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Shot Chasers: Confessions of a Vaccine 'Cheater' 

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Nearly two weeks later, as I was sitting down and working on this story, I got a message from a friend: There was a mass vaccination event happening in Leopold, Missouri, that had not seen many people signing up for appointments, I was told. Due to the dearth of willing recipients, the event was to be opened to the public at large regardless of eligibility. According to KFVS reporter Alayna Chapie, the site was stocked with 1,950 shots, but Leopold, whose population is a scant 65 people, apparently didn't need that many.

I was skeptical. This scenario sounded eerily familiar, and my St. Clair County experience had already seared the life lesson to never get my hopes up onto my very being. But though my brain did protest, I soon found my body behind the wheel of my car, headed two and a half hours south with my fingers crossed. At the very least I could see some cows, I figured.

Spotty cell service and a lack of confirmation from the workers manning the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services COVID-19 hotline prevented me from reaching out to friends and family as I had done before. This mass vax event was more than double the distance I'd driven for my last failed attempt, and even if I could get cell service long enough to relay a message, I wouldn't want to send anyone on what was, more likely than not, another utterly doomed wild goose chase.

Several refrains of "Moo, cows, eat up some hay" (to the tune of the Ludacris song) later I arrived at a Knights of Columbus hall in the tiny town. Its parking lot was overflowing with cars, and a National Guardsman again directed me to the line.

The Knights of Columbus hall in Leopold. - GOOGLE STREET VIEW
  • GOOGLE STREET VIEW
  • The Knights of Columbus hall in Leopold.

When I was asked for my ID, I handed it over, fully prepared to be turned away at this point just as I had before.

"You're from St. Louis?" the guardsman who took it said.

"County, yeah," I replied.

"Hey, I'm from Florissant," he said as he handed my license back to me, along with a vaccine card.

It seemed as though the rumors that brought me here were true, but I wanted to be sure, so I asked the guardsman why, exactly, the event had been opened to the public.

"We only had about 200 people sign up," he told me. "So they went ahead and blasted it out to the media that anyone could come."

Minutes later, a woman in scrubs came to my door with a syringe in hand, filled with that magical life-restoring fluid, and stuck me right in the arm, to my absolute shock and infinite gratitude.

The following day — the time of this writing — I could find zero reports of elected or appointed Missouri officials accusing me of cheating.

Read the second story in our "Shot Chasers" package.

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