I got a shot today. My state tells me I am of an age where I qualify for the Covid vaccine. My husband I--both recovered Covid patients--had hoped to go together for shots. We signed onto various pre-register websites, but it became increasingly challenging (that us, impossible) for us to find and make reservations for shots at the same time and place--no less for even one of us to get a shot. Yesterday, I received an "invitation" from one of the lists to make a vaccine reservation for the next day. My husband, on the same list, did not get an invite. Go figure. Since the vaccine site was only 2 miles from our home, I decided to accept the invite and continue working on an invite for him, somewhere, somehow.
Some friends of ours have managed the "together" feat (see this post ) even though it's meant driving an hour or two each way. The appointments came courtesy of a technological lift from their grown children. What I saw happening with a handful of friends turns out to be a nationwide phenomenon. Adult children, who are more nimble than their parents with their phones, laptops and iPads, are finding places and times for mom and dad to get immunized.
How universal is this phenomenon? One New York resident reported to the Washington Post, "My group texts have really shifted from swapping horror stories about managing kids in virtual learning to getting vaccination appointments for our parents."
I consider myself moderately adept on the Internet--I use my desk and laptop computers for writing, editing, researching and communicating. I use my smartphone and iPad to zoom into courses and meetings; I can even set up a short meeting. But when I read about the manipulation of multiple devices that the younger generation executes in their search for parental vaccine shots, I realize I am way below novice grade.
Here's what one daughter did to secure shots for her parents: She learned a supermarket in her parents' county was going to schedule 1,500 vaccinations and would open its website for appointments at 6 in the morning. At 5:55 she had the website open on her laptop and "fired up a second page, this one in incognito mode. Then she pulled up two more browsers on her phone. 'I'm using my thumb on my phone and flipping between pages, and clicking through on the computer.' "
She lost me at "incognito mode."
Another recent report took note of how a lack of access to computers and smartphones is shutting out many seniors who are eligible for shots. The main way to book an appointment is by the Internet. There is a phone number to call but good luck getting through. That makes older parent totally dependent on their adult children to help them out.
There has long been a technological gap between generations-- oil lamps to electric lights; radio to television. (For a fun look at adjustments to new technologies, see Doonesbury on bringing Joanie, Zonk and others into a zoom room.) It's just that in the pandemic world, the stakes are too high not acknowledge our Internet illiteracy. If we have to tap into our kids or grandkids to bridge that gap, we are lucky we have them and they are there for us.