Saturday, March 06, 2021

the dearly departing

Controversy about the Covid-19 vaccination still stalks the streets. Even over simple details like dates.

Last night, I attended a small dinner party at Papapa Gallo's to celebrate the departure of an acquaintance. If "celebrate" is the correct word for someone leaving.

Robert is a veterinarian from Mississippi who has visited Melaque for half-a-score winters. But it is now time for him to return to his home north of the border. He will board an airplane today to return to the Magnolia State.

Of the six of us at dinner, four have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccination for covid-19. I received mine on 18 February 
(a tale of two lines). The other three received theirs on 17 February. When each of us left the vaccination clinic in Cihuatlán, we received a piece of paper showing the date of our first vaccination, a line for information concerning the second vaccination, and some additional warnings.

The current controversy centers around the line set aside for the second vaccination.

Let me provide a little context. After receiving the vaccination, each of us was ushered to a covered area in the clinic's garden where we were seated under a shelter. The purpose of that stop was two-fold: first, to let us wait for a half-hour to see if any of us had an adverse reaction to the vaccination, and, second, to discharge us and provide us with information about our first and second vaccinations.

We exchanged our sign-in form for a second piece of paper. You can see a portion of my copy of the second form at the top of this essay. The bottom of the form requests people who suffer any untoward effects following the vaccination to report it immediately through a provided telephone number.

But there is no controversy about that. The woman who filled out the second form wrote in a date on the line for the second vaccination. And that is the source of some confusion. My dinner partners were certain that the date was for their second vaccination, though no one told them that. It does look like what a northerner would assume to be an appointment.

Other people on Facebook, who speak Spanish, tell them that the young woman who discharged them, referred to the date as an appointment. But that is not my story.

The 30-minute wait turned into almost two hours for my vaccination group. I was within 4 people of being called next, when one of the vaccination team members sat down next to me and reviewed my form to see if it was completed correctly.

He told me the date on the form for the second vaccination was only approximate and that I would receive a call for the exact date and for the place of vaccination on that day. Apparently, there had been some serious logistical problems in using the IMSS clinic.

As you can see, he also annotated my form with the information he had just shared. I must have been showing my dotage that day.

The tentative nature of the second vaccination made sense when he told me why the appointment system for vaccinations had been scrapped in favor of a "all-seniors-on-deck" approach. The computer-based appointment system had numerous problems. If only people with appointments had been vaccinated, a good deal of vaccine would have expired. So, the team improvised -- to everyone's benefit.

Confusingly, there is a second entry with the date 15 April, and that line refers to the date as "Fecha de tu Cita para tu Segundo dosis." I guess, you don't pay your pesos, but you take your chances.

Subsequent news has also pointed out supply problems. The EU is trying to restrict the export of any of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Europe from being exported outside of the EU. (The target, of course, is Britain, but all other non-EU countries will suffer from a rather blatant protectionist move of vaccine nationalism.) That move has been exacerbated by production issues that have left promised shipments late in coming. Mexico is not a priority on the shipment list.

I am hoping my 15 April date is just what the young man said. Approximate. I have seen a couple of studies that this particular vaccine attains its greatest protection at 90 days. For me, that would be 15 May -- or thereabouts. The later the better.

Having said that, if I have not received a telephone call by 14 April, I will drive over to Cihuatlán on the morning of 15 April to see if the vaccination clinic has once again set up shop at IMSS. If it is not there, I will check the two general hospitals. After all, they are only a needle-toss from one another.

One way or the other, we will all get our second jabs. But I am not going to be anxious if it does not happen on tax-filing day.*

* -- Speaking of income taxes, that is a topic I would like to discuss. Probably tomorrow. 

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