By Violet Krochmalny and Christine Kelly-Begazo.
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.
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
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.
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.
For the most current and informed local information on COVID-19 issues and vaccination registrations:
Indian River County Coronovirus website:
Indian River County vaccination registration phone helpline:
(772) 226-4000 (Monday-Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm)
The University of Florida’s Health Center COVID-19 resources:
UF Health COVID-19 Vaccinations website:
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:
CDC Spanish Resources (Recursos de comunicaion):