). I demurred…I wouldn’t go out for several more weeks, but did meet her for lunch the day after I reached immunity. We tried to go to our favorite lunch spot, only to discover it currently isn’t open for lunch. Like so many other restaurants, they still have limited hours. Instead we went to Legal Seafood. Neither of us relished the idea of eating inside, but it was a warm day and they had large windows open along one whole wall. We sat in a large booth, away from anyone else and all went well.

Mike & Tess, the engaged Cincinnati couple

Other than going to Martha’s Vineyard (Dan much sooner than I), we have no immediate plans. We have two nephews who postponed last year’s weddings to this year. We will travel to Cincinnati in late June and Kansas City in September.

Michael and Margaret, the KC engaged couple

We asked Vicki if we could visit her in April, but she declined, as she has now had one shot and has a friend coming to visit the first week of May, staying through her May 8 birthday.

David, in London, is a whole other kettle of fish. Museums are closed, he works (still from home) during the week, so there just wouldn’t be much for us to do when we couldn’t visit with the kids. And we still need negative COVID tests to come and go internationally, even fully vaccinated. The UK is still on the CDC forbidden list. We hope they might visit us and stay a while, since they can work from anywhere.

Life will open up a bit, maybe going to a restaurant and eating outside as the weather improves, and we can visit with vaccinated friends. We’ve had dinner with two sets of friends, once at our house, once at theirs. It was heaven. It almost felt normal. Yet, we still must continue to be cautious and wear masks. Cases seem to be under control in Massachusetts, but not in other parts of the country.

We aren’t out of the woods yet, but are cautiously optimistic. Our governor released new guidelines this week. Increased capacity everywhere, no more mask mandate outdoors, and the whole state will be fully open on August 1. I hope everything goes as planned. Right now people aren’t showing up for their second shots and vaccines are going begging. Keep your fingers crossed.


Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Characterizations: right on!, well written


  1. John Shutkin says:

    Excellent story, Betsy. Also, not surprisingly, your vaccine adventure closely mirrors my own, starting with website frustration and ending, happily, with getting shots at Fenway, the coolest site imaginable. Even our feature images of the button are the same — though they ran out of them when I was there for my first shot and I only got mine at ths second one.

    You also mirror my own cautious optimism and caution about the post-vaccine era. We, too, are still wearing masks and only gradually considering restaurants and travel. Let’s see where our state is on August 1st…..

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I got a second button for you John, just in case…glad you got your own! I will be on Martha’s Vineyard in downtown Edgartown on August 1. I’m sure the restaurants will be happy to return to normal. I’m not so sure about the residents. As it is, most restaurants can’t even stay open seven nights a week because they can’t get wait staff, one of the large grocery stores said they will close on Sundays all season. It will still be different. But at least, with vaccinations on board, we can eat at our friends’ homes. And go back to our art house movie theatre. That will be nice.

      • John Shutkin says:

        Thanks, Betsy. I’ll let you know if I lose my one button, but it currently is enjoying a position of prominence next to my desk. I am pretty sure that restaurants will bounce back, but I worry about movie theaters. I think so many people (myself included) have gotten so accustomed to the ease of streaming at home. It probably depends a great deal on what the studios decide to do in terms of releasing new movies.

        • Betsy Pfau says:

          I think some of the big movies will only get released to theaters. I heard someone being interviewed the other day say she didn’t watch the Oscars because she hadn’t seen any of the movies, so why bother? Many were on streaming services that people don’t get, or were very esoteric. The new James Bond movie comes out on October 8, twice delayed. I’m sure that will be on the big screen only. The new West Side Story opens on my birthday in December – a Spielberg production with a new book by Tony Kushner. A trailer was previewed on the Oscar telecast. Now it has my attention.

  2. Thanx Betsy for you Covid vax story, at least you had the caché of getting your shots at Fenway!

    But seriously, not being able to see family and friends all these months certainly has been the hardest part, I hope you’ll see your kids as soon as possible. Thankfully at last there’s light at the end of the tunnel – stay safe until then!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I agree, Dana. We haven’t seen our kids since a year ago last Christmas and that has been very difficult for us. One good aspect of this digital world is the ability to have these digital chats every other week across 8 time zones (though sometimes Vicki won’t join in). We can eyeball each other in real time and talk. That has been a life-saver. And we talk or FaceTime with Vicki at other times. She did tell me that this forced separation from the world has caused her mental harm, as she again struggles with depression. No pill in the world can help overcome what COVID has done to her. Mercifully, she gets her second shot today and has a friend coming to visit today, staying (in a hotel) for week, through her birthday, a week from today). I am thrilled for her. I think that is just what the doctor ordered.

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    So many things to look forward to! And starting to see the light! At Fenway no less 🙂 Yet somehow, it seems asymptotic–the closer you get, the further things are. While we are happy to have vaccines, restrictions are in some ways tighter than ever, so we hold on and continue to hope.

  4. Suzy says:

    I enjoyed reading about the details of getting your vaccine appointment. I also had to spend a lot of time online, looking at appointment sites that filled up before I could finish filling out the questionnaire. How fun that you got your shots at Fenway Park, and got those great buttons! I hope you get to see your kids soon. I share the frustration of having a child in Europe, with the greater problems of international travel.

    I had to look up asymptotic after reading Khati’s comment. A curve and a line that get closer and closer but never touch. Hope that isn’t the case with being able to regain our “normal” lives.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      My London kids are considering coming here for their shots (they don’t want AstraZeneca, and second shots are being delayed by three months). Anna’s mother is American, so she holds dual passports. Now if they can just find the time…we really hope they come! Wouldn’t that be a treat!

      I just read in the Globe that “break-throughs” (someone fully vaccinated still getting sick) are happening at a rate of 0.1% which the immunologist thought was great. Nothing is perfect and we all need to be aware of that. I think the advise is going to become increasingly confusing. We just have to remain vigilant.

  5. Marian says:

    I like your statement about tip-toeing into the future, Betsy. Your vaccine experience is somewhat similar to mine. My brother and I ended up having long conversations on the phone when trying to get appointments for my immunocompromised sister-in-law, and then me. I found one for her right near her home and then ended up getting my vaccinations through the county. My brother had to wait because he wasn’t yet 65 but just got his second shot this week. My little synagogue, whose members are all boomers, is planning its first in-person Sabbath service next month, outdoors. All is “quasi-normal.”

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    I totally agree with what you have written about caution, Betsy. Like you, we have been dipping our toes in the water, having vaccinated friends over, seeing our in-town kids and grandkids. But I’m still nervous about things going so well that we will be able to come to MA to see our kids and grandkids there. Will we feel OK about flying this summer? Or about a long drive with an overnight stay? Not sure yet.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      The vaccinated world is a perplexing place right now, Laurie, but I’m glad you got to see your WI granddaughter. I know how much you’ve missed her. Newton is a very safe (blue city in a blue state – we believe in science) and I have to hope it’s safe to travel because I plan to go to my nephew’s wedding in June, if that helps you with your decision at all. Of course I will wear a good mask the whole trip and NOT eat anything on the flight.

  7. Joe Lowry says:

    The battle to get the vaccine was difficult in the San Francisco area too. I managed to get it at the Santa Clara County fair grounds. However, since my girl friend lives in Alameda County, she had to go 50 miles to San Francisco to get the vaccine. She requested that I drive her to San Francisco (I do not like driving in SF), but since it was so important to me, I gladly did the drive. She seemed much happier after her second shot.

    Also, I have enjoyed Legal Seafoods in the past.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I understand Joe. My daughter lives in San Jose so we follow that area closely. For many of us, we were MUCH happier after getting that second shot. Glad you’ve enjoyed Legals in the past. Unfortunately, the pandemic wasn’t kind to them and the original family sold out to someone else. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the quality remains up to snuff. I’ve been there once for lunch and once for dinner now. The menu has changed a bit (my husband was miffed that he couldn’t get a baked potato), but other than that, it seemed fine.

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