A buddy of mine confessed the other day that he has COVID-19 vaccination envy. Several of his friends have had their vaccinations, but he’s still waiting for his turn to come around.
For starters, he isn’t quite old enough to be in a priority category. He also isn’t an essential worker. Nor is he in the health care field.
He probably likes the fact that he isn’t as old as some of us whom he considers friends. It’s good, in many ways, being younger. But he really wants his Pfizer or Moderna — or maybe the new Johnson & Johnson concoction. He isn’t picky.
His wife has had her first shot. Several of his paddling and skiing and camping pals have had their shots. And their wives have had their shots. But his turn hasn’t come around yet. Meanwhile, he waits for the magic email to come pinging into his inbox.
I suspect he isn’t alone in this vaccine-envy predicament. As the vaccine rollout ramps up, all of us play the waiting game until — almost magically — one day we get the word that our turn has come. We eagerly show up on time, roll up a sleeve and welcome the needle. Our world has begun to change.
And with the second installment of the vaccine, a great weight is lifted from our shoulders. We breathe a little more easily. We move through the world with less fear and anxiety. We begin to see some light at the end of this viral tunnel.
If any of us knew — well ahead of time — when our vaccine slot was likely to come up, that would be one thing. We would have the date circled and highlighted on the calendar. But typically, it seems, we have no idea where we stand in the vaccination lottery. We can look online and see roughly what category we fall into on the inoculation rollout. But the precise timetable remains a mystery.
Meanwhile, those still waiting for their shots can’t fully appreciate all the smiling selfies of Facebook friends displaying their vaccination certificates.
Some aspects of our lives don’t change even after we feel the poke of protection. Other evil virus variants lurk, seeking openings. We still need to wear our masks. We still need to give each other space and avoid congregating indoors.
But one thing, theoretically, changes once we have received our shots. We aren’t likely to die from COVID-19. And if we do contract the virus, we aren’t likely to be sick enough to require hospitalization.
Frankly, the idea of not dying anytime soon — at least from COVID-19 — is a most pleasant thought. It means the odds of seeing your grandkids more often are much better. It means you might consider a trip you had been putting off. It means you might go grocery shopping sometime other than very early in the morning.
Don’t misunderstand. My vaccinationless friend isn’t holed up in some "poor-me" funk. He’s out there, living his life as normally as he can. He skied the virtual Birkebeiner. He hikes or snowshoes up frozen North Shore streams. He goes to visit his granddaughter and her family now and then. He’s doing all of that according to the virus protocols. He’s being careful. He wants to remain healthy and be fair to those around him.
But he really wants his shot.
Sam Cook is a freelance writer for the News Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find his Facebook page at facebook.com/sam.cook.5249.