Opinion: Getting the needle in Madera

When my turn came to get my first COVID-19 vaccination, I wondered where it would be administered. Because I’ve written several columns/news stories about the pandemic, one would assume that I’d know where to go to get immunized. I didn’t.


Naturally, I asked friends where the vaccine was obtainable, and most knew. I was told to phone or go online to the Madera County Department of Public Health (MCDPH). That made sense, and I thought that I remembered where the facility was located, although I’d never had occasion to go there.


Nearly 22 years ago, I participated in a program called Leadership 2000 which was organized by Debi Bray, President and CEO of the Madera Chamber of Commerce. The program was especially valuable to me because I was relatively new to Madera. I was teaching full-time at the facility that was then known as the Madera Center of the State Center Community College District, and I was at the end of my first year of writing this column. So, I didn’t have much time to explore my new home city and county.


I remember going with the group to Cosyns Farm, Madera City Hall, the Madera County Board of Supervisors (where then-supervisor Gail McIntyre assigned me the role of playing a Southern Baptist minister who was a Board member), an automated dairy, and a complex of buildings located at Avenue 14 and Road 28. Among the facilities were the County Jail, County Juvenile Hall, County Office of Instruction (as it was then known), and the Madera County Department of Public Health. So, I thought I knew where to go and how to get there. Once again, I didn’t.


During my short hiatus from Madera in 2019, the Health Department moved to its new buildings at 1604 Sunrise Avenue. I learned this when I went online and made my appointment for the first available date: 3:30 p.m., February 3. I state the specific time for a reason, as you’ll see.


I admit that I’m one of those people who, if it’s at all possible to get lost or to fail to follow instructions properly, will wind up in some strange location that may not even have a name. In fact, I’m nearly notorious for this quirk. For example, when I was 21, my brother and I went on a camping trip through the northwest and into Canada. On a certain day, I was tired in the morning when we were in British Columbia, so my brother drove while I caught a few extra Z’s. At some point, he woke me and said that it was my turn to drive.


I asked where we were, and he said, “The Trans-Canadian Highway. Just keep going straight for a couple of hours and then wake me.” About an hour later, I was about the enter the Burnaby City Dump. Honest. For about the next 25 years, every so often, I’d study a map of British Columbia to try to figure out where I made my mistake. It’s still a mystery to me, and my brother will never let me forget the incident.


I now make it a practice to take a trial run, usually a day or two before I have an appointment at some location where I’ve never been before. So, on Feb. 2, I gave the address to my GPS system. I live off W. Cleveland Ave., so the GPS led me down Gateway, just past Rotary Park. From there we went through a maze of streets until I found myself driving east on Sunrise. As we approached our destination according to the voice in the OnStar speaker, I noticed that we were at the corner of Tozer. The following day, I simply took Cleveland east until it turned south, crossed E. Yosemite, and became Tozer. So much for GPS.


At the MCDPH, I enter the second building east of Tozer, and there was just one person in line ahead of me. At the first station, I was asked to identify myself and then I was asked to move a few steps to my left, which was the second station. There I answered a few simple questions and was told to follow the marks on the floor to the third station where there were two medical personnel waiting for me. One of them administered the injection, which I honestly hardly even felt. I was asked to move to the fourth station, where my next appointment was made. Then I was asked to have a seat.


After a few minutes, a nurse came by to ask how I felt. Fine. I was reading a book that I’d brought with me. A few minutes later, another nurse came by, asked about my condition. Still fine. She told me that I could go home. I got in my car, took the shorter Tozer to Cleveland Ave. route, and was in my home by 4 p.m.


While we’ve seen long lines of cars or blocks full of people waiting their turns on TV, in Madera the entire process from the time I left my garage until I returned to my house was only 30 minutes.


I received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 3rd, following the same procedure. That time, there were two people in line ahead of me. The time from home to MCDPH and back to my house was 40 minutes. On neither occasion did I experience any inconvenience or negative effects, not even a sore arm.


I can’t remember exactly what I expected after all of the negative news and images from other places on TV, and I also can’t heap enough praise on the personnel at the Health Department. Everyone was courteous, helpful, and assuring. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I implore you to do so as soon as you are eligible. You can make your appointment on line or phone 675-7893, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.


Protect yourself and safeguard others.


• • •


Jim Glynn is Professor Emeritus of Sociology. He may be contacted at j_glynn@att.net.