Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

I Trust Us.

Posted on | December 31, 2020 | 2 Comments

I got my first dose of vaccine today. Not just because I believe in science. Not just because I am desperate for hope. Not just because every sniffle or headache or sore throat sends me running for a piece of chocolate. You know, to ensure my sense of smell and taste is intact. (And you thought I was stress eating. How dare you?)

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t trust Albert Bourla at Pfizer and I don’t have a lot of faith in Stephane Bancel at Moderna either. I understand that CEOs (even researcher CEOs) have money on their minds and their minds on their money. I have doubts that Operation Warp Speed is going to pull off the mass distribution effort that I was expecting—-cargo trucks of vaccines and tent cities of soldiers descending upon American communities to inoculate the citizens. Which may mean that my expectations were falsely raised by too many disaster movies. Or may mean that since I work for the government I’ve seen the government trip over its own bootlaces in the past. It’s never pretty.

So why did I just let someone inject me with the fastest vaccine ever developed? Why was I excited to get it instead of scared, despite the rampant misinformation online. (None of which I will repeat here because come on, America. Take about 20% off.)

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Because I don’t need to trust Big Pharma or Big Government to believe this vaccine will make a difference. I trust us. I know that in every large agency, public or private, the people at the top tend to be very disconnected from the people at the bottom. In the best case scenarios, administration is many career years removed from the work on the ground. In the worst case scenarios, administration never did the work on the ground–they got hired because they had an MBA and a financial improvement plan. And/or (grrrr!) the right connections. But the people on the bottom—those are my people. That’s me. That’s us.

So I put my trust in Katalin Kariko. The woman who kept working on mRNA theory even when the money dried up. Even when she was passed over for promotions. Even when she just had a handful of fellow researchers who believed in her project. Those are my people. That’s us. And for every scientist or researcher that was selling stock options, there were 100s (probably 1,000s) more that were trying to save their grandmas, their primary care providers, their kids’ teachers, their communities’ essential workers. And in the process they are saving us.

While the politicians and civic leaders were battling over mask mandates, researchers at the local university’s physics department were testing the effectiveness of masks with a cell phone and a laser beam. The impetus for the study? “…A professor at Duke’s School of Medicine was assisting a local group buy masks in bulk to distribute to community members in need wanted to make sure the group purchased masks that were actually effective.” That professor is just one of us, trying to reach the people where he lives and works. I don’t need a mask mandate from the Governor with the Duke Physics department working on the ground. I trust us.

Every time someone in my household has a potential COVID exposure, I don’t waste a lot of time on the many pages of the CDC website. I’ve tried calling the local health department but agency hours are only Monday through Friday from 8-5. ‘Cause you know, government work. So I go straight to the source—I have a nurse friend that works at the local health department and another that is the Public Information Officer and another that is doing contact tracing. Despite the fact that these women are exhausted and broken and barely have time to eat, or sleep, or see their families they are still always up to date and have all the answers. Because the people are the ground don’t spend time golfing or visiting their palatial estates to escape the pressure of leadership. They can’t give up when the citizens are clamoring for public health services —regardless of those same citizens’ failure to follow the medical guidelines. They know us (they were there back in the days when we stumbled in with an STD and acted like we had no idea how that could have happened), they are us, and I trust us.

And while it doesn’t look like the National Guard is pulling off a vaccination operation any time soon, local public safety is holding our own. It’s true that public safety is like a large family. Not necessarily with all the warm fuzzies you see posted online. After all, if you haven’t ever wanted to punch a family member in the face at least once, are you really family? If you haven’t seen your brother slip and fall and laughed for few minutes seconds before helping him up, is really your brother? In public safety we can feud with the best of them but when we’re done fighting over station duties and call volume, when the sh*t really hits the fan, we’re just like family—we’ve only got each other to lift one another up so we might as well wade in and get it done. There have been many times since this virus hit the streets that a co-worker, a supervisor, or even an administrator grabbed me by the hand and pulled me up. Even if they made a heavy sigh first. Because, you know: Me. Again. (There are rules at my agency made just because of me. And I can never decide if I’m proud or ashamed.) So, in the end, I trust us.

Which is why I drove up to the local high school and got my vaccination. My co-workers and other county volunteers had traffic cones and paperwork and the Pfizer vaccine that might just be the beginning of the end of this nightmare. There wasn’t a lot of info on how the second dose is going to be handled. But despite the news about backorders and shipping issues and impending delay I wasn’t worried about it. There are people on the ground getting it done. There are always people on the ground like us doing the work and God knows we aren’t doing it for the money. We’re doing it for our families and our co-workers and our communities. There are plenty of us doing the work. And I trust us.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor, text that says 'VACCINATOR 152'
P.S. I stole James Johnson’s photo ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments

2 Responses to “I Trust Us.”

  1. Tanya Lam
    January 1st, 2021 @ 9:57 am

    Thanks for all that you are doing at work as an EMT and in your everyday life as a good citizen of our planet. Iโ€™m glad that you got the vaccine snd I canโ€™t wait for my turn! ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Holly Hogarth
    January 1st, 2021 @ 12:32 pm

    Good stuff! I appreciate your work on the front lines and your voice of reason.

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