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By Tom Blake
Before this year, I had been to Disneyland twice. The first time was 56 years ago; the second time, 15 years ago.
My partner Greta and I decided to go to Disneyland on Feb. 4. You might be thinking, “Tom and Greta must not have realized that Disneyland was closed due to the pandemic.”
Oh, we knew it was closed, which is why we went. Disneyland is the primary COVID-19 vaccination site in Orange County.
We both had been on the Othena website for five weeks trying to schedule vaccination appointments. On Feb. 2, we were each notified by email that it was time to book our appointments.
We were able to both get the same day, time and location. It was Disneyland, for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. We were told to bring a photo ID and a printed copy of our appointment confirmations.
People who go without appointments will be turned away.
Our appointment was for 9:30 on Thursday, the 4th; we arrived at the main entrance to the enormous parking lot on Katella Avenue in Anaheim and were parked by 8:30 a.m. The people directing traffic were very helpful and friendly. Reminders to wear masks were everywhere.
In our eagerness to get in line, I did not write down the row where we parked. I just eyeballed our location and thought, “No sweat.”
We were directed to get into the 9:30 a.m. line. Crashing an earlier line than one’s scheduled appointment isn’t allowed. Hence, arriving early, won’t get one vaccinated earlier.
There was one woman ahead of us. It was cold and slightly windy. I was wearing a winter jacket. Greta had only a shawl over her blouse. It was cold for her; I hugged her and opened my winter coat to wrap around her. I saw many men in T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops with no socks. They had to be uncomfortably cold.
We watched as approximately 100 people in the 8:45 a.m. line advanced to the vaccination tents. And then the same for the 9:00 and 9:15 lines. As each line cleared, people in the remaining lines cheered.
Those receiving their first dose were directed to one check-in tent; people receiving their second dose were directed to another tent. The sun had come out, so now we were a bit warm. When people arrive in the early morning, they’d be wise to dress as if they’re going skiing by layering their clothes.
We passed through three check-in stations, showing our picture ID and appointment documents each time. A fourth station was where we received our shots and a vaccination record card that also listed a Feb. 25 appointment for our second dose.
Before receiving the shot, everybody is questioned about the medications they’re taking. If any meds might interfere with the vaccine, those people will be interviewed by a doctor for approval.
Greta and I felt the shot hurt less than a flu shot. After receiving it, we were required to sit for 15 minutes under a tent to ensure we had no adverse reactions.
While there, we discovered that Greta’s ID was missing. Couldn’t find it anywhere. We mentioned that to a staff member and before we knew it, Mike Lyster, the chief communications officer from the Anaheim City Manager’s office, who was helping out that day, was summoned and helped us retrace our steps. He was awesome.
After a frantic search, a triple-check of Greta’s purse revealed that her driver’s license had slipped behind another card. We embarrassingly revealed that to Mike.
He smiled and said, “You’d be amazed how often that happens.”
We made our way back to the car. Of course, it was hard to find, because I hadn’t written down where we parked. I kept making excuses like, “My car usually has my stand-up paddleboard on top, so it’s easy to see.” I had removed it before driving that morning.
Our first-dose experience was positive. The people working there were incredible. We thanked them often.
Other than sore arms the following day, neither of us had any side effects.
Although we didn’t see Mickey or Minnie Mouse, it had been pleasant to be there. Hopefully, by summertime, those two Disney characters will be walking the streets of Disneyland, greeting customers.
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org