Before I even begin, let me start with this: If you have the opportunity to get the vaccine, do it! The rest of us who are still waiting for our turn are relying on you to help keep us safe.
At the time of writing this article, Maryland is currently ranked 42 out of 50 for vaccination distribution.
I’m pretty good about waiting my turn and even giving up my turn in line to give it to someone else who needs it more than I do. I do this with just about everything. Whatever it is, I can usually wait.
But not this time. This time, I’m on the priority list and I’m so frustrated that Maryland cannot get it together in such a way that my elderly father-in-law cannot get his vaccine despite being on four waiting lists and I as a cancer patient, undergoing active treatment, will not be able to get the vaccine before the general public.
What the heck is going on?!
In some counties, teachers are required to report for work and still haven’t received the first dose. One of my children’s teachers had to go out of state to get his vaccine so that he’ll be ready when he will be required to report for in person teaching in March.
At my last cancer treatment I overheard my infusion nurses discussing the best places to go to receive the vaccine. They were advised to go out of state to a sister hospital to get their vaccinations because there weren’t enough available in Maryland.
A doctor told me that since I’m no longer immunocompromised and even though I am still going in every three weeks for cancer treatment I cannot receive the vaccine because he simply didn’t have enough to give out…not even to his nurses. They had to prioritize.
Another nurse at a hospital in Anne Arundel County told me that they assigned x number of vaccines to each unit and used the lottery system for the medical staff for them to get the vaccine. Even though her name wasn’t picked initially, she managed to get one because someone else had declined the vaccine.
My mother works in a hospital in Montgomery County and managed to get one because, once again, someone declined and she was able to get it.
My father signed up for a vaccine study so that he had a 50/50 chance to get the vaccine. He’s pretty sure he received the placebo instead.
And while I’m happy that the educators who have been so worried about having to go back to the classroom are able to get in line, it makes me wonder, what do I have to do to get my vaccine when there are just not enough to give out?
Why has it been so difficult for the elderly and the sick to get the vaccines?
My family is still taking all the precautions. My husband does the grocery shopping. We wear masks if we leave the house. We have avoided large gatherings and seeing family during the holidays. We haven’t been able to hug extended family in over a year.
And while our governor is applauding the efforts, I keep thinking, but sir, what about me? And I know you’re reading this and possibly thinking I’m being incredibly self-centered right now. But bottom line, I’m scared.
It’s been bad enough that I have been immunocompromised during the majority of the pandemic. Every time I walked into my medical facility for my chemotherapy treatments, and although I knew that the nurses were being as careful as possible, wearing PPE, I still worried that I could somehow contract the virus from another patient.
I have heard several stories of patients who didn’t want to postpone their cancer treatments even when they had COVID-19 symptoms and still came to their chemotherapy appointments. They endangered the rest of the immunocompromised patients who were receiving their own cancer treatments in the infusion room.
The COVID-19 patients would lie at the front door and later at the admission desk, before an infusion nurse found out the patient coming in had signs of having the coronavirus. They would immediately send them for testing and away from the rest of us who were sick.
But the fact that they were able to make it that far meant there was always a chance for me to get the coronavirus. I lived in fear of getting COVID-19 for those three months when I was receiving chemotherapy and when I was the most susceptible to other illnesses.
Now that we have a better handle on the virus, I’m not as scared, but I sure would like to have that vaccine since I’m still high risk. According to the Maryland State lists I am in Tier 2 (Adults 16-64 at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness due to comorbidities) to receive the vaccine.
Montgomery County, Maryland has put me in Tier 1C. It doesn’t matter which tier I’m in. I am unable to get the vaccine from my provider in Montgomery County due to lack of availability.
I have now put myself on two Maryland lists in the hopes of getting the vaccine from one of them. One of them is a wait list, the one from my provider is simply an “interest” list so they can determine how to rollout the vaccine to interested parties.
In Maryland, Phase 2 recipients are able to receive the vaccine once the majority of those in Phase 1 has been vaccinated, or the federal government’s allocation of vaccines increases. Some counties are reporting up to a 5 week wait for vaccinations.
I am happy that while I wait, more and more people will be getting vaccinated. And while I wait, I will be relying on the beginning stages of herd immunity to keep me safe.
In the meantime, for better or for worse I am totally be judging all those unmasked revelers in Tampa Bay after the Super Bowl win and all those celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans. While I wait to get a vaccination, I’ll be giving you the side eye if you continue to carry on without masks or vaccinations.
I want to celebrate just as badly as you do, but I’ll wait until it’s safe. Thankyouverymuch.
More information on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as Maryland’s phased distribution plan, is available on covidlink.maryland.gov.
Marylanders can also receive updates from Maryland’s 211 text alert system by texting “MdReady” to 898-211.