2021-01-25

Life In A Global Pandemic, Part 12

I received the Moderrna COVID-19 vaccine.

Instead of selling it on the open market, the world's largest capitalist economy has decided to use central planning to distribute the vaccines. I wish I could say I didn't see that coming, but the global response to this virus has been a disaster of central planning from the very beginning. It stands to reason that the "end" (?) of the pandemic should unfold the same way.

Tarrant County provided a website, distributed mainly by word-of-mouth as far as I can tell, through which residents could register to receive the vaccine. It is not first come, first served. Instead, patients were linked to an electronic form, in which we disclosed our age, race, sex, and so on, along with any "preexisting conditions" we might have. This is to ensure that the vaccine goes first to the sick and the weak, rather than to the young, strong, socially active people who are probably responsible for transmitting the virus so widely. That said, I do think the old and the at-risk ought to have first crack at the vaccine.

"Luckily" for me, I acquired type 1 diabetes more than a decade ago. (Tempus fugit!) The county's electronic form doesn't differentiate between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and of course it is only type 2 diabetes that is listed as the kind of "preexisting condition" that puts one at risk of death from COVID-19. Since I can't go on the open market and buy myself a shot, though, I didn't feel too badly about answering truthfully that I have "diabetes" and letting the health department sort out the details. Within a week, I had my appointment for receiving the vaccine scheduled.

The health department called me three times on Friday. I didn't recognize the number, so I let it go to voicemail. In any case, it was an automated call all three times. They also sent me three identical emails the text of which was verbatim to the phone calls I received. The emails contained a link to confirm my appointment, and so I did. The appointment was scheduled for the following day "between 9 AM and 11 AM."

I showed up at about 8:45 AM, and there was already a long lineup of cars waiting to park. Police split traffic up into four separate queues, which eventually merged back into two separate lines. Once we found a parking space, we lined up again inside the building - two separate lines this time. I waited in line for perhaps 40 minutes, during which time volunteers checked my paperwork no less than five times. Finally, I arrived at a registration table, where my paperwork was checked again, my driver's license and insurance information were taken down, and then I was directed into an all-new queue. This queue happened to split into two lines for about 20 yards, before merging back into one queue again. Central planning is wonderful, isn't it?

At last, I was allowed inside a conference room, where I sat at a table and someone administered the vaccine. I was then directed to a second person who gave me my "vaccine card," along with a memorized set of instructions that I will never be able to remember. The gist of it was that I needed my "vaccine card" to get my second vaccine dose, which I will be able to receive in four weeks' time. She also told me, despite CDC information to the contrary, that I cannot mix vaccines, meaning that since I received the Moderna vaccine, I should only get the Moderna vaccine for my second dose, otherwise it won't work. Finally, she gave me a sticky-note with a time written on it: 10:14 AM, the time when I would be allowed to leave the building. Apparently they make people wait in the conference room for 20 minutes to ensure that nobody has an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Then I went home.

My sister had received the Moderna vaccine a few weeks before I did. By her account, the vaccine causes muscle cramps, tiredness, feverishness, and so on. I expected to have a similar experience, so I quickly went for a nice, hard run when I got home. I figured that if I was going to be out of commission for a day or two, I should get a good workout in before I started feeling down.

None of those adverse reactions happened for me. The injection site became about as sore as it would be for a tetanus or DTAP vaccine. I did not experience tiredness, pain, fever, or anything else. I feel perfectly fine.

I would recommend the vaccine to others. Hopefully, most everyone will eventually receive an effective vaccine, and the spread of this disease can be minimized as much as possible. I understand that this is one of the first widely used mRNA vaccines ever made. I was curious about it for that reason. This is a new mechanism of action, one that has not previously received widespread federal approval. (According to a handout I received when I was given my vaccine, the Moderna vaccine is "not FDA-approved." They want everyone to know that they are getting an unapproved vaccine, presumably so that no one will ever think to blame the FDA if something goes wrong. Nothing says "accountability" quite like government.) I think now that the concept has essentially been proven, we can expect to see more mRNA vaccines in the future. This could mean a cure for the common cold, to say nothing about all the other, more serious, diseases we might be able to cure with new vaccine technology. 

If there is anything positive about any of this, that's it. It's exciting to be a part of medical history. I'll let you know if I grow a demonic hand or something, but at this point I am expecting it to be smooth-sailing from here.

1 comment:

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