My son Kevin is 57 and lives in Mobile. He has a severe respiratory condition known as alpha 1-antitrypsin related emphysema. This means his liver does not produce a certain enzyme needed for the lungs to retain elasticity. A very rare condition.
He has been hospitalized seven times in the last 16 years with respiratory issues and is on oxygen most of the time.
Yet, even with this condition, he is having great difficulty in finding a way to receive the covid vaccine.
Here is how he describes his situation:
Well, it’s pretty much a given I’m not going to be getting a COVID-19 vaccination for a while. We have exhausted all the avenues given to us, registered with all the sites, called all the phone numbers and it appears to be all for naught. Local supplies are basically exhausted.
Compounding the frustration of this is that we have seen a wealth of social media announcements from individuals who got vaccinated but they are in far better health than I am. Some don’t meet any of the criteria for getting vaccinated now, not in age, risk category or profession.
Finally, I wrote someone I know through the newspaper who is a public information officer at the Mobile County Health Department and asking how I could get vaccinated like all the other line-jumpers I have seen.
His answer was “the federal government won’t give us what we request.” He added that they had hoped to move on to the group of those with pre-existing conditions by this point but don’t have enough vaccine to do so.
In order to receive vaccine, we have to follow the guidelines on who is eligible. If we deviate from the list, there is always the possibility future shipments would be diverted to another health agency.
This is who is currently eligible in Alabama as of February 8:
Individuals 65 years of age and older
Health care workers
Hospital based-occupations with high risk of exposure.
Frontline workers – Frontline workers include those in cybersecurity and infrastructure, first responders, corrections officers and support staff, food and agriculture workers, U.S. postal service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, educators (including support staff), judiciary, clergy, and State of Alabama government officials.
Those living in group homes or settings
He avoided my question. It was no answer to how all these people I’ve seen — librarians, mayoral staff, writers, reporters, p.r. specialists — gained access when there was supposedly a vast shortage. In fact, the vaccinations of some of those people isn’t covered under the guidelines he cited.
The staffer told me MCHD is counting on the circulation of another vaccine like the Johnson & Johnson version to make available to “those with medical issues such as [myself].”
Here’s the sticking point with that: the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s effectivity rate is just over 60 percent, not in the 90 percent range like Pfizer and Moderna. Yet the higher-risk people like me would get that? So the “important” people get the good stuff and the rest of us should be grateful for whatever they deem fit for us.
I don’t even know if that is worth bothering over because I wouldn’t feel any safer with that vaccine. I would still be stuck in the house. I am also waiting on a vaccine before I go to the dentist to fix the tooth I cracked during Hurricane Sally, almost five months ago. I just don’t feel safe enough without it.
I guess that’s what I get for not being Mardi Gras royalty. Looks like Mobile is still the last great plantation.
He is very frustrated. As am I. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
Education Is Everyone’s Business