Written February 2021 — For the last several weeks, I have been immersed in vaccine decision-making as one of several facilitators for a Johns Hopkins project. I have listened to community members from a wide range of demographics and geographies talk about how they have made, or will make, a decision about whether or not to take a Covid vaccine. I have heard so many passionate voices on all sides, pondering the questions, answers evolving. I have been the neutral facilitator, outside observer. But now I find myself faced with the decision myself, and here is my confession.
When it first was available in Santa Fe, I did not rush to get it. I’m in group 1b, eligible after the frontline workers, but I was not sure. Maybe having heard all the fears and reluctance was getting to me. I told myself, “Well, it wouldn’t hurt to wait a while. I don’t need to be first. I’ll take my time and see how it goes.”
Then I got a call from my ex-husband, his voice triumphant, filled with excitement: “I got the vaccine, one of the first…” and he went on to tell me how he stumbled into a line at Sam’s Club and got the first dose, second to follow in a month.
Suddenly, I had to have that vaccine! I registered on the New Mexico Department of Health site, got my code and eagerly awaited notice of my appointment. Nothing. I was impatient, ready to jump in the car…
…until I heard from a friend in Japan. She is a pharmacist and there is no way that she or her family is getting the vaccine. The long term effects of the new RNA-based vaccines are unknown, she warned. They will take their chances….
….And so am I! I don’t care if the Department of Health never calls me. I’m not getting anywhere near that shot!
Then, on a walk, I ran into a neighbor. She’s over 80 and had just come back from her first shot. She was thrilled and told me a long story about how hard it was to find! Calls to the hospital, doctors, Department of Health. No one could help her. Then a friend told her that Albertson’s supermarket pharmacy had it. She called, was on hold for an hour, slammed down the phone and jumped in the car and drove there. They gave it to her on the spot…
…Okay! I was on it. I aborted my walk, hustled home and called Albertson’s. Only had to wait 40 minutes and was told that things had changed and now they were making appointments from the state list, no more dropping in. I said thanks and hung up. If no one wanted to give me a shot, I just wouldn’t get one. I didn’t want one anyway…
…Until, my husband got a call from the VA to come in next Saturday for the vaccine. How come he gets it and I don’t? How come I’m not a veteran? What about facilitators? Don’t we count?
There is such a thing, I have learned, as scarcity mentality. Once you think there is not enough of something, you want it desperately. My decision-making may be just that simple-minded. I can take it or leave it — until I think you’re getting it all and there won’t be any left for me.
And just think, my profession is helping people make clear-headed, fact-based decisions. I hope you see the irony. I do.
Lucy Moore is a mediator and facilitator based in Santa Fe, NM. She blogs once a month at www.lucymoore.com. Lucy did get her first vaccine on February 23, and received her second at the end of March.