The coronavirus vaccine is still a ways away for a lot of us, and watching the myriad ways our states are making the vaccination process go slowly or inequitably has become one of the nation’s most infuriating pastimes. The glass is definitely half empty—there have been racial inequities in vaccination rates and indeed, focusing on people over 75 first created its own racial inequity, because Black people have a life expectancy below 75 in the U.S.; teachers are being pushed into in-person teaching without getting vaccinated first; grocery workers are similarly being left out despite having to work in person; and people are outright cheating. There’s a lot to be angry about. But at the same time, the glass really is half full here: 13.9% of the U.S. population has had at least one dose, and 6.5% have had both doses. More than 1.5 million shots a day are being administered. Vaccine production is increasing. Some areas have embarked on meaningful programs to fix racial inequities.
And while we shouldn’t let go of the push to get things right, and the rage when things are done wrong, there’s another vaccination-related pastime available: rejoicing in the people who are getting their shots. Maybe it’s someone close to home. In the lobby of my building, there’s a list posted where people can sign when they’ve been vaccinated, and I’m not going to lie: I look at that list regularly, celebrating that my elderly and immunocompromised neighbors are on their way to safety. Maybe it’s close to someone else’s home—I’m with my coworker Gabe Ortíz on this one:
One group is getting an extra up-close view of all this relief and joy: That would be the people administering the vaccinations, who got some attention in an uplifting Washington Post article this week.
According to Northern Virginia nurse Akosua “Nana” Poku, “the emotional time is when I see a husband and a wife receive the vaccine together at the same time, and they’re grandparents, and they’re just so excited to see their grandchildren.” Ohio pharmacy Ebram Botros, an immigrant from Egypt, “feels a special responsibility to reassure Black patients who may be vaccine-averse from a historical legacy of medical abuse,” the Post reported.
”I say quite often, this is probably the most important thing I’ll ever do in my career,” Washington, D.C., nurse Corie Robinson said. An Arizona pharmacist administering vaccines in nursing homes who ended up assigned to vaccinate his wife’s grandmother described his family’s excitement and said: “All of these residents that we’re interacting with have at least one loved one or friend or family member that is going to be going through those same emotions.”
After nearly a year of fear and loss and sacrifice and stress, there is something beautiful happening. Hope is here even for those of us who will be waiting a while. It’s an imperfect process, a frustrating process, but every day 1.5 million people are getting that shot. Let’s also witness the joy.