Serious travel dilemma…What shall we do?…

Narrow and The Imposter, who imitates Tiny, but Tiny overpowers him, hence the name.

As we approached the seven-day countdown of leaving Marloth Park, we’ve encountered a serious problem. After spending hours online, we cannot find a location in Minnesota where we can get the Covid-19 vaccine, including any-type let alone the Johnson and Johnson single dose, which we’d prefer, that we’ve heard is more effective against the South African variants.

Peter, Paul, and Mary visit us often.

Since Minnesota recently opened up the vaccine for those over 16 years old, including seniors, we didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get the vaccine when we arrived in Minnesota. It looks a little easier in Nevada but that doesn’t help us for the time we’d hoped to spend with family in Minnesota.

Plus, we noticed that Covid tests in the US are US $385, ZAR 5664, per person since we don’t have US insurance. We only have international insurance, which won’t pay in the US. We’d hoped to get tested every few days while in Minnesota visiting family. We’d also hoped to get the vaccine and be tested every few days to be safe when visiting family. But at these prices, it makes no sense to get tested three times a week. That’s outrageous!

This leaf-like insect stopped by for another visit.

After checking dozens of sites with varying information, we found that the best time to book appointments in Minnesota is between midnight and 4:00 am, their time. This morning, we bolted out of bed in plenty of time to begin the search during their suggested time frame based on the time difference. Nothing was available anywhere in Minnesota

Some sites stated that appointments aren’t booking out any further than April 7th, but even in that case, no appointments were available for any upcoming dates. It’s not looking good.

Encountering giraffes on our way to Jabula for dinner.

Our concerns about infecting our family and/or being quarantined for 10 days after we arrive, make this a very difficult scenario. We’d only planned to stay for 15 days. We are in a tough situation. Many of Tom’s family members, whom we’d see, the majority of which are in their 80s and 90s years. We cannot risk infecting them or even other family members.

Of course, our risks of getting the virus are exponentially higher after traveling for 37 hours, spending over 12 hours waiting in airports, and the remainder of the time spent in flight than one would spend during a one-leg flight. When we arrived in South Africa on January 13th, we’d spent 59 hours in transit.

Zebras prefer to drink from the pool as opposed to the birdbath.

We’d hoped to visit Tom’s sister, Sister Beth, who is a nun in a nursing home, in Milwaukee during our stay. Now, that is entirely off the table. Also, Tom’s eldest brother Jerome is in a nursing facility and the same requirements for visitors are in place. We’d be unable to visit either of these siblings, let alone the others who, as mentioned, are senior citizens as well.

Sure, we should have done more research before booking a return to the US. But, who knew we wouldn’t be able to get a Covid-19 vaccine and also have no choice but to pay these outrageous sums for frequent tests. A test here in South Africa is US $50, ZAR 735.

Tiny, searching along the perimeter of the garden for a possible stray pellet.

Of course, we are in a quandary, unsure, at this point of our next step. We will report back tomorrow, which, by then, definitively, we will have made a more comprehensive decision, safe for all of our family members and ourselves.

These are times of Covid-19. Everything we knew is different than in our old lives. We must proceed with caution and concern for others and for ourselves. As for the visa issue, we are less concerned in that area. The South Africa immigration department has extended all recent visas to June 30, 2021. But, that wouldn’t be an issue beneficial to us since our intent has been to get the vaccine in Minnesota and see family.

Please check back tomorrow!

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2020:

There was always a chicken on the beach in Kauai. For more year ago photos, please click here.

Comments and responses Serious travel dilemma…What shall we do?…

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Lisa, thanks for writing. We’ve decided not to go to US now. We’ll explain our reasons in today’s post which I’ll be doing soon. Hope you all are well.

      Love,
      Jess & Tom

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Beth, we spent two days on this site with no openings. Thanks for writing!

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Michelle, thank you for this but we aren’t coming to the US after all. Why will be described in today’s post.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  1. Michelle Burger Reply

    Also at the same link above there is a tab for the what they call the Vaccine Connector: https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/connector/connector.jsp
    Here in the Chicagoland area it is best to sign up for accounts through Walgreens, CVS, local hospital portals and even Cook County Health department. Some of the mass sites being run and coordinated by the National Guard have extra vaccines at the end of the day and people have been lining up outside to receive one. And actually one of the best bets here in Illinois is to drive outside the Chicagoland area for a couple hours and go to the more rural areas of the state where I have heard you can walk up and get a vaccine. That might be something for you to try too, particularly those counties which tend to vote more Republican 🙂

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Michelle, thank you for your comments. Once we upload today’s (Friday’s) post, you’ll be able to see what we’ve decided to you.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  2. Christine Leclair Reply

    Hello, let me share some reassuring information. We are Canadian citizen travelling in the USA. Even though there are asking for insurance information for testing, if you don’t have them, it is free; paid by the government. Same for vaccine. In theory, they could ask for a proof of rent, Airbnb or address of a relative where you are staying, for us, none was requested at the appointment. As for booking an appointment we have find that starting at 7h00 in the morning is the best. This is when new appointment (based on stock received) are posted and cancelled appointment are put back on the schedule. Also, it proved easier to get appointment in the big state center than in pharmacy. You have to sit in front of your computer and click and reclick until you find a spot availability. The inventory of appointment is changing by the second. Don’t be discouraged, I managed to get same day appointements by using this technique.

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Christine, thank you but we’ve decided not to go to the US now. With a waiting time of two weeks for the
      the vaccine to be effective and our choice to quarantine after traveling from South Africa, we’ve decided now is not a good time.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  3. Katie Reply

    Hi! I have never met you guys, but occasionally check out your blog after it was featured in the local Chanhassen paper at the beginning of the pandemic. Hope you don’t mind me chiming in to provide some information to hopefully make your trip run closer to your original plan. Just wanted to say that all COVID tests are free in MN, even if you don’t have insurance. Also, I highly recommend the “Minneapolis Vaccine Hunters” Facebook group as a great resource to get connected with a vaccine. There are even administrators of that group that help find appointments for people, and I’m sure they would prioritize someone in your situation. Finally, I’m listening to the Minnesota Department of Health conference call right now and they are loosening restrictions on nursing home visitors because most of those residents are vaccinated (although I’m not aware of the specific rules that are in place). Hope you guys have a safe trip! Thanks for posting about your adventures!

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Katie, thank you for your thoughtful comments. We’ve decided not to go to US right now. If we do get the vaccine, we still have to wait two weeks before feeling confident and we’d only be in Minnesota for 15 days. That just doesn’t work for us. Also, no medical is free to US in the US. We don’t have US health insurance for the providers to bill. This proved not to be a safe time for us to visit family and for us to spend hours at the Johannesburg airport awaiting our next flight. Thank you for writing.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Katie, thanks for the information and for writing to us. We’ve decided not to travel to the US right now due to the risk of infecting our family members and our own exposure from international travel taking a day and a half. As a matter of fact, we tried the site you suggested with no luck. But since we’d have to quarantine and only be in Minneapolis for 15 days, it didn’t make sense right now.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

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