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Cars in line at vaccination site

My Covid-19 Vaccination Journey

By Violet Krochmalny and Christine Kelly-Begazo.

Sun over text Florida Health Indian River County

Sunny logo for Indian River County’s Health Department

Update: On April 28th, the Florida Department of Health and Indian River County Emergency Services announced the closing of the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Indian River Fairgrounds. The last day of vaccinations will be Friday, April 30th, 2021. The registering for 1st COVID-19 vaccination appointments is now closed as the Local Health Department will start walk-in vaccination services on Wednesday, May 5th. COVID-19 vaccinations will also still be available at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, Treasure Coast Community Health, Whole Family Health and various local pharmacies. For those who have received their 1st dose at the Fairgrounds, 2nd doses will be administered at the Health Department. For more information go to the website: COVID-19 Resources for Indian River County at https://www.ircgov.com/coronavirus.htm  or call (772) 794-7425.

My COVID-19 Vaccination Journey: Recently I was extremely fortunate to secure a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. It was in the early weeks of Indian River County Health Department’s first come – first served online registration system for those residents that fit the criteria of either being a frontline health care worker or over 65 years of age. In my case, I had signed up for the County’s text alerts which notified me whenever there was an impending registration session. For the next two weeks each time I received an alert I would jump on the computer at exactly the indicated start time, clicking and typing away only to be informed within minutes that all appointments had been filled. On the third week I was stunned when I could fill out the registration information, pick an available date and time slot before all the spots were filled once again.

cars approaching vaccination site

Efficient and well-marked route through Indian River County Fairgrounds vaccination site, photo by Violet Krochmalny

It turns out that at least in Indian River County Florida, the most challenging part of my vaccination journey was done. From then on, the process was relatively stress free and efficient. So here I was on the first appointment day on January 15th pulling into the vaccination site set up at the Indian River County Fairgrounds ready to go with the following:

  • Clipboard and pen for form filling facilitation
  • Copy of my appointment confirmation
  • Drivers license (that or a State approved ID is mandatory)
  • Mask and wipes (mask is mandatory)
  • Reading material (for that 15 minute wait afterwards)
  • Dashboard THANKYOU! sign
Woman getting vaccination shot in arm

Selfie of getting my first vaccination dose on January 15th, 2021, photo by Violet Krochmalny

Entering the Fairgrounds I was met by a cadre of over 35 medical staff, Firefighters, EMTs and volunteers who were there to guide me through various checkpoints for screening, form filling, form checking, possible side effects explaining and generally being very helpful. In less than 20 minutes I was administered an almost painless shot and directed to the monitored waiting area to make sure I was not one of the very few who needed further assistance. It was quick, but I did not feel as if I was being rushed through without proper attention.

Two weeks later I was notified of my 2nd dose appointment for the following week. Returning to the Fairgrounds, I noticed the new signage and the checkpoints were now a tighter more efficient configuration but still gave plenty of room for traffic to be spread out. This time it barely took 10 minutes from entry to receiving the dose! Parking in the expanded waiting area I waited for the proscribed time and was soon on my merry way. My side effects were minor for both doses: a sore arm for 2-3 days (I’ve done worse pulling weeds) and feeling a bit woozy-flu-like. One surprising effect hit me almost immediately: a profound sense of relief and optimism – although I am not ready to throw away my mask collection. I do understand that the vaccination will help me fight off any infection using my own boosted immunity system, but it will not prevent me from catching or spreading COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccination site sign

Indian River County’s Fairgrounds COVID-19 vaccination site, photo by Violet Krochmalny

Any unprecedented undertaking as massive as the national COVID-19 vaccine distribution is bound to be subject to glitches and bottlenecks. Millions of doses are produced, packaged, kept safe, tracked and distributed to the different states and eventually to vaccination sites for administration into the arms of America. Since our county rolled out their Health Department’s vaccinations at the Fairgrounds, the online registration system has been streamlined with a waiting list and a helpline with live humans to assist with issues and questions. Other sites are administering vaccinations as well such as Publix Pharmacies, Treasure Coast Community Health outdoor clinics, Cleveland Clinic Hospitals with more to come as supplies increase.

I believe we will get through this as systems get more efficient and bottlenecks are dealt with. The more people are willing to practice safety measures and common courtesy, the quicker and easier we can approach a near-normal existence. If you have questions, ask those who have done the research and performed the work so that you can find answers using reputable sources.

Woman showing off her vaccination band aide

Armed and not so dangerous anymore, we CAN do it! Photo by Julia Krochmalny

For the most current and informed local information on COVID-19 issues and vaccination information:

Indian River County Coronovirus website:
https://www.ircgov.com/coronavirus.htm
Indian River County vaccination information:
Select the Florida Department of Health link on the above webpage
or call (772) 794-7425

The University of Florida’s Health Center COVID-19 resources:
UF Health COVID-19 Vaccinations website:
https://coronavirus.ufhealth.org/vaccinations/
Fact Sheets:
COVID-19-Vaccine-Common-questions-flyer-English
COVID-19-Vaccine-Common-questions-flyer-Spanish
Busting-COVID-19-vaccination-myths-flyer-English
Busting-COVID-19-vaccination-myths-flyer-Spanish

University of Florida’s Virtual Town Hall for Agriculture: Communication about the COVID Vaccine (recordings)
February 9, 2021 – English https://ufl.zoom.us/rec/play/AG Town Hall – English 
February 17, 2021 – Spanish https://ufl.zoom.us/rec/play/Spanish  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC COVID-19 website:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
CDC Spanish Resources (Recursos de comunicaion):
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/index-sp.html