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Virus Without Borders: Chapter Fifty-Seven


10,000 Calls




I have been calling to get an appointment anywhere, every morning, every afternoon, and often I've been online at night.


Fran Goldman, 90, a Seattle resident, as reported by the AP



Sound familiar? From what I can tell, Fran's story is everywoman's and everyman's story this week. She is internet savvy and lucked out: she got an appointment, but had to walk back and forth on her own in Seattle's unprecedented snowstorm. A personal friend of mine had ambulatory surgery in New York a few weeks ago, was released, and had to forge a snowstorm to get home on a bus, her neighbor/escort hanging on to her for dear life. In the midst of the pandemic, there were no provisions in the hospital, or the city, to make sure she got home safely. Nor were there beds available for her to stay the night. My husband and I got our second shots, but many "eligible" people I know have not been able to get their shots, or have traveled far to get their shots. And what about people who can't do that? Or can't navigate the internet?


Remember President Bush's "thousand points of light," i.e. volunteerism. Well, there are volunteers now helping folks get appointments. Nice, but not an answer. What we need is an emergency preparedness infrastructure. What we need is federally and state employed logisticians. But this is the USA. Good luck. Even the United Nations, crippled as it is by member states' hubris and intransigence, even they do better in countries far far away that sometimes do not even have running water. Vaccination programs succeed.


Do you think the United States will be prepared for the next pandemic or climate change catastrophic event? Or are we, individualistic Americans, Texans every one, content with handing over our fates—physical, mental, spiritual—to our paralyzed governments and private grid owners? And why isn't the army or National Guard administering vaccine so that citizens and health care providers do not have to scramble for supplies? And why did Walgreen's and CVS, private for-profit companies, get the gig, their websites crashing every day?


These  are rhetorical questions. Next up, I will channel the artist Jenny Holzer and write in big print on a brick wall: ARE YOU A SOCIALIST?  Heaven forfend. A centralized, organized system that works, won't it implode our liberties? Is this even a question from anyone with half an education?


Forgive my sarcasm this morning, dear reader, but I had a My Chart conversation with my doctor yesterday in which her over-burdened-self  revealed that when the clinic announced they had a new supply of vaccines, they got 10,000 calls. I had been trying to reach the nurse in the practice for two days as I had an adverse reaction to the second Moderna shot, wanted to report it, and ask a question or two. No such luck. My doctor felt so bad, she apologized. What a ridiculous situation. Because of the collapse—or  nonexistence—of  infrastructure, she could not attend to her patients. In the end, I called a doctor friend in San Francisco. He held my hand long distance and told me to report the adverse reaction to the CDC, which I have done, thus contributing to continuing data collection. They have a user-friendly website for anyone interested:




And PS nothing, absolutely nothing, would have stopped me from getting a shot, even knowing in advance that I'd have a reaction. Please get yours as soon as you are eligible and it is available. Please don't knowingly jump the queue in the chaotic scramble everyone is experiencing. And if you are questioning the wisdom of getting the shot at all, please read this:



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