My husband is 70, I am 68. We are retired college professors and are in good health. We feel very lucky compared to so many. But we are also tired, lonely, frustrated and miss our family and friends.

Before the vaccine roll out began, there was much discussion on who should go first. We had our opinions. Teachers, grocery workers, anyone labeled 'essential'. (Society labeled them heroes when really they were victims.)

But as the rollout stumbled, bumbled its way out of the gate, we just became frustrated. 

Local messaging was contradictory, inconsistent and constantly changing. Rumors percolated among friends.

Someone said that 40% of nursing home residents and staff were refusing vaccines. Meanwhile, people we knew who were over 75 hadn't gotten a shot, and people we knew under 75 were getting the shot. I heard of doses being handed out at the end of the day, before they expired.

Our initial inclination to just wait our turn morphed into palpable anxiety over the chaos of the process. It all seemed random, rudderless.

How does one reconcile the blatant unfairness with the personal yearning to be safe? For this to be over.

Does anyone creating policy understand human nature? Understand the need to factor in the human desires and fears that have been heightened over a year of lockdown, economic despair and massive death? Not to mention the election and its aftermath.

About a month ago we got an email from a friend, giving us a link to sign up, and we did. There was no mention of age or profession. We wanted to believe we were eligible and the link (even with our birthdates) accepted us and gave us a date and time. 

Then came public backlash from the Department of Health. The link had been widely shared. We were told it was only for healthcare professionals, and that we were the problem, not the confusing system. The appointments were cancelled. Afterwards, the website indicated that there were many unfilled slots, yet the sign up was closed.

The health department knows that people under 75 are registering for appointments. Why design a system that assumes we will behave as ideal citizens? That assumes we won't, or shouldn't, share any rumor or link with friends? That our hearing won't be 'selective,' or that what we read isn't influenced by wishful thinking.

Yesterday, I read a Washington Post article about the recently deceased Dennis Mileti, an expert on how humans behave in disasters. His advice: We need to roll out the vaccines according to how humans actually are wired, not how we wish they were. To listen to people, to understand their fears, before you tell them what to do. Then make all public directives as specific, consistent and clear as possible.

So, yes, I will try and get my vaccine. I won't lie about my age, but if I can get an appointment, I plan to go. Someone needs to fill those slots and if the state can't create a more equitable, rational approach, my approach will be to use the system they created.

Olivia B. McCullough is a photographer and sculptor based in Providence, R.I.