After about 40 minutes each Thursday morning (and much earlier work by Porter), we're signed up to get the Moderna vaccine next week.

Aren't I worried about getting a new type of vaccine that was rushed into production and has had no long-term testing?

Of course I am. I'd be a fool not to be. I look at the people who treat getting vaccinated as some sort of essential religious rite and wonder how they can be so naïve. These are people who otherwise seem sensible and rational. But vaccines are not safe. That's "not safe" as in "some people are going to have adverse reactions, some of them horrific, and some people are going to die." "Not safe" as in "it's not safe to drive your car to work." As in "it's not safe to jog past a tree because a branch might fall down and kill you." (That one happened here in Central Florida not that long ago.)

We don't get vaccines because they're safe. We get them because we have determined that they are better than the alternative, and we hope they are safe enough. "Better" may be defined as "safer"—or it may involve other criteria as well, such as "I don't need this pertussis vaccine for myself, but I'm planning to visit my newborn grandson, so I'll get it for his sake." In any case, we decide to continue jogging, and hope that we will not be the unlucky one passing under the wrong tree at the wrong time.

However, no one should make that decision for you. Pressure—let along compulsion—either way is wrong.  I'm not out-and-out pro-vaccine, and I'm not out-and-out anti-vaccine.  I'm pro-common sense.

I'm fully aware that this vaccine may later be pulled from the market because of some adverse effect or another. I've seen that happen enough times in my lifetime to think otherwise. So why am I taking it? Because I have looked at the risk/benefit analysis and concluded it's worth it. I've participated in a vaccine trial before (Haemophilus influenzae b) with no problems. As a medical center employee, I took the swine flu vaccine back in 1976—the last time the U.S. government felt pressured to prevent "the worst epidemic since 1918"—despite its apparent link to Guillain-Barré Syndrome. I've subjected my body to numerous travel-related vaccines (such as typhoid and yellow fever). I've had the old-style pertussis vaccine and also the new one. I've had both the Salk and the Sabin polio vaccines. I've even been vaccinated for smallpox. In all this, I've never had an adverse vaccine reaction. (I don't count getting miserably sick for a day after each of my first two typhoid vaccines; that was considered par for the course and left no lasting damage.)

I'm not reckless in grabbing any new vaccine that comes around. For years I skipped the hepatitis b vaccine because, as my doctor said, my risk factors were so low it wasn't worth it. (But when we started travelling to more countries with less robust medical infrastructure, he and I both agreed it was then time to take that one.) Our kids never got the smallpox vaccine that was essential in my early days, because the risks from the vaccine are currently greater than the possibility of getting exposed to the disease.  I never had nor ever intend to get the measles, rubella, or chicken pox vaccines—for the very good reason that I already have a better immunity than vaccines can give, having had those diseases in my childhood. But since my body seems to be pretty good at handling vaccines, I'm willing to give this new one a chance.

So much for the risks. I figure I'm probably in more danger driving to and from the vaccination site than from the vaccine itself.

And the benefits? Partly they're for me, and partly for others. I figure the quicker we develop herd immunity as a society, the sooner we can shed our masks and go back to hugging and travelling and living. I trust that if I develop an immunity to COVID-19, I won't pass the virus on to someone else. I hope I'll also be pushing us forward along the path to re-opening state and international borders. Whether you believe all the shutdowns and quarantines were necessary actions or foolish, I think we can agree that keeping grandparents away from their grandchildren, and letting people die shut away and alone, are very bad ideas. Inhumane ideas. If I can contribute to ending this oppression, I want to do my part.

I'd rather not have worked so hard to get our appointments. Maybe there's someone who needs this vaccine more. But Florida seems to be doing a good job of making the vaccines available—I know other states that haven't even begun to offer them—so we might as well get the thing done while we're still considered high priority (over 65).

At least we didn't have to make the decision about which vaccine to get; we "chose" the Moderna vaccine simply because that's what was first available to us. Personally, I leaned toward the Oxford, simply because of this meme:

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both effective, protective and safe.

But the Oxford one seems to be effective, protective, and safe.

Stay tuned for more of our vaccine experiences as they happen.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, January 9, 2021 at 11:39 am | Edit
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I've been debating about getting it. I didn't it in the first round of Moderns vaccines, but there is a second round next week.

There is definitely pressure to get it from various places.

As I understand it, you can still pass the virus onto others even after having the vaccine, like other vaccines.

I'm leaning towards getting it, but I don't really know.

Posted by Jon on Sunday, January 10, 2021 at 5:40 am

It's done. Well, the first half, anyway. Next one in three weeks. I was very impressed by how well-organized the process was, and how smoothly and quickly it went. The only surprise was that we received the Pfizer vaccine instead of the Moderna as stated on the original paperwork. I guess they give out whichever they can get their hands on.

Since we've been warned that the second dose of the Pfizer has been known to wipe recipients out for a day, we'll see what happens with our dentist appointments, currently scheduled for the day after.

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, January 11, 2021 at 8:54 pm

V1Day+1: Some soreness in my vaccine arm. Nothing else to say at this point.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 5:18 am

Florida is way ahead of Indiana. To get the vaccine here, I would have to be over 80.

Posted by Kathy Lewis on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 11:35 am

I've heard that's true in some other states, too. I wonder why—I thought it all came through the CDC.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 12:13 pm

My understanding from the press conference was that each state is handling the distribution through its own priorities and infrastructure. So there is variety among the states. Except for New York.

Posted by Brenda on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 8:48 am

Brenda, what do you mean by "Except for New York"?

I'm now inclined to believe that Porter's speculation is correct, at least in accounting for some of the difference. I believe we can credit 2004 for a good deal of Central Florida's excellent response. That was the year we were slammed by four hurricanes in a row—after some 40 years of peace on the weather front. It was a huge wake-up call that our emergency response infrastructure needed some work, and we rose to the occasion. Of course, hurricane preparedness is not the same thing as preparing for a pandemic, but I'm sure it's easier to repurpose infrastructure than to create it from scratch.

Plus, we have big buildings. Talking to people in other states, I hear stories of auditoriums being used as spaces for distributing "large numbers" of vaccines. Compare this to Central Florida, where they use the huge Orange County Convention Center parking lot for that purpose, with drive-through vaccinations, roving doctors on skateboards, and dedicated areas of the lot for the mandatory "let's see if you're going to pass out, go into shock, or grow horns" period. Plus there are mobile vaccination sites that target individual neighborhoods. Even tiny Seminole County has already administered some 18,000 doses.

Posted by SursumCorda on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 9:18 am
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