Vaccine Envy

Let me get this part out of the way. I am deeply relieved and enormously grateful that South Africa has finally started the vaccine roll-out. Even with the teething problems that we have experienced, that we have begun the process is something that we should all appreciate.

I am delighted that those who are front line medical personnel in the fight against COVID have already started to receive the vaccine. They unquestionably deserve to have been the first to be vaccinated. So much so, that when a friend called me Monday afternoon to say that he is on the way to get jabbed, my relief was such that it was as though it was me who had received the nod.

And that it was me who was on the way to Bara to get “Johnson-ned”.

That was Monday.

By Tuesday my enthusiasm had waned slightly. I was still excited because friends were now on the way to protected health, but I was more or less done with the photos on Facebook. For me, they started to get to be a bit much.

So much so that I can hardly imagine what I will feel like by the end of the day Wednesday.

I do not feel any different towards the recipients, or the order of the process. I just am not so sure that I need to see any more proof of them receiving the jab. Unless medically it is only effective if posted to social media.

We know so little about COVID that it is perfectly possible that this vaccine medically requires a social media posting. Almost as if the insert reads, “In order to activate antibodies, please share on at least 2 of the following platforms. Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, Twitter, Grindr and or LinkedIn. Failure to post 6 hours from receipt of medication could cause the vaccine to become ineffective and could further result in 5 years of very bad karma.”

There also seems to be a further requirement to hashtag #Grattitude and #Blessed much like we used to do when posting of the family on our outrageously expensive holiday in the Maldives #CountingBlessings, so that we could brag about our vacation whilst still appearing to be sensitive and worthy. And also, so that those who could not afford it, won’t feel bad about themselves because they will see that it’s about the things that money can’t buy.

I saw a post in response to one photo too many.

“By all means, post your vaccination pictures. The excitement is real, and the worry and concern at not being vaccinated is huge. And you deserve your shot (excuse the pun) but maybe just be quietly grateful, share the pic amongst your closest circle and then get on with your work without the ceremony.

It is that humility, and modesty that I have seen from the those in the field that has saved so many lives. It is not the bragging about something that most of us have no access to and that we all wish we were getting. It is not to say you don’t deserve it… you do. But ‘First do no harm’ extends itself to so many areas of life. It is worth considering if social media is one.”

There is a difference when people in other parts of the world post photos. We might enjoy them, dislike or be indifferent to them. But unlike in South Africa, in many of those countries, the vaccine is available to everyone.  And to suggest that the photos are to encourage the reluctant to get vaccinated is pretty pointless when the vaccine is not available to most. Much like claiming that your Maldive photos will encourage tourism. If people don’t have the funds, no encouragement will get them there.

Many things can be true at the same time. We can be delighted for another person who receives the vaccine but also desperately concerned about our own health and anxious about the time frame. We can be worried about our family and the elderly and enjoy a massive sense of relief that those who have risked their lives for a year finally get the protection they deserve. We can be grateful that the process has begun but still frustrated because the roll out is slow and cumbersome.

And, we can be happy for those who have received the vaccine without seeing photographic proof of the moment of insertion.