It felt like we were in line to vote, except that we stood – or sat – six feet apart from one another, in a fast-moving line snaking through a CVS. Now I’m looking at the supply of cleaning products, now I’m reading the front of bar mitzvah cards. Then it was a stack of bottles of water, and then it was my turn.
Within minutes I had a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine #1 in me. See you in three weeks.
The pharmacy thoughtfully placed folding chairs along the route, and cleared out what I think was their beer display for a lounge, a place with additional chairs for those who chose the recommended 15 or so minutes to see if the experience dizzied them. I looked at the store’s impressive potato chip supply as I recovered.
Then I left, with an attitude of invincibility. Bulletproof. To paraphrase Mickey Spillane as he referred to something else entirely, I felt tired but it was a good kind of tired.
There was a time I would have agreed with anti-vaxxers and those of a similar libertarian stripe, whether informed or knee-jerk or anything else. Didn’t like the idea of the government putting things in my veins. Even objected to air bags in cars, mostly because at that time of their development, their rate of deployment was unenviable, unreliable.
Then I noted that in general, things actually work the way they are advertised. Flu shots reduce the amount of my involvement with influenza. Shingles shots, the same. That polio vaccine I received in my youth seems to have done its job.
Once in a while, the government gets it right, and now seems to be one of those times. This country knows a few things about manufacturing and a few things about package delivery, and once it was all straightened out – I will not name names but things began moving in earnest shortly after Inauguration Day -- well, it will not be long before there is a surplus of available vaccine. That experience at CVS was calm and organized, overseen by a single employee with a clipboard – “I feel like a bouncer in a bar,” she told me – and nothing like what I saw on television regarding final deliveries of vaccine.
People waiting in cars for hours, or crashing the line like Rolling Stones tickets just went on sale? Not here. Not on that Sunday.
One week there’s panic. The following week there’s the governor of the State of New York, explaining that there is great demand but little supply. Two weeks after that, it’s vaccine dispersement with an overlay of calm, of civility, of sharing the pot knowing there is enough, and more, for everyone.
It was not long ago – months ago – I was convinced there would not be a vaccine invitation with my name on it. It would be one stupid governmental screwup after another until they ran out or I died in an ICU. Even though the vaccine was distributed, that Sunday, in a system that, to paraphrase bluesman Robert Johnson, ran like it had Elgin movements, I still had to register for it, days before.
I know people who traveled from Niagara County to Potsdam, twice, for their doses. A friend bragged in early March that she has early April appointments, in Rochester. Me, I did something I rarely do – be awake at 6 a.m. – and then scrolled through the pharmacy list of available vaccines in select places, hit Refresh about four times, and there it was: sign up on Tuesday morning, show up at the store, two miles away, on Sunday afternoon.
The procedure also impressed upon me the importance of computer literacy for all. A working knowledge of Google, these days, is as crucial as owning a telephone – cellular, landline, one of those things with a crank on it, whatever. You’re not getting a vaccine unless you can maneuver the Internet, if only a little.
As I said, bulletproof. I have joined the company of those who will likely live through America’s worst pandemic since the influenza crisis of 1918-1919, which killed about 700,000 people in this country while the government mostly sat back and watched.
An element of growing older seems to be a letting-go of that which formerly provided sustenance. Religion has been abandoned by many, and not just the young; many of those never got involved in it anyway. I seem to have outgrown my preferences in music and food, and these days friendships form on common interests, not the sharing a homeroom of a neighborhood. Government is on my list, as well.
What’s gotten stronger? Interest in science and in innovation. Those folks keep at it until they get it right. They have my appreciation. I’ll see them in three weeks.
Contact Ed Adamczyk at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.