Are you suffering Vaccine Envy?
By Jean Godden
If you are sick and tired of reading and hearing about vaccinations, stop reading this column. Right now. Like many of you, I have grown weary of hearing nothing but stories from friends and acquaintances who -- maybe not really entitled to receive a shot -- have somehow been able to game the system.
The news is all around us. Pick up any newspaper and you'll read many column inches about how super-efficient clinics have opened to give shots. You'll see stories about employers who are offering bonuses to employees who get vaccinated. You can count pictures of people getting a shot: minor celebrities, sports stars, the state's governor, the city's mayor and even notorious folks like O. J. Simpson.
Turn to your Facebook pages and there are more candid shots: People, often young and beautiful, who are going to be protected from the dread disease. There are accounts of happy encounters: people vaccinated because they just happened to be standing near a clinic at closing time.
Who could miss that feel-good story, the one about midnight vaccinations at Seattle hospitals? As the news story goes: A vaccine shipment was about to expire and those lucky enough to be called at midnight -- even if not eligible -- received shots.
It is true that it's downright inspiring to read the statistics about the tens of thousands of people being vaccinated in our county and state. Our local medical providers are doing an awesome job, getting those shots in arms. One can be proud of those hard workers.
Every zoom session in which I've participated, the first topic of conversation starts out this way: "Just got my first shot" or "I have an appointment for my second shot in a few days." Many tell about a convoluted journey, no two alike.
"Well I never expected to get a shot," says one. "But I showed up at the vaccination spot and they told me to direct traffic. When the last shots were given, they had a couple left over. And then the nurse had me roll up my sleeve."
Another friend reported, saying, "I thought I had an appointment for 6:30 p.m., but, when I got there, they said that It was 6:30 a.m. on another day. I said, 'Well I'm here, couldn't I get it now?' They said, 'No, no, no.' But I stood there for a bit and got swept into the line."
Well here's my confession: I now have a galloping case of vaccine envy. The Doonesbury comic strip has a word for it: VaxEnvy. Those who have gotten shots are the new elite. Once they've gotten that second shot, they may still be wearing masks, but underneath they probably have what we used to call an (expletive deleted) grin.
But, alas, lost among the happy accounts, there is another side to the success story. There are multitudes, thousands of us who somehow are missing out. Even if we're fully eligible under the guidelines, we have been unable to find a place where and when we can join the happily vaccinated.
Like so many, I log on faithfully each day -- sometimes in pre-dawn hours. I check a wide geographic swath across counties. But it's all the same: "Due to low inventory, we are unable to schedule appointments at this time." "If there are no dates listed, all appointments have been filled."
I know I'm not alone. I took the liberty of calling the pharmacist at my local pharmacy. He was sympathetic. He said that he, too, had heard rumors the store might get some supplies. But he had no idea when. And -- surprise -- he hadn't gotten a shot either.
I've been laughing (a little hollowly) at my former colleague Dave Horsey's vaccine cartoons. I especially liked the one captioned: "Roll the dice and you might get to roll up your sleeve." His drawing showed a covid board game, a serpentine path with squares like: "No computer: lose three turns" or "You live in a poor community, lose six turns." Then there's the square that reads: "Special Connections" that slides the player (Mr. Monopoly) to the ultimate square: "Get vaccinated."
I don't know if Horsey has yet found a shot. But to judge by his latest cartoons, I'd say he is just as obsessed as I am. Pity him if he's developed a case of VaxEnvy.