Readers share thoughts on vaccine - Albuquerque Journal

Readers share thoughts on vaccine

He felt so good about getting his first COVID-19 vaccine that he shared that joy by passing out dollar bills to others at the shot clinic held at the University of New Mexico Pit.

“Thoroughly enjoyed the smiles I got in return,” reader John wrote. “I’ve never seen a better run mass operation and a happier bunch of people.”

Reader Bill, though, could not completely share that joy. He’s received the first of his two vaccines, but his partner is still waiting for hers.

“A wife or husband gets called for a vaccine shot but then their partner is not called,” he wrote. “This creates more than guilt, it really creates agony.”

He wrote a poem about that. A sampling:

“Torpor sets in,

while you wait for your covid vaccine shot.

And wait and wait and wait

and go to the State health department page

and get told to WAIT!”

Dozens of similar responses to my column last Wednesday, in which I wrote about receiving my first vaccine, offered a look at this divergence of opinion between the agony and the ecstasy, the haves and the haven’t yets.

Many of you decried the randomness of the vaccine rollout, while others praised the smoothness of the process. Many felt helpless and unheard, while others felt hopeful and unified.

“I’m so proud of how our state is doing,” wrote an ebullient Jennifer, who received her first shot at a clinic at Expo New Mexico. “It was the most organized event ever and the staff was wonderful, kind and helpful. I have a month-old granddaughter that I want to see grow up.”

But John’s experience held at a big box store clinic caused big headaches. The line for the vaccine, he said, stretched around the store and into the parking lot that frigid February afternoon. Some prescient folks brought lawn chairs. It took him an hour and 45 minutes – standing – to make it inside.

“The joy of getting vaccinated was lost in the unanticipated long line and cold weather,” he wrote.

I heard from Jackie, a senior citizen who just moved to Albuquerque from Texas with her husband, but before they left they received their first vaccine, the Moderna brand, and were having difficulty finding a local clinic that could provide them with their second Moderna dose in time.

“Looks like we’re off to Texas again,” she said.

Several said they also had made the trek to Texas, hearing that clinics in Amarillo and Lubbock offered shots to anybody who showed up no matter where they came from.

“The good part is that they are welcoming essentially anyone who wants a vaccine,” Linda wrote. “For me it was worth the drive.”

Several people were unhappy that they had yet to receive an alert despite registering in December.

“It doesn’t seem fair that even if you registered within the first few days you still have to wait months when you are in a group that is being called,” Vicki opined. “And I know people who are not in one of the top groups who are getting called.”

Yet Alfredo, who lives in Roswell, said he waited to register so that “older people” could have first dibs on vaccines but decided to register recently because a third brand of vaccine, this one from Johnson and Johnson, has increased the supply.

“A minute after I registered I had a text and an email,” he wrote. “Three minutes later I had an appointment. I will be going to it shortly.”

And for those who are wondering, I am 63 but I was still eligible for the vaccine because of a pre-existing condition and my caretaker status for two of my adult sons, both who are also eligible for the vaccine because of their disabilities and one who also has a pre-existing medical condition.

And then there was Anne, who derided the part of my column in which I say the vaccine’s side effects for me included a sore arm and a sense of hope.

“Hope – a wish for things to change/get better – is a bit too closely connected to fantasy for me,” she wrote. “Hope won’t produce more vaccine, or distribute it, or get it into the arms of people who are ready, willing and able to receive it. Production, distribution and administration require a robust, reliable public health infrastructure, not hope.”

Anne also warned the vaccine won’t magically return life back to normal. On that she is correct. Getting enough people vaccinated is a game changer, to be sure. But it’s just one step, albeit a huge one, toward normalcy. The need for masks, distancing and hand-washing won’t disappear with a couple of shots to the arm.

But after nearly a year living under this virus gloom, a vaccine does offer relief, joy and, yes, hope.

“When I got my event code for the neighborhood Walgreens last week, I felt like I had won the Powerball,” Julie wrote.

Laurie put it this way: “I’m getting my first shot tomorrow while my more needy husband sits and waits for that winning lottery ticket disguised as a little ole text message. Patience is something we have gotten pretty good at.”

New Mexico is also pretty good at doling out doses of vaccine, despite the seeming randomness of it all. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, New Mexico is tops in terms of administering the highest percentage of COVID-19 vaccines it has received.

New Mexico is about to receive more. Last week, Journal colleague Colleen Heild reported that more than 17,000 doses of the newly approved Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine were expected to arrive in New Mexico, marking a near 30% increase in the state’s recent weekly allocation.

Also, the state’s seven-day average number of cases was the lowest it’s been since early October. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had also declined.

In Wednesday’s column, I mentioned several people who I fretted had not received a vaccine. But there’s good news there, too. Mike, who has cancer, received his first vaccine this week. Sheila, who said she felt forgotten, got her first shot this week by learning from a friend about a shot clinic she was eligible for. Even my 96-year-old aunt received her first vaccine this week.

Sorry, Anne, but there is reason to hope. And I’m going to.

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, jkrueger@abqjournal.com or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg.

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