The morning felt cold like a puppy’s nose when a puppy is awake. The air was wet like a mosquito’s leg caught in a spider’s web in a rainy day on the Mississippi Delta. The temperature, however, hovered around the 39 degrees Fahrenheit mark.
Still, this was Minneapolis, the city whose iconic Bob Dylan lived in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota campus singing ballads in Friday evening frat parties, the city where Prince tested reactions to his new songs’ unannounced in a club called First Avenue, the city that woke up the world with protests after the killing of George Floyd by a white cop Derek Chauvin who with his look of “I can kill a black man with my knee if I want” sent ripples rich with destruction and rude awakenings about cruel systematic racism across the globe. Translation: a city may have talents of angels but harbor monsters of hell. The day George Floyd died was on May 25 2020. Three days after Floyd was killed, May 28, 2020, the number of people in the United States who had died from COVID-19 surpassed 100,000. Reaching the milestone of 100,000 casualties in such a short timeframe was sobering development and a heart breaking reminder of the horrible toll of this unprecedented pandemic.
The immensity of the COVID-19’s grave situation did not deter the fed-up protesters reacting to systematic racism in the United States in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Ripples of discontent were heard and felt everywhere after the May 25 2020 killing of unarmed Floyd.
BEHIND THE COVID-19 VACCINE:
“When Chinese scientists published the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence on the internet on January 10, 2020, multiple vaccine programs were started within days because existing vaccine design methods could be repurposed”. (Source: the internet).
The scientific reasoning behind the current COVID vaccines was based on previous studies regarding dangerous viruses that have buffeted human beings. Decades of work on the corresponding HIV spike protein and its counterparts from other viruses including SARS, MERS, and other seasonal coronaviruses, showed how best to design a COVID-19 virus vaccine.
BACK TO THE COVID-19 VACCINE ROOM:
By the clinic window a stout man dressed in black outfit and blue jeans loudly broadcast in an Arabic English accent what he was doing, (although medical records are protected by law unless one gives consent for their access): “should I sign here? What’s today’s date?” His words could be heard across the hallway.
The waiting line was long and winding. The line on the floor was decorated with blue “Stay 6 Feet Apart” words. In front of me, a woman stood inches from the “Stay 6 Feet Apart” sign. She seemed not focused on what was happening here -- shifting her eyes vacantly at objects not related to the surroundings as if she was mentally managing an unfinished piece of business.
The crowd grew in simmering gradualness. A woman clad in green hospital scrub and a blue mask greeted people as they came in, asking them questions and taking their temperature by pointing a thermometer at the forehead and then giving them stickers with a number that showed the date in heavy ink. Behind her sat a man in his sixties in security guard uniform, with a badge. He greeted incoming people too.
Not everyone here came for the Covid-19 vaccine. But everyone here seemed to be governed by or affected by COVID-19 because all the people that I saw were wearing masks.
When it was my turn the clinic clerk asked what my name was. I told her but she could not pronounce it. I told her it’s “Hu” and not “He...” because she called me “Herbert”. She too had an accent that has overtones of someone fluent in Spanish. She said “we are running late this morning.” She did not tell me why.
“Running late and it’s only 8:10?” I asked.
“Did people call in sick?” I added.
She didn’t respond to why the COVID vaccine injections were running late this morning.
Those of us who came for the COVID vaccine waited. There was a section for that. Plenty of chairs and a desk here or there. No magazines or any printed matter. Just pencils to fill out Covid-19 forms.
No names were being called. For the gathering of people waiting for their vaccine shots. Which means even as the size of those waiting grew, there was no movement that gave the hope that someone was being vaccinated. I had an appointment to drive to almost 20 miles away within the next 90 minutes. And another appointment back in the city within 4 hours. So, I grew concerned. What I’m trying to say is that appointments are there for a reason, which included making sure everyone has a fair share to be seen by medical expert or personnel. But the urgency of time and goals in life vary from person to person. If I’m driving and I have to get to a place at a certain time, I drive by legal traffic speed limits while exercising caution and discretion. I don’t want to be late. Tardiness is an invitation to failure. If you have a habit of being tardy, you’ll succeed less in life because you don’t meet your goals if you have any. There’s a chance you’ll be tardy for something than can benefit you and change your life for the better. You’ll be late at achieving anything you are driving at in life if you don’t practice being punctual in your appointments.
That’s the way I see it. I don’t know about others. Medical appointments have a universal time limit because others need to be seen too. Appointments are not supposed to last forever. Most injection appointments are a few minutes long. But one has to wait for 15 minutes before they leave after the Covid-19 vaccine shot to make sure the body doesn’t have an allergic reaction to the injection. Reacting to a Covid vaccine can be anaphylactic.
Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to things like peanuts, bee stings, or an injection. An allergy doctor told me allergic reactions are signs that the body is protecting itself.
At the clinic time went by. Moment by moment. Minute by minute. There was no movement. The crowd was getting bigger and not decreasing. I noticed that no patient names were being called.
I glanced at my watch. It was 15 minutes past my appointment time of 8:20am for my second dose of Pfizer COVID vaccine. In most clinic waiting rooms, they have signs that if you have waited for 15 minutes and your name has not been called, you need to say something.
That I did. I went straight to the woman at the radiology window which was the window nearest to me that had a member of the clinic staff and that member was not busy attending someone else.
“Why are names not being called?” I asked.
She apologized but she didn’t give me a reason.
A guy sitting 8 feet from me, by the window, nodded, in agreement.
Suddenly I saw a short man dressed in blue speaking in Spanish and then apologizing in English. I knew what I had done, speaking up, had caused reverberations.
As he got closer to where I was sitting, he said in English: “we’re sorry some vials were spoilt yesterday and we can’t use them today so we are getting new vials. It’ll be another 15 minutes.”
“You should have said this earlier. Why did you keep us in the dark?” I shot back.
“You can reschedule your appointment...” he replied to me as he walked away briskly. I knew he lacked training. In situations like these, if your job is serving people you apologize. Even more than once. You don’t rudely respond by saying “You can reschedule your appointment.” Rescheduling involves reshuffling of things and for those who have busy schedules or a job that requires authorization to leave for an appointment it may need contacting another person to authorize such a rescheduling. Some people don’t think or don’t know much to fall on so that they can say the right things at the right times.
About 4 minutes later, a short Filipino American called my name. He too could not pronounce my first name. As he started saying the first few syllables that sounded like the beginning of my first name, I sensed it was my turn. He said my last name and I responded to let him know it was me he was calling for.
He apologized for the delay and took me to a room. Then he left.
A young Native American woman opened the door and asked if I was there for the first or second dose of the vaccine. I said the second dose. She quickly left.
Then a nurse came with my vaccine. My shirt had cuff links. I chose the left arm. She had to undo the cuff link so she could access the part of my arm where she would inject me. As I tried to take in a deep breath waiting for the feel of the sharp needle going into my flesh she did it faster than drop of a hat. I could not feel when she went into my flesh. That’s how good she was. The only way of knowing she was done is when she announced it was done. It took like one second. I was impressed. Some of the nurses are very good at it. They will draw your blood or give you an injection and you’ll feel just a little discomfort. I always praise them if I didn’t feel discomfort or pain. I tell them that they are very good at that part of their job. They’re human too. They like compliments like every human being.
So this marked me getting my second dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. There was a delay, yes, because they had problems with the vials yesterday. We’re all human. If a vaccine is delayed for one hour it’s not as big an issue as missing a vaccine for months. Or forever.
Remember when we didn’t have any vaccine for COVID and people were dying like falling bricks? People are still getting infected. The past is gone and things won’t be the same. But the present isn’t perfect either. Nor is the future certainly free from infection by COVID.
I’ll wait till more people are vaccinated because there are doubters out there. When COVID-19 is under control and those vaccinated are not infecting other people then I’ll rethink.
For the time being, although I’m fully vaccinated with Pfizer dose one and dose two,
I’ll still wear a mask,
Wash my hands for 20 seconds or more,
Practice social distancing,
Listen and follow CDC, medical and science experts’ advice.
Because there’s no room for conspiracy theories,
There’s no room for superstition or witchcraft.
The COVID-19 pandemic is real. The fact that you can’t see it with the naked eye doesn’t mean it isn’t REAL.
You don’t see cancer with the naked eye, do you?
You don’t see pneumonia with the naked eye, do you?
Viruses are smaller than bacteria. Bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. Viruses can’t be treated with antibiotics.
That you don’t believe what I’m saying doesn’t take away it being a fact. It’s okay to practice your freedom of choosing whether or not to be vaccinated. But when you get sick from COVID-19 don’t add to the labor and misery of the already overwhelmed medical staff – who are weighed down by the rise in COVID-19 cases and heavy demands posed by COVID-19 infection on a patient's body. There are spikes of COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country at the time this article was being written. And we want to bring those spikes down or stop them. Stay home if you refuse to be vaccinated and get sick from COVID-19. Don’t bother calling the ambulance.
How about that?
Please get vaccinated. Follow guidelines. Let’s make life beautiful for everyone. Life is precious and beautiful. Let’s make it that way for everyone.
Get vaccinated and stay safe and Covid-19 free.
This thing called COVID-19 is real.