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Giving Your Best Shot

, , , | Related Right | July 15, 2016

(It is 2004, when a bad batch of the flu vaccine creates a shortage for that year. So, high-risk groups like the elderly, young children, and people with chronic health issues are prioritized. My brother and I go to a local clinic with our grandparents. Note that my state is known for being constantly nice and generous.)

Nurse: “I’m afraid we don’t have enough doses for everyone. So if you don’t have or aren’t…” *she lists criteria* “…please prioritize those that are at high risk.”

(About a third of the people leave, making the line mostly older people.)

Older Customer: “What are you doing here, hon? You’re not the right age for the risk.”

Grandmother: *indignant* “[My Name] has asthma. The flu complications could kill her.”

Older Customer: “Oh, my gosh! I’m sorry. Hey, let this kid up the line. She has asthma.”

(As I move up, I see my neighbor heading out, carrying her recently internationally-adopted daughter, about four.)

Me: “Wait! [Neighbor]! Don’t leave. [Child] gets priority, too. Her immune system needs help to adjust to the US. Here, give her to me. I’ll make sure she gets it.”

(Especially because I am carrying a toddler, many of the mostly-older people let me up to the front of the line, saying it’s better to protect the younger generation. I soon reach the nurse.)

Me: “If there’s not enough, give the shots to [Child] and my grandparents. I can go without.”

(Both my grandparents come up to us and interrupt.)

Grandfather: “No. You are getting this shot. I am 78 while you have 65 more years to go!”

Grandmother: “Absolutely not. Give it to [My Name]. Even if you have to skip us.”

Nurse: “Wait…” *counts heads* “There should be enough now that some people have left. You can all get it.”

(Despite this, even the frailest-looking old people continued to push children and the very ill to the front of the line; I later read that the vaccine shortage was much less of a problem in Minnesota since many people chose to make sure there was enough for those at risk.)

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