Wednesday, March 10, 2021

My Job, Not My Illnesses, Got Me A COVID-19 Vaccine

For those of us who live with illness, the pandemic has brought into relief for many what some of us recognize is a daily slog of inequality and missed opportunities. There have been many lessons that I’ve learned over the past year, and I’ll have another post about that. But the major issue right now, is getting vaccinated. And I’ve been vaccinated, not because of my illnesses, but because of my job.

And I think that says a lot about what’s wrong with this country. We prioritize people’s careers over everything, including their health. I have chronically ill friends who are too ill to work. Or don’t work in healthcare. And they are still waiting to get vaccinated, with no real date in sight for when that might happen. So, they, and even I, who has been vaccinated, continue standing vigil over our own lives while seemingly everyone else attempts to get “back to normal” at our expense.

I thought everyone that wanted a vaccine would be able to get one. And that’s clearly not the case. My local hospital system has had to cancel vaccine clinics for weeks because they simply don’t have the supply.

My husband, who can’t work remote at all and has been public facing throughout the pandemic, has asthma and high blood pressure. He is on a waiting list, but because he’s 37, we literally have no idea when his turn will happen. And no one has accounted for people that live with high-risk individuals. Honestly, he should have been vaccinated before me because that would have provided mutually beneficial protection.

And if it weren’t for my job, I’d be waiting just like him. And there’d be no end in sight. And there’s still this archaic notion that only older people can be high risk. That only old people get sick. Like our state and federal governments think that allowing those 65 and older covers a large swath of the population. Thankfully, both of our moms have finally been able to get vaccinations.

But this is not the Oprah show. “You get a shot, and you get a shot, and you get a shot.” “A round of shots for everyone!” I get the job thing in terms of vaccinating frontline people first. I also get the idea of vaccinating the elderly. But the fact is, once again as has happened so many times during this pandemic, chronically ill people are left behind. We know exactly where we stand in the food chain. And in a world where it’s eat or be eaten, chronically ill people are the main dish. We are put on the altar of sacrifice with barely a second thought.

The slipshod, piecemeal approach doesn’t work. By letting the states decide, the guidelines just don’t make sense. For example, according to the New York Times, “Type 1 Diabetes will qualify you for a Covid vaccine in Ohio, but not in Indiana.”[1]

So instead of letting states decide, how about the government offer some guidelines? Didn’t we learn anything from allowing states to shut down and open up indiscriminately? Oh wait…Texas, I’m looking at you here…We’re still making the same mistakes that helped everything get so messed up to begin with.

I’m hearte1ned to see that in some places, my chronically ill friends (the majority of whom are under the age of 65) are starting to get vaccinated. But this is the vaccine Hunger Games, and for chronically ill people, the odds aren’t in our favor (unless you have a job that qualifies you).


  1. Just today Indiana updated their list of eligible for the vaccination. Two parts caught my attention. the first drives me up a tree.

    People with severe type 1 diabetes, who have been hospitalized in the past year.

    What the heck does being hospitalized in the last year have to do with being eligible. Grrr.

    Now the second one is less frustrating.

    Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, combined primary immunodeficiency disorder, HIV, daily use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, receiving tumor necrosis factor-alpha blocker or rituximab.

    Now I have written the state officials at least 5 times about Rituxan. I have repeatedly asked if they could open dosing for people with Rituxin. After 4 weeks they finally have.

    Int he mean time I was vaccinated three weeks ago when my age came open. Gosh America is an interesting place.

    By the way I had my back surgery last March 5. I was released from the hospital on March 9 near midnight.

    Here is the complete new list in Indiana:

    1. Rick, it sure is an interesting place. And tonight the President says all adults should be eligible by May 1. Did he read my blog post, too? None of it makes sense. I’ve tweeted at my governor multiple times. While I think she has done an okay job, you can be darn sure that if it was her chronically ill adult child, she be making darn sure she’s vaccinated. Happy to hear you were able to get jabbed, one way or the other.

  2. The entire US vaccine schedule is insane. In Los Angeles vaccine appointments were just opened for a segment of 16-64 patients with "select serious illnesses". At the bottom of the qualifying list "People who, as a result of a developmental or other significant high-risk disability, meet one or more of the following criteria:
    A COVID-19 infection is likely to result in severe life-threatening illness or death; OR
    Acquiring COVID-19 will limit the individual’s ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival; OR
    Providing adequate and timely COVID care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual’s disability."

    However, some vaccine distribution sites have dropped that last part virtually eliminating appointments for those of us with autoimmune diseases and taking one or more medications that are known to make us more likely to catch a bad case of Covid. We are unseen and first to be pushed aside as unimportant. It's so frustrating.

    I was able to make an appointment finally last night for my first vaccine next week because one of the major vaccine health providers did include that last part in their online approval questions. My husband will be waiting for who knows how long for his vaccine when vaccinating him would have been most helpful in our home. He does all the shopping etc and most likely to be exposed. It's terrifying to know just how much we don't matter.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more! I am a medical biller working in an outpatient mental health facility in Michigan. I also have multiple autoimmune diseases. And it was because of my job that I was able to get the vaccine as soon as I did. It’s incredibly sad seeing so many in the “high risk” group having to wait for their turn. I feel that we, along with our care takers, should have been able to get it sooner. My husband who is a USPS mail carrier hasn’t even qualified yet. That’s also very frustrating...knowing that he has worked every day through this pandemic and could get sick and also pass it onto me. These have definitely been challenging times. And hopefully any day now he’ll get the call for his turn to get the vaccine!

    1. Our situations sound so similar, it’s crazy! I’ll be thinking of you, fellow Michigander, and your husband. Hope he gets his turn soon!