OPINION: Remaining patient while waiting for the vaccine

OPINION: Remaining patient while waiting for the vaccine

Have you noticed how people want to let you know about it when they’ve received the vaccine? I’m not always sure how to respond. “That’s good,” “Way to go!” and “Congratulations” have come to mind, and been employed, but I’m not sure how satisfying that is. On Facebook, where everything tends to be either amusing or irritating, I’m tempted to say: “Who cares?” But that’s not nice.

What you could do is ask when the follow-up vaccine is scheduled, but that is a way of extending the conversation, which might not be what you or the person who brought it up in the first place want to do.

What I think is that everybody gets a break. It’s been almost a full year now of this coronavirus pandemic, a year of staying away from people and hiding your face, and a little good news is something to get excited about. It’s like some strange horror story, though: with the vaccinations come news of new virus strains. It’s like we can’t be given something encouraging without something that adds a little doubt. That’s called life, I guess.

As far as I can figure out, and it ain’t easy, I’m somewhere along the tail end of Phase 1B, which means I should get the vaccination … I have no idea. I think I’m in line to be notified when my turn is up, but this is all very mysterious. All I can do is what I’ve been doing for the last 11 months, which is stay at home for the most part and hang with the people I love and trust — which is not a bad way of going about things when you think about it. I would like to travel, to visit family in England, for example, but at the moment the idea of wandering too far afield gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Will I feel endowed with super powers once I get vaccinated? Who knows? What I suspect is that a year’s worth of relative isolation can have an enduring influence, and even when this is all long behind us, if it ever is long behind us, I’m still going to look at those not wearing masks with a wary eye. We all have a kind of Stockholm syndrome, which is when you sympathize with your captors. In this case we’re all captive of a disease, whether we actually have it or not.

There are some horribly difficult choices right now. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown has been harshly criticized for deciding to vaccinate educators (daycare through K-12) ahead of the state’s residents who are 65 and older. Worries about the welfare of children, and the idea that they need to get back into the classroom, are overweighing what is widely considered the most at-risk population.

“If we were to vaccinate every Oregon senior first, the unfortunate and harsh reality is that many of our educators would not get vaccinated this school year — and Oregon kids would continue to suffer,” she said, as quoted in The Oregonian.

The question is, how do you make a decision like that? And the answer is, there is no adequate answer.

Back home in Connecticut, there’s concern about people skipping ahead in line. As the Connecticut Mirror reported, 300 teachers and school staff in the Pomperaug Health District were vaccinated recently when it’s still supposed to be those 75 and older. This seems less a deliberate attempt to defy the will of authority than it seems, I don’t know, a mess-up.

As described forthwith: “Some clinics were inadvertently (scheduled) for groups who were not yet prioritized for vaccination. With the understanding of the logistical challenges of taking down already scheduled clinics, coupled with our directive that no vaccines go to waste, we have allowed clinics and appointments scheduled for today and tomorrow to proceed,” said Maura Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health.

At this point you want to say, let’s just get needles in people’s arms as quickly as we can for as many as we can and knock off the nonsense, but don’t listen to me.

Another bit of good news is that the federal government, under a new administration, appears determined to take the pandemic head on, which includes letting the experts say what’s on their minds. An honest and open assessment of what’s going on is what’s been needed for a long time. It’s going to help as the need to be patient continues.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or jkurz@record-journal.com

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