To get her coronavirus vaccination final weekend, Frances H. Goldman, 90, went to a unprecedented size: six miles. On foot.
It was too snowy to drive at 8 a.m. on Sunday when Ms. Goldman took out her mountain climbing poles, dusted off her snow boots and began out from her dwelling within the Seattle neighborhood of View Ridge. She made her approach to the Burke-Gilman Path on the sting of the town, the place she wended her manner alongside a set of outdated railroad tracks, heading south. Then she traversed the residential streets of Laurelhurst to achieve the Seattle Youngsters’s Hospital.
It was a quiet stroll, Ms. Goldman mentioned. Folks have been scarce. She caught glimpses of Lake Washington by falling snow. It will have been tougher, she mentioned, had she not gotten a nasty hip changed final yr.
On the hospital, about three miles and an hour from dwelling, she bought the jab. Then she bundled up once more and walked again the best way she had come.
It was a unprecedented effort — however that was not the extent of it. Ms. Goldman, who grew to become eligible for a vaccine final month, had already tried the whole lot she may consider to safe an appointment. She had made repeated telephone calls and fruitless visits to the web sites of native pharmacies, hospitals and authorities well being departments. She enlisted a daughter in New York and a good friend in Arizona to assist her discover an appointment.
Lastly, on Friday, a go to to the Seattle Youngsters’s Hospital web site yielded outcomes.
“Lo and behold, an entire checklist of occasions popped up,” she mentioned in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “I couldn’t imagine my eyes. I went and bought my glasses to ensure I used to be seeing it proper.”
Then got here the snow, which might in the end drop greater than 10 inches in one of Seattle’s snowiest weekends on record. Wary of driving on hilly, unplowed roads, Ms. Goldman decided to go to the hospital on foot. She took a test walk part of the way on Saturday to get a sense of how long the trip might take.
And on Sunday, she trekked all the way to the hospital to get her vaccine. The Seattle Times reported on her walk on Monday.
The appointment went smoothly, she said. And it carried a special significance for Ms. Goldman because she could recall the joy of national celebrations in 1955, when another important vaccine was developed.
“I can remember back to when the polio vaccine was rolled out,” Ms. Goldman said. She was a young mother at the time, and polio was sickening tens of thousands of children, sometimes leading to paralysis or death, and she remembers taking her children to get the vaccine at a school in Cincinnati, where she lived.
That vaccine rollout “was done in a very organized manner, and it made a huge difference in the way people could live in the summer — not only that people didn’t get sick, but they also didn’t have to live with the threat of getting sick.”
This time around, Ms. Goldman has been disappointed by the vaccine distribution. “There’s no excuse for it being done the way it was,” she said. “It was unorganized. Completely unorganized.”
Seattle is just one of many places across the United States where residents have struggled to get access to the vaccine.
“There’s just not enough vaccine across the state and the nation,” said Sharon Bogan, a spokeswoman for the public health department of Seattle and King County. “Even under the best of circumstances, we knew this would take time. We know that eligible residents like Ms. Goldman are having trouble accessing appointments given limited supply of the vaccine.”
And while similar stories have played out across the country, vaccine distribution is slowly improving in the United States. President Biden said this week that every American who wanted a Covid-19 vaccination should be able to get one by the end of July, but he has also cautioned that the logistics of distribution will continue to pose difficulties.
In King County, health officials grappling with limited supplies have been working to deliver the vaccine equitably, according to Ms. Bogan. “We are focusing our efforts on those eligible high-risk persons who are not connected to a doctor or the health system and setting up sites to reach older adults in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19,” she said.
Ms. Goldman is scheduled to receive her second dose of the vaccine next month. She plans to drive.
And when this is all over, she hopes to host people in her home again, resume her work as a volunteer at a nearby arboretum and hold her new great-grandchild, whom she has so far refrained from touching at all.
For now, she is fielding a lot of phone calls — her long walk has been covered by numerous local and national news outlets. The attention, she said, has not bothered her so far.
“I hope that it will inspire people to get their shots,” she said. “I think it’s important for the whole country.”
Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.