It's been a long pandemic, and I was happy to be at the Essex County Vaccination Site at the Livingston Mall this week receiving my first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

All the volunteers, Essex County Police and medical staff on site were very welcoming and friendly.

I arrived early for my 11:20 a.m. appointment to find a line that looked endless. The space is organized with aisles that snake back and forth, complete with a line before the line, which turned a corner and returned to the starting point to enter the “official path.” Once on the official path the line moved along rather well — it had seemed even longer because of the six feet in between each of us. 

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At an intake table, a volunteer checked your screening number to be sure you were the right person and had come in on the correct day. The volunteer also asked a list of questions regarding exposure to the disease and concerning the vaccine and antibody treatment. 

County Executive Joe DiVincenzo happened to be touring the site at the time. He welcomed me and said, “We want this to be a comfortable and efficient process, and do our best to get all our residents vaccinated and keep everyone safe.”

After another well-marked route to get to the official registration desk, a different volunteer again checked my identity against their records for the screening number and then issued a CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card, which she filled in with my name, date of birth, brand and lot number of the vaccine injected today as well as today’s date, location and date of the appointment for the second shot.

A different volunteer directed me to my booth for the actual injection. A very pleasant nurse explained all she would be doing, agreed to let me take a selfie of her giving me the shot, and injected the vaccine in my arm. It was totally painless.

Prior to leaving she gave me a round badge with the exit time noted — each vaccine recipient must wait a full 15 minutes before leaving to be certain there is no immediate reaction.

Again, helpful volunteers direct you to the correct chair to occupy and explain how to register with the CDC V-safe app on your smartphone so that you can keep them apprised of how well you are doing over a six-week period; they will also send a reminder text to get the second shot.

My only side effect has been slight soreness at the injection site. Following the proper protocols, I will be fully vaccinated four weeks from yesterday.

It takes a lot of coordination at all levels, including many gracious volunteers, and I was both pleased and relieved to be only one more shot away from immunity to the COVID-19 virus.

I kept looking at the large number of people at the site yesterday, and although I was pleased to be getting the shot, I also wondered how we can get more vaccine supply to be able to get more people inoculated sooner rather than later. Where's the real hold-up: Is it production of the vaccine, distribution to the states and sites, or is it just the need for a little better organization at all levels? Whatever the case, we need it accomplished so that people and businesses can return to a more normal way of life. 


Fred Smith is the Publisher of TAPinto South Orange/Maplewood