As I explained in a previous post, My Job, Not My Illnesses, Got Me A COVID-19 Vaccine. And my getting the vaccine only solved half my problem. The other half of the problem is that my husband, who is unable to work remotely, and works in a very public-facing occupation, had yet to be vaccinated as of the end of March.
My husband has asthma and high blood pressure. While he’s 37, he’s definitely at higher risk of getting serious illness if he were to contract COVID-19. Not to mention, he lives with someone who is immune-compromised (even though that’s not something that anyone seems to be considering).
He was on no less than five different waiting lists for the vaccine including grocery stores with pharmacies, free-standing pharmacies, the county health department, and multiple hospital systems.
And guess what? Thanks to a local Vaccine Hunters Facebook Group and some chronically ill tenacity, his wife (me) got him an appointment at a CVS 30 minutes away from where we live.
(To date, my husband has only come up on one of the waitlists he was on.)
But the experience confirmed for me yet again that the system is 100% broken. Our local, state, and federal officials have told us that “anyone who wants a vaccine can get a vaccine,” but this simply isn’t the truth. It couldn’t be further from the truth, actually.
Maybe by 2022, everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one. Trust me, I’m grateful that vaccines are available and that I was able to get one. I’m grateful that Vaccine Hunter groups exist that use the virtual hive mind to share information. But at the end of the day, don’t our elected officials have some responsibility not only to keep us safe, but to follow through on the promises they make? (And no, I didn’t sleep through 2020, so I’m aware that these questions are basically rhetorical)
As I hear from many of my chronically ill friends around the country and in Canada, who are no closer to getting a vaccine than they were when vaccines weren’t available or have to battle to get one, I feel their frustration. I feel the frustration that those of us who are under the age requirements that were priority, but have significant health conditions, have been totally left behind. Those of us with chronic illnesses and disabilities are not only not a priority, but we are an afterthought.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, chronically ill and disabled people have been left behind. And even those who don’t think of themselves in those terms but who are high-risk for COVID-19, like my husband, are simply an afterthought. Even more of an afterthought is that he lives with someone who is immune-compromised.
The longer the pandemic drags on, the angrier I become at the level of risk our elected officials have been allowed to pile on us, with little care or concern for the consequences.
If you haven’t been able to get a vaccine, I would strongly recommended looking on Facebook to see if there is a vaccine hunters group in your area. I would also suggest that as things open up – (today in Michigan everyone 16 years and up is eligible) – to the general public that it might be easier to secure a vaccine, even though it shouldn’t have been like this. Everyone that was eligible based on age and conditions should have been able to get vaccinated before it opened up to everyone.
I’m looking forward to the day when my husband is fully vaccinated and I’m also looking forward to the day when we can truly say that “anyone who wants a vaccine can get a vaccine”.
But I’m no public health expert, right? I’m just a patient.