VAX Quest: Of open borders and walls…

I feel like I’m trying to “find Waldo”.

Last week I posted (OK, make that “I whined”) that despite my earthly seniority, I was being sorted on the COVID-VAX priority list (in Maryland at least) lower than lawyers, prisoners and ‘the media”.

One loyal reader suggested that — on the basis of my habitual blogging  — that I should self-classify as “media” and get in line. Fearing that I’d get tagged “fake news”, I passed on that idea.


Open borders

A couple of other loyal readers alerted me that Florida — which was early-in for 65 & over doses — wasn’t enforcing a state residency requirement.

The legal logic: the vax is being provided by the Feds and paid for by Federal taxpayers in all states.  Those who pay for it should get it, right?

Florida’s practical logic: During the winter, Florida hosts a lot of  “snowbirds” — part-year residents with 2nd homes in Florida. They regularly contribute to the state’s economy (and tax base) so they deserve shots, right?

The rub: Many of the “snowbirds” come down from Canada — which (at this time) is behind DC and Puerto Rico for Dem-pushed list of statehood candidates. And, Miami is a hub for business visitors (some legit and some not so much) from Latin America. What to do with these foreign non-residents?

Florida’s answer: Try to keep the word from spreading, but — if the foreigners are over 65 — give them the vax.

The problem: Florida has begun attracting international “vaccine tourists” and its  supply of vaccine  is, shall we say, “tight”.

Bottom line: We cancelled our road trip to visit our friends in Florida


Strong borders, administrative walls

Then, a ray of hope: DC opened its eligibility list to include folks  over 65 — you know, those scientifically tagged as “vulnerable”.

I live in Maryland (part of the DC “metroplex”), so some loyal readers suggested that I simply cross the MD-DC border and get in line.

A nice idea, especially since I worked in DC for a couple of decades and my wife & I have been loyal patients of Georgetown’s hospital and doctors … and, since Maryland has ceded some of its vaccine allotment to DC to cover interstate cases.

But when I chased down the option, I ran into a formidable wall — not bricks and wire, but government bureaucratic intransigence.

Seems that the DC politicos are OK with national border crossings (with free healthcare provided, of course) but not state crossings for vaccine inoculations (except for out-of-staters who work in DC hospitals) … of course, country border crossings for diplomats (and their families) who are providing “essential services” are on the vax list.

But, the strict state border policy is being strictly enforced for folks like me.

Path closed.


Then good news: “The science” — housed at the CDC, etc., and frustrated by the slow pace of vaccinations — changed its mind (again) and advised states to starting shooting the vaccine into anybody over 65.

I’m golden, right?


Turns out that my hunt for vax was just starting…


A couple of days after the CDC announcement, Maryland Gov. Hogan announced that Maryland would “follow the (meandering) science” and accelerate access for 65 & overs.

So, I started “localizing” my search to find a couple of doses for my wife and me.


From the Feds to the states to the counties…

The MD state web site directed me to my county’s website.

After browsing a wealth of outdated information, and deep-diving an array of confusing click-paths, I finally landed  on my home county’s “Vaccine Pre-registration Form”.


This wasn’t to schedule an appointment anywhere.  It was simply a “let us know and we’ll let you know” offer of potential service.

Call me cynical, but I don’t think that I’ll put all of my eggs in that basket.


Another wall

I broadened my search to our neighboring Baltimore County.

After all, we’re all Marylanders, right?

I was greeted by the ever warm Star Wars-like  “We don’t serve your kind here” advisory:


So much for open borders and unity…


What’s your ID number?

Undeterred, I started direct-checking hospitals, thinking that they’re the main vaccine distributors these days.

First stop: MedStar Health — the hospital chain that includes GU Hospital (where our docs practice).

Informed that GU Hospital was the only one in the MedStar network that was inoculating …  I started filling out another online form … which requested our patient numbers.

I thought that was good news — I inferred that they were serving patients — and submitted my online request.

Then it dawned on me that I’ll probably have my request bounced.  Why? Because I’m not a DC resident.  Silly me.

So, I tried Johns Hopkins — the world renowned Maryland hospital — and was told, in explicit terms, to go away:

An eligible patient is anyone who has received care with a Johns Hopkins Medicine provider within the last two years.

I’m caught in a Catch-22 since I regularly get my healthcare in DC, but live in Maryland.

Hopkins won’t inoculate me because I’m not an established patient; Georgetown probably won’t be able to give me a shot because I’m not a DC resident.

Hippocrates is turning over in his grave!


Next up

Not to worry, I haven’t given up.

“Retail distribution” is starting to open up at Giant Food Stores and Walmart.

We get our flu shots at Giant, so I’m ok with that.

Gotta admit: The thought of medical treatment at Walmart creeps me out, but if that’s my only choice…

At this point, my best hope may be CVS. They’ve already declared that they’re going with the established election protocol: “No ID, no problem”.

All they need are some doses of the vax so they can start inoculating.


Bottom line: And the intelligentsia is wondering why the pace of vaccinations is slow ….

Stay tuned.

3 Responses to “VAX Quest: Of open borders and walls…”

  1. Dixie C Says:

    I called Anne Arundel County Heath Dept hotline to find vaccination appointment for a friend over 75 (found on and they took some info, said they would call back, hopefully within 2-3 days. They called back Sunday night and scheduled. Appointment was smooth process today. Next week, the county begins appointments for over 65. Register online, they DO call to register for appointment (at Live Casino or As Community College). Filling out their form by phone requires answering only a few demographic and health questions.medical questions.

  2. Dixie C Says:

    The catch is that you must answer whatever random numbers call you, as the called ID does not identify them.

  3. VAX Quest: Tomorrow, my cohort becomes officially legal. | The Homa Files Says:

    […] See VAX: Of open borders and walls… […]

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