PLAYING WHACK-A-MOLE WITH COVID-19 VACCINATIONS

I still go to grocery stores. I wear my mask and maintain social distance. Usually I go early in the morning when the stores are less crowded and store shelves are being re-stocked. Recently, although I was more than six feet away, I heard two employees talking as they worked. One had received his first Covid-19 shot a week earlier and he was describing the process and the side effects he felt. He said he felt great within twenty-four hours. I couldn’t help congratulating him on getting the vaccine. He looked a little surprised, then pleased when he realized I was sincere.

Hopefully, you are one of those who have at least the first shot. For the rest of us, getting a vaccine appointment has been a lot like playing Whack-A-Mole.

In self-defense, I have decided not to play. I have registered with at least four places, including my health care provider. All have promised to alert me when and where I can get a vaccination. The problem for all of the vaccination clinics is the shortage of the doses and the lack of information on how many doses they will receive until the very last minute. There is nothing I can do to change these facts, but I can avoid getting caught up in any perceived unfairness in the process.

This is certainly not the first pandemic we have faced. Many of us know a little about the 1918 flu pandemic, but even earlier than that, from 1775-1782, we faced a smallpox pandemic in the Western hemisphere. Smallpox infected Europe early on. Columbus carried the disease to the new world and the disease decimated native populations.

According to an article on George Washington and smallpox in Wikipedia, the very first smallpox vaccinations took place in Europe when Lady Mary Wortley Montagu had her children vaccinated against smallpox in 1670.

When it struck the Western hemisphere in 1775 there were two ways to deal with the disease – quarantine or inoculation. The inoculations were not as refined as our versions today and many were justifiably fearful of the inoculations. (Sound familiar?)

For history nerds, Phyllis Levin, in her biography of Abigail Adams, relates the story of how Abigail and John inoculated their family against the disease. It was not for the faint of heart!

Recently, NPR interviewed Ken Burns. When asked about four challenges the U.S. has faced over the years, he mentioned Covid-19. Commenting of the possibility of successfully vaccinating a sufficient number of people in the U.S. to establish “herd immunity”, he pointed out that in 1947, New York vaccinating six million people against smallpox in one month. His point – it can be done.

If you are unsure about getting the Covid-19 vaccination, I hope you will carefully consider what the alternative could be. Covid -19 is a deadly disease that has killed thousands of people.

Peace

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