December 20, 2020

Roller Coaster


Thursday I signed up through the hospital I am associated with to get on the wait list for the vaccine. I am in a high risk category since I see patients, but not the highest since I don’t care for COVID-19 patients, so I figured I would have to wait. Friday evening, I was texted to schedule an appointment. I was ecstatic! Followed quickly by disappointment when I tried to book a time and was too slow, with the slot I chose taken and all other slots filled by the time I returned to choose a time. Wow, my emotional roller coaster spiked my anxiety that vaccines would run out, since the shipments were being delayed. Almost despondent after the rush of giddiness I had a few seconds before.

So I did what any anxious doctor with insomnia would do. I checked at 4 AM and, lo and behold, an extra day had been added! I signed up immediately. I can’t tell you the relief I feel, which will be even more when I receive it early Tuesday, 12/29. Most every provider I know celebrates when they get it. I know I will. Look at XKCD’s graph- this is Moderna’s results, similar to Pfizer BioNTech’s data. The vaccine is effective, mild side effects, rare allergic reactions that are treatable.

I am moved by the emotions I felt when I realized I will get the vaccine soon. Relief, joy, awe, and I will admit, a little wariness. But I am so ready for the shot and the sore arm I will likely have, because I know my health is much more at risk from COVID-19 than a rare side effect of a vaccine. Not to mention the relief that I may be protected enough to not infect anyone else, although the jury is still out on that data. I will gladly continue to wear a mask.

I wish everyone could get the vaccine right now, but it is going to take time. Just scheduling the shots at the hospital is a daunting task. Starting at 5:00 AM and going until the evening, with a few hours break midday, 5 people are scheduled every 5 minutes. New technology using bots is organizing the appointments and has already contacted me to confirm what day my appointment is so they can schedule me 3 weeks later for my booster. Amazing really.

This will be, logistically, one of the biggest roll outs of vaccines, and actually almost anything ever, in the US. Immunizing more than 200,000,000 adults with two doses will take a while, mistakes and confusion will happen, patience will be needed, along with the continued fight against misinformation and conspiracy theories, a battle since the beginning of vaccines, despite their effectiveness.

Continue the vigilance and persistence with the actions protecting you so far. The country is truly in a world of grief- almost everyone knows someone affected now, the infection is that pervasive, the total deaths hard to imagine. The new forecasts are now as high as 560,000 deaths by April 1, 2021. Please be careful.

You may read the news out of the UK about a mutation that might make the virus more infectious. I have some links below that explain the situation. One of them is a Twitter thread by Trevor Bedford, a Seattle area researcher at Fred Hutchinson and who I have tremendous respect for. The bottom line is that he thinks the vaccines we have now will work but in the future we may need boosters that address future mutations. We still don’t know enough but this is a good reminder to continue social distancing, masking, and hand washing to protect yourself. We have gotten this far, don’t let your guard down.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, stay sensible, hope is coming.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.