Thursday, April 1, 2021


I got my second dose of the Moderna vaccine today.

So far, it has to be said, I feel pretty good. The only side effect I’ve noticed is a general feeling as if I had run into a doorjamb bicep first yesterday – it’s a bit sore but nothing I’d really notice if I weren’t looking for it. I’m told that the second day is when things will either happen or they won’t, so I’m hoping my luck continues to hold.

It was a fairly pedestrian event, getting the shot. I drove down to the local vaccination center, about a 12-minute ride from my house. There was plenty of parking. I showed the guy at the table the form that I’d printed off and filled in the night before, showed them my card from the first shot, and stood in a line of people about four deep.

Five minutes later I was standing at the front of the line, and a minute or so after that the young woman in the blue scrubs pointed me at one of the stations so I went over and sat down. It was the same guy who’d given me my first shot, and we traded some talk about the prospects of the Philadelphia Eagles this season while he jabbed me with the needle. We both agree that Carson Wentz is going to be happier elsewhere, and likely the Eagles will be happier with him elsewhere too. So win all around.

The shot took about a minute, what with all the swabbing and the bandaid, and then I was directed to another room where I handed over the form and sat down for fifteen minutes, just in case something untoward happened. There being no unpleasantness, I left and drove home.

Simple. Easy. One might even go so far as to say boring.

And yet.

For all that the actual events were nothing exciting, the fact is that it did feel historic in a way. We’re a year into this pandemic in this country (why there are still people who haven’t figured out how to wear a mask, I don’t know – I potty trained toddlers faster than that) and only now are we looking at what might be the end game for it. Only now are we looking at responsibly returning to something vaguely resembling normal activities in the near future.

To get to this point required a marshalling of science and industry on a grand scale. Most vaccines take years or even decades to develop. This one, building on a significant pile of basic scientific research, took less than a year. And there’s at least three other vaccines in common use as well now.

I once developed a 20th-century world history class for a university that wanted me to teach mostly nursing students, so I ended up skewing the entire class toward health care issues. We looked at the 1918 flu. We looked at the eugenics movement. We looked at WWII as a medical issue. It was a few years ago, so the last thing we looked at was growing antibiotic resistance.

Walking into that center felt like walking into a new unit of that class.

It’s a good feeling, and those have been few and far between over the last twelve to fourteen months.

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