I am completely grateful and relieved to have received my first COVID vaccine shot today. I’m not normally one to rush to a vaccine; I rarely get the flu shot, I haven’t received the shingles vaccine, etc. But this one is different, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to get my shot.
As a three time cancer survivor, the latest in 2020, I worried a great deal about “what if” I got COVID-19. My body has had a lot of wear and tear over the years from treatment and surgeries. What would my outcome be? The thought terrified me.
But I wasn’t necessarily positive I qualified, so I reached out to my oncologist at University of Pennsylvania and she absolutely encouraged me to get the vaccine as soon as I could. Breast cancer IS an underlying condition.
I initially signed up with the Geisinger Health System. It took me 4 days to get set up on their system and to get an appointment. I did this by sitting in front of my computer for hours on end, refreshing the system until an appointment popped up. Then the trick was to be fast enough to confirm it before someone else did. It felt like some sort of weird competition, knowing that there were others who were equally qualified vying for the coveted remaining appointments. With persistence, I managed to nab an appointment for February 10th.
In the interim, I had also put my name on a waiting list with a new community health center only 2 miles away from my home. They called me Thursday to set me up with an appointment today. (I have, obviously, canceled my other appointment.)
Our local high school was the setting for the vaccination clinic, and they were planning to do 1000 shots, although there were 4000+ on the waiting list. I was pleased to see that there is so much interest locally in obtaining the vaccine. I see on the news that there are people who are skeptical and some places are struggling to get people to show up. In some ways I get that, but these are extraordinary times, requiring extraordinary actions. I believe we all need to get vaccinated. It’s our only way out of this pandemic and back to “normal” (whatever that may look like).
What surprised me the past few weeks was the anger / shaming that was sent in my direction when I posted that I had a vaccine appointment. Yes, I understand the frustration, and we could argue for days about who is most qualified (have you ever taken a medical ethics class?) to receive the vaccine.
The system is broken at the moment, with many smart and qualified people now trying to remedy the situation. We should be directing our anger at that broken system, not at people who qualify and rightfully receive the vaccine. Shaming others is never the answer. We need to push our representatives (Call or email them; I do.) to fix what is broken. To help the elderly with other options for scheduling and distribution. To get more vaccine sent out. To provide process, structure, personnel, logistics… But we should definitely stop shaming people.
I realize I am fortunate to have received a vaccine. I am grateful. I wish all of you much success in securing appointments and vaccines. They are the light at the end of our pandemic tunnel.
IMDb: Hot Shots! (1991)