Even if I hadn’t already seen it in the news, I would have known that there is a strong prospect for a coronavirus vaccine because it came up at work. Our company has a plan built around this benchmark, and it goes like this:
We will return to work when there is a widely available vaccine for COVID-19.
What’s going to happen after that? My guess is that they’re going to try to work the supply chain and get someone to come to our various campuses, just like they do with the flu shot. As employees, we will probably be able to get the vaccine faster from work than we would if we waited in line elsewhere.
I have another speculation, which is that many large companies will do the same. It’s likely this would include family and housemates, because it makes more sense to protect the entire household and thus avoid having to quarantine anyone on staff.
Right now, nobody is allowed on site at our work without prior authorization. You have to explain why you want to be there. A few months ago it was why you needed to be there. Now, most people are staying home regardless, so those who just find it easier to get things done at the office are commuting in.
There are guidelines about how many people can be in a room at the same time, and there’s a scheduling tool to make sure.
What might happen, at our company and probably at others, is that getting the vaccine would give someone more access than if they didn’t get it for some reason. At a certain percentage of staff, it wouldn’t matter if a few people could not or would not get their shots. In the beginning, though, while the logistics are still being worked out, the lucky few would be safer, and that is a privilege.
I’ve gamed this out, because COVID-19 scares the living hell out of me. I think if I get it a second time, I would probably die. I sometimes imagine the beautiful day when I roll up my sleeve for my injection, and tears come to my eyes. The vaccine means I’ll be able to fly home and spend time with my family. It means I’ll be able to travel the world again. It means I can quit feeling haunted by COVID. I’m going to have a party on that day. I’m going to go home and eat a slice of cake.
In the meantime, though, I think it will be a bit of a wait. It would be a bit of a wait even if the vaccine was already approved for mass distribution today.
There are still roughly 328 million Americans, and 39 million of us live here in California. (Did you ever realize that - that one out of every 8 or 9 Americans lives here in the Golden State??) My county alone has 10 million people. How long is it going to take to get 10 million vials of a coronavirus vaccine?
I can tell you one thing, it was very challenging for me to get a COVID-19 test. Both times, I had to make an appointment after arguing with my doctor. How is the packaging, shipping, and distribution of individual portions of the vaccine going to compare to individual test swabs?
There’s a ranking system that is going to have to come into play. The medical field revolves around the concept of triage, that those who are most in need are tended to first, and everyone else has to wait. That’s why my hubby and I had to sit in the ER overnight when he had a severe eye injury - because so many other people were so much worse off. We wait our turn, and while we wait, we focus on how glad we are that we’re not on the short list.
First is going to have to be first responders. It’s literally the only thing that makes sense.
Next would probably be anyone over a certain age, people with certain pre-existing conditions, and caregivers.
My hubby and I don’t fall into any of those categories. We’re just average adults. That’s why I think our best chance to call dibs would be if we can get the shot through work.
If the Pfizer vaccine turns out to be viable, there is the slight complication that it might take two doses like 3 weeks apart.
The reason all of this matters is that I think exciting news can cause people to get a little happy and sloppy, and that can sometimes lead to crushing disappointments. Like my own. My poor sad heart - I haven’t been with my family in 11 months and there may still be another year to go. As I talk about this, I’m working it out for myself, so that I can set my expectations reasonably.
Say, even if the vaccine was already available? And I got my first dose tomorrow? I would still have to wait three weeks to get the second dose. That obviously means that Thanksgiving is... wait for it... off the table.
I’m fine with that, and I wish everyone else was too. I wish we could all solemnly nod our heads and agree that we love our families too much to risk everything on one stupid, unnecessary meal. Just do it next year and make it bigger and better! Yeesh!
Instead we’re looking at the highest case counts ever, both worldwide and in the US alone. It’s getting much worse. We’re also finding that asymptomatic people can spread COVID-19 for longer than we might have guessed. This is a terrible time for false optimism.
What I’d like to see everyone doing at Thanksgiving is staying physically away from one another. We can call and wave to each other on video. We can say our gratitude about the chance of an effective vaccine, and we can also be grateful that so many of our family members are still alive.
Let’s keep our eyes on the prize, and let’s keep it that way until next year, shall we? Let’s try to have as many of us as possible live for that day when we roll up our sleeves for our vaccines and then go have some cake.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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