#7: The vaccine that was never for me

Please note before reading: The thoughts expressed in this piece are not meant to offend anyone. Covid is a weird time; we are all battling inner gremlins, and have had to make tough moral and ethical choices. I hope this piece will inspire some deeper thinking and action. Please reach out if you want to talk. My door is always open.

I woke up feeling queasy, with knots in my stomach. It was 5:15am, on Friday, March 12th.

I told myself the discomfort would end soon. Hopefully, it would end in the next 30 minutes, before I would call an Uber to Mt. Zion Mission Church in Oakland, California, so I could wait in a queue of 400 people - who all, like me, would be desperately trying to get Covid-19 vaccinated.

I, like so many people, really want the vaccine. As a knowledge worker, I’m getting tired of spending so much time in my apartment, of cohabitating the space with my partner, who is on way too many phone calls. I want my life back. I want to go out, I want to travel, I want to see my family. I don’t want to fear that I will infect a high-risk person, who, because of me, because of the air I breathe, will end up in the hospital.

On the other hand, I live a privileged life. I’m a knowledge worker so I can work from home, greatly reducing my chance of getting infected with Covid-19; I live in a beautiful part of the country, with year-round access to nature; I get social interaction while practicing outdoor yoga with a group, and playing tennis matches on a league; I also live near the most expensive zip code in Berkeley: the Berkeley Hills - where I regularly hike through regional parks to watch the sunrise.

Watching the sunrise from a church parking lot at Mt. Zion Mission Church in West Oakland, one of the poorest areas in the Bay Area, was never on my list of top places to watch the sunrise, but I almost did it, because I really wanted the vaccine.

Warning: The next paragraph is graphic.

So, on Friday morning at 5:15am, I had 30 minutes, before I ordered an Uber to convince myself that I am not an immoral piece of shit; that I’m not just another Bay Area person who talks about social inequity and broken systems, but doesn’t do a god damn thing about it; that I’m not just another (ex)tech worker who is fundraising millions of dollars for an application claimed to solve humanity’s woes, when in fact this application can never do what actually needs to happen to fix a broken system: changing the relationship between the system’s elements; relationships that are deeply embedded in hundreds of years of unethical and immoral design by people who didn’t give a shit about the tradeoffs or consequences of the system on future generations, because their motives, first and foremost, were to maximize profit and growth.

My partner learned about the vaccination site from a friend, who was vaccinated at the church site the day before. He asked her for additional information, but, of course, everything was very hush-hush and she didn’t have much to send him, other than this Tweet.

The vaccine site was created by a community health organization, United Health in Oakland. It was strategically placed in West Oakland, a poor, predominantly African American neighborhood. The site is a public health effort, intended to increase vaccinations in the African American community, a group that, historically, has distrusted the healthcare system because of its inequities and racism.

Our friend said they did not check eligibility requirements at the vaccination site.

Come on, everyone is doing it, said the voice in my head; but, this voice is a slippery slope. For example, people who lived under communism, like my parents, heard that voice a lot. It’s the voice that makes you cheat and cut corners because everyone else is doing it, and you want what everyone else has, even if what everyone else has is shitty, because communism is an incredibly broken system that creates inefficiency, ugliness, and human misery.

LisaK, from Twitter, is right: white people should not be swooping in and preying on the vaccine. We should not be taking advantage of a broken system. It’s a slippery slope.

Further reading

Vaccine access codes meant for underserved groups are getting shared by text among healthy, privileged Bay Area residents

Musica 🎷 🎹

Some tunes for your weekend. Enjoy!