By Douglas W. Motley
When San Bernardino County received its first 67,710 doses of Pfizer-Biontech’s COVID-19 vaccination medication on January 13, two Alpine Mountaineer employees – Senior Writer Douglas Motley and Staff Reporter Rhea-Frances Tetley – wasted no time in signing up for the online waiting list as soon as it was announced.
Motley was able to confirm an appointment for Monday, Jan. 18 at the San Bernardino Health Center, while his wife, Rhea-Frances Tetley, secured one at the same location on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Arriving at the health center at 606 E. Mill St. in San Bernardino around 5:30 p.m. for his 6 p.m. appointment, Motley, donning his required facemask, checked in at the end of the approximately 100-person-strong line with a health care professional, who proceeded to check his temperature, which was satisfactory. Only those with a forehead temperature of less than 100.4 degrees can receive a shot; anything higher is considered a fever, which could indicate infection. A staff member then checked her list to make sure each person was authorized to receive their shot.
Next was the waiting line, which steadily lengthened as more people arrived. The vaccination manager informed those waiting that there was a shortage of nurses to administer shots and that the line would be moving faster as more nurses arrived in about 20 minutes. As it turned out, the line finally began moving a half-hour later. The line, which stretched around the building from the parking area to the front doorway, finally began moving, as a maximum of three to four persons entered the doorway, and continued moving every 10 to 15 minutes.
Most in line remained quiet, while others engaged in idle chatter such as, Where are you from? and what do you do for a living? Some had come from as far away as Ontario and Hesperia.
Tetley encouraged those from our vicinity to share their thoughts and recommended visiting the mountain communities to check out the antique stores and other businesses that are still open. Several persons – anticipating a long wait – brought walkers and wheel chairs, which is a good idea, particularly if you are elderly or frail.
Arriving at the front entrance about two-and-a-half-hours later, Motley advanced to a registration table, where he picked up a sanitized clipboard containing a questionnaire asking whether he had received any kind of vaccination in the last 60 days, if he had recently been ill, if he was allergic to any kinds of medicines and whether he was pregnant (he was none of those things) and so on. Motley waited in a sanitized chair until his number was called about 10 minutes later.
Not apprehensive about the shot, Motley was escorted a short distance to a room where a nurse promptly provided the shot, which took about two seconds to administer. No, it didn’t hurt at all; it was akin to a quick pinch, though his left shoulder was slightly sore for about 24 hours. Each participant was led back to the waiting room, which had a large TV screen showing kids’ cartoons (earlier in the day, the room was used for family health care visits). A 15-minute wait was required to ensure that the participant was not experiencing any negative side effects from the vaccine.
All of those who were vaccinated were given a COVID-19 vaccination record card certifying their vaccination status. The card will reportedly be required to board any airliner or other form of public transportation in the future. Prior to 21 days after the first shot, an email will be sent to each participant informing them of the location and time of their second and final shot.
At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, it was Tetley’s turn for her appointment; the procedure was mostly the same as the previous day, except that this time the line began on the edge of the parking lot along the side of the building and wound around the building’s rear (again, because the building had been used for daytime health care visits). A young man who had accompanied his elderly grandmother – who was having extreme difficulty maneuvering her walker for over an hour – requested that she be moved to the front of the line, which she was. No one around her objected.
Appointments can be made at the county’s registration website. Vaccine supplies from the state are limited, so appointments are scarce. County residents 65 and over can make appointments
through sbcovid19.com/vaccine. Seniors can also sign up for email and text notifications to receive alerts about vaccination opportunities and other vaccination news through the “65+ Vaccine Notification Sign Up” link at sbcovid19.com/vaccine/65plus.
Crest Forest Senior Citizens’ past president and current treasurer Penny Shubnell told The Alpine Mountaineer last Friday that she is in contact with county officials, trying to get a mobile unit to come to Leisure Shores Senior Center in Crestline to administer vaccinations to residents aged 65 and over.
“We have plenty of parking available and participants can go the seniors’ grab-and-go luncheon at the nearby San Moritz Lodge ahead of time.” Those interested in signing up can contact the senior center at (909) 338-5036 or log onto [email protected].