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I don’t like shots. When young and hospitalized with pneumonia, I was given a penicillin shot every two hours for a day and a half. At least that’s what I remember. Then there was the military. Stand there and suck it up. Wasn’t pleasant and far different from last week’s experience at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department’s COVID-19 clinic.

For the past two weeks, I have been mildly critical of the vaccination program from the federal government’s disorganization (what vaccine stockpile?) to the phone registration system (be the 700th caller and win!). And I was skeptical of the forthcoming rollout of the internet-based registration system. Been through many rollouts that didn’t work.

Well, good news. I registered on the new system and, although I have minor suggestions for betterment, it went well.

So, here’s my point. If you are over 16, go to www.vaccinate.wv.gov and register or call 1-833-734-0965 (phone open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Yes, pre-register, even though the vaccine cut off is 65 and up right now. So, register.

Once I did, my advanced age and decrepit health were identified and earned me a Thursday call for a Friday appointment.

The experience far exceeded my expectations.

I arrived early and parked free in the Quarrier Street garage. Because of appointments, it wasn’t crowded. Parking was quick and easy.

I expected long lines. There weren’t. I didn’t expect friendly, welcoming guides. There were.

As I entered, a gentleman some distance away raised his hand and motioned to me to come to him. He then passed me to the next station, where a person behind the desk had already made eye contact and motioned me to her. After quickly verifying my appointment, she gave me a colored slip and pointed the way to the next station, where someone was already motioning me. Everyone was appropriately masked and maintained distance.

I was asked to stand on a floor mark and wait for the next available clerk. Within seconds, a Kanawha County emergency medical person greeted me, and I stepped to her workstation. Within a few seconds, she checked my driver’s license, insurance cards and the prescription list I had been asked to bring. As I finished, another person appeared beside me and ask me to follow her.

She led me to a “holding” area that had probably 20 folks seated in maybe 40 chairs and made sure I was comfortable.

Soon, a county medic appeared in front, held up a vaccination card and began explaining it. I nicknamed him, “Sarge.” I learned that the card had the type of vaccine we were to be given, dates and other pertinent information.

And then, as he distributed cards, probably eight vaccinators appeared in front and began pairing with us. They introduced themselves in a friendly and professional manner.

My vaccinator was a nurse from CAMC. Her friendly demeanor comforted me while her military precision had me inoculated before I could tense up. Whew. That was easy — and no, the shot didn’t hurt. I’ve had some that did, so I know the difference.

By the time I rolled down my sleeve, Sarge was again in front, explaining that we were to stay in the area for 15 minutes, to assure there were no bad reactions. We didn’t socialize, but I did notice a group of touring dignitaries, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission.

Sarge reminded us that we should get the same vaccine next time and that the health department would call us for our next appointment. Then, out the door. Total time maybe half an hour. No lines.

Spectacularly efficient.

Thank you, to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority and County Commission, and all the county and state employees on loan from various departments. Also, thanks to the Governor’s Office, for the registration system, the West Virginia National Guard, for support, and all volunteers, including folks from CAMC, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy and many more.

Tom Crouser is a business consultant who lives in

Mink Shoals. Reach him at tom@crouser.com and follow @TomCrouser on Twitter.

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