After receiving two COVID-19 vaccine doses last month, I am now officially fully vaccinated. At the same time, my father finally embarked on his own vaccination regimen earlier this month. I plan on going with him to the appointment for his second dose next month.
What a time to be alive.
In April 2021, I got both of my COVID-19 vaccine shots. In June 2021, I will finally begin to travel again.
As I write this, I’m also looking up restaurants, finding travel guides on YouTube, stocking up supplies, and deciding which shirts and board shorts to pack in my suitcase(s). Basically, I’m preparing to do something I haven’t done in nearly 15 months: get on an airplane and fly out of state.
I still remember the days when I took air travel and travel in general for granted. Before COVID-19 hit, I regularly flew multiple times per year, particularly to visit my father in Orange County, California. After my dad suffered his heart attack and fall, I frequently flew back and forth between November 2019 and March 2020 to visit him.
For the first time in nearly 15 months, I will hop on board an airplane, sleep in a bed other than my own, eat out at restaurants (other than just “order out” via GrubHub), and visit my dad in person. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, I am preparing to do something that I once took for granted, but now feels like such a monumental change in my life.
My dad is finally undergoing the vaccination process now. Here’s why he waited.
Even though he was among the first to qualify for the COVID-19 vaccines, my dad is only undergoing the vaccination process now. By no stretch is he an anti-vaxxer. Rather, he’s one of possibly millions of Americans who’ve been waiting because they had a hard time navigating earlier versions of the vaccination system.
My dad has struggled with a vision impairment since his heart attack and fall in November 2019, so he had a hard time getting on a website to book a vaccine appointment. And since he already had to juggle multiple doctor appointments, this need to book another health care appointment only added to his stress instead of alleviating it.
For all the continuing fights among politicians and pundits over how much “credit” former President Donald Trump deserves for “Operation Warp Speed”, it’s important to remember that the Trump administration put almost no effort into developing and executing a plan for vaccine distribution and administration. What should have been a momentous life-saving development instead became just another “unfunded mandate” for state and local authorities who were tasked with COVID-19 vaccine rollout yet given very little federal assistance to make it happen.
Following the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Congress’ passage of the American Rescue Plan, federal, state, and local health authorities finally began to fully cooperate, and we finally saw the kind of robust coordinated vaccine rollout that Americans needed and deserved. Still, that initial confusion over how and where to go to get vaccinated only made it easier for Americans like my father to wait, even as I and many others had an easier time navigating the system to schedule our own COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
Finally, my dad got his first COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Just before President Joe Biden gave a speech at the White House on May 4 to announce a new national vaccination strategy that includes more opportunities for appointment-free/walk-in COVID-19 vaccine shots and more support for hyper-local vaccine outreach programs, my dad had some news for me: He had an upcoming appointment to see his primary care physician, and this doctor’s office had plenty of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses to provide to patients.
After that doctor appointment, he called me to confirm he got his first shot. I was so overjoyed that he finally got that first shot, and I was even more overjoyed to learn that his doctor’s office scheduled the second appointment four weeks later. Even better: I will be in Southern California next week, when he’s scheduled for that second Moderna dose.
Following his first “jab”, my dad experienced some mild symptoms of pain and nausea for the next 48 hours. He feels much better now, and he’s looking forward to his fully vaccinated future. At least, I’ll get to accompany him to the big event next week.
What now? What’s next?
As many Americans continue to try to make sense of the new CDC guidelines on vaccinated people and masks, and as a growing number of businesses and public health authorities have more or less confirmed that they’re running an “honor system” and preferring to believe that everyone is abiding by the CDC guidelines, I’m still packing plenty of masks in my suitcase. Though there’s plenty of scientific evidence in support of the current CDC guidelines working in a more ideal world where everyone acts honorably under the “honor system”, the fact of the matter is that we don’t live in anything close to an ideal world. (Case in point: Check our “This Week in Corona Scams” archives.)
In the past week, I’ve gradually been experimenting with ditching my masks in the outdoor grounds of my immediate neighborhood, including my community’s pool area, and I continue to practice social distancing. When I venture well beyond my immediate neighborhood and face a greater likelihood of going into an indoor environment that’s not my own home, I continue to wear a mask. And since the State of California continues to enforce a stronger mask mandate through June 14, my goal is to act above and beyond the state’s standard, especially when it comes to keeping my dad safe and healthy.
Like so many other people, my dad and I have been trying our best to navigate the many twists and turns of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m so grateful that I’m now fully vaccinated, and I’m so relieved that my dad finally got his first COVID-19 vaccine dose earlier this month. For the first time in 15 months, I’ll finally get to see him in person next week. Maybe, just maybe, we can finally look forward to better days ahead.
If you have further questions about COVID-19 and your health, check Immunize Nevada for more information on vaccine availability in your area, check Nevada Health Response for testing in your area, and check Nevada 211 for more health care resources. If you’re in need of additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square. And for goodness sake, please wear your masks and maintain social distancing when necessary.
The cover photo was taken by me.