On Saturday afternoon, the COVID-19 vaccine became available to people outside the medical community, and in just minutes it was all gone.

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People across the nation have shared their anger and frustration over not having access to the COVID-19 vaccine. In Florida, senior citizens are camping out overnight for their chance at getting a shot, while here in New York, precious vaccines are being thrown out because frontline healthcare workers either aren't taking advantage of getting it, or are unable to organize its distribution to coworkers properly.

In order to get these life-saving vaccines in the arms of Hudson Valley residents, eligibility has now been opened up to teachers, first responders, safety workers and seniors over 75. An online form allows people fitting those requirements to schedule an appointment for the vaccine at several distribution points around the Hudson Valley.

On Saturday afternoon, I happened to be looking at Twitter when an update came through from Dutchess County announcing that appointments were now available for residents eligible for the vaccine in round 1b. I quickly alerted my wife, who is a part of that eligibility group, and clicked through to the signup page. After answering a long list of questions, she was able to choose an appointment to get her first shot this week.

While celebrating the fact that she was on her way to immunity, we decided to check back and look at how quickly the appointments filled up. In the time it took for her to sign up, the Poughkeepsie location was already filled. Checking the other two vaccine distribution points, they were also out of appointments in less than 20 minutes after we first saw the update on Twitter.

Luckily for my wife, we were at the right place at the right time. But those who don't happen to be following Dutchess County on Twitter and weren't online Saturday afternoon were out of luck. It eerily reminded me of the frenzy over the new Sony Playstation 5. In October, I also happened to be on Twitter right when retailers surprised customers by releasing pre-sales if the highly anticipated video game console a day early (perhaps I am on Twitter a bit too much). While I was able to act quickly and pre-order a PS5 for Christmas, every other parent I know was left hopelessly refreshing their screens for months, with no luck in ever finding one.

Dutchess County exec Marc Molinaro says that, sadly, that's going to be the reality for vaccine distribution in the short term. On Monday morning he characterized the state's rollout of the vaccine as a "mess" that's been bogged down in too many layers. During an interview, Molinaro says he believes things will get better in the coming weeks, but for now, residents should anticipate more frustrating experiences.

Doctors' offices are currently not yet authorized to distribute the vaccine, so the only way to get on the list is to register at the county's website. On Monday morning all appointments were booked, but the County Executive says that as more vaccine is made available to the Hudson Valley and more distribution sites are opened, additional appointments will be offered.

But for now, the advice for those seeking a COVID-19 vaccine is sadly the same advice Best Buy workers are giving to customers looking for a PS5; "keep checking the website and cross your fingers."

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