The Vaccination Game
Fifty-eight days into the administration of Joe Biden, our local lad turned President of the United States, we achieved his promised milestone. He promised “100 million shots for the virus in the first 100 days of office—100 million shots in 100 days,” and he delivered them in 58.
But he didn’t do it alone. We did it—together.
Beginning with White House Corona Coordinator Jeff Zients and ending in Manatee County, Florida, at the Department of Health Drive-Through Vaccination Clinic, where Dr. Edwin Hernandez, Eddie Rosa, Geoff Cordes, and Sergio, Diana, Jackie, Alex, Deb, Sean, Candace, and so many others, including myself, we have become an army out to vanquish a common enemy.
We are foot soldiers, blisters and all, working tirelessly, along with others at so many other sites throughout the country, all believing deeply in the service we are providing.
Service. The word echoes deep. When I was fortunate enough to join the Manatee County group, it was this belief of “service” which made the proverbial, (and quite literal), 10 miles of bad road we walk, and occasionally run, every single day worth every ache and pain. We take paper, check paper, revise paper, and issue new paper. We do this all by moving ourselves, and lines of cars, through station after station, as we run on asphalt, dodging belching car exhaust, for 10 hours a day.
Two thoughts: One, my Apple watch may never recover. Two, there’s a terrific board game aspect to this whole thing, a kind of special, limited-edition version of Candyland. I will call it Covidland. Players, aka drivers, helped by live-action coaches, aka staff, navigate curves and straightaways until finally reaching Vaccination Valley where they receive the much-coveted COVID-19 vaccination shot for the win.
More than 2,000 people a day, in the safety of their vehicles, take their place at the starting line and we jockey them through the gauntlet of paperwork. With each added signature they reach their penultimate plateau, and then coast to their final option, left or right—arm, that is.
Of course, like all good games, there are setbacks. First, players must seek entrance at our gate, which is well guarded. If you can prove you are you, and that you have an appointment, you will move into the next straightaway—unless modern technology messed with your digital appointment; aka, glitches happen.
Successful navigation at the entrance leads you directly to the Isle of Rising Temp, aka the Thermometer People. Here, modern technology truly is your new best friend—just imagine what this line might have been before non-contact, instant readout digital thermometers.
So far, so good. But Paperwork Plaza still lies ahead, and with it, a major risk. Did you bring your completed forms? Say yes, and you will be given a golden ticket, aka a vaccination card, and a straight shot to Vaccination Valley. Answer no and uh oh, it’s the Desert of Despair, aka a dirt pullout, where you take a penalty to fill out the paperwork you should have filled out earlier in the game.
But as the hundreds of daily players navigate those lines, we see bits of joy and magic happen. Emotions overflow—tears of joy, sighs of relief, words of gratitude. Soon our players will be able to kiss a son or a daughter, hug a grandchild, and embark upon the new normal, with our world a little safer.
And the players are our heart and soul: a man born in 1919, who drove himself to the game! A man in an electric wheelchair who made his way through our line. Children driving parents. Couples with puppies in tow. Friends who brought friends. A deaf couple for whom I stepped further back and pulled down my mask so they could read my lips.
And then there are those who give back to us. A man who arrived for his second dose with cases of water because last time, he saw us running so hard in the heat. A woman brought us a bag of mini-Snickers, another homemade cookies. Another woman, an artist, painted a small, flat rock for us—“to the Covid heroes.” It’s now our cherished paperweight, a reminder in the midst of the paper piles.
COVID heroes. There are so many. From doctors and nurses fighting to keep us alive until we got this vaccination “game” going. Scientists worldwide who raced to find answers. Grocery workers and postal workers and food truckers and yes, the toilet paper manufacturers!
And 100 million people now vaccinated. An army of WE THE PEOPLE!
President Joe Biden is asking us to double down and hit the 200 million-vaccinated mark. Get your friends. Get your family. Get it done! Get in the Covidland game. Together, we’re making wellness.