Jan. 23, 2021
One year ago today, on January 23, 2020, the L. A. Times had two news stories that mentioned the coronavirus and neither one made the first page. The first story was about Wuhan: “China bans travel from city.” The second one was the stock market reaction: “Stocks mostly flat amid virus worry.” The coronavirus had spread to five countries, the article said. 500 people had been infected and 17 had died. Worldwide.
This morning on the Johns Hopkins Dashboard the numbers are: Number infected (“Global Cases”): 98,451,231. Global deaths: 2,113,938. In one year. Last January it was 17.
It’s not just the number of deaths, but the rate of increase which is stunning. In the United States it took 58 days to go from 200K to 250K. 25 days: 250K to 300 K. 20 days 300 K to 350 K. And only 16 days to go from 350,000 to 400,000. Is is any wonder that we hear predictions that we may be at 500,000 deaths in March? Today the news is all about the vaccines. Because it is the vaccines that will slow down the spread, slow down the emergence of new strains, slow down the long-term effects, hospitalizations, and deaths. It is the vaccines which will bring us together again.
The news media may talk a lot about vaccines, but they may not be the best place to get the information you actually need. In the attempt to cover every aspect of every vaccine, we see articles about long lines, low supplies, allergic reactions, timing between shots, vaccination sites and every other angle the journalists can think of. It’s overwhelming in the aggregate, but just remember you only need to find one location and get one (or two) shots. The best place to start is with your state or county department of public health. Most states, like California, began vaccinations followed CDC guidelines and started with health care workers and long term care residents. These groups could get vaccinations at their place of work or their live-in residence Now that we are moving to vaccinations for people over 65, where to get the vaccine becomes an issue.
I looked at the Orange County department of public health website and sent a message to my primary doctor through the patient portal and found information in local new sources. I didn’t need to look in all those places, because they all direct you to one web site: Othena at https://www.othena.com/ . There is also an Othena app you can put on your phone. When the site first went up over a week ago it was slow or unavailable because of high volumes, but by last Friday it was working smoothly.
The questions are simple. Do you live in Orange County? Are you over 65? Whether you answer yes or no to this one, you can still register. The difference is, if you answer over 65 it says you are eligible and they will let you know when you can get an appointment. They also sent me an email saying the same thing. If you answer No to Over 65?, you still fill in your information and they will tell you that you are not eligible yet, but they will let you know.
So I’m waiting. But I’m not in a hurry. First, for convenience, I am hoping to get my vaccination at a nearby pharmacy rather than at a mass vaccination clinic like Disneyland. I get my flu shots at Walgreens and it’s so simple. Secondly, Johnson and Johnson is coming up soon with a vaccine that only requires one shot. Again, simply a matter of convenience.
Walgreen’s is already giving vaccinations around the country, so that looks possible. In addition, the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response (link below) specifies on p. 42 that making vaccinations available at retail locations, grocers, and pharmacies is a national priority, which suits me perfectly. I think I can avoid driving far or waiting for 5 hours in my car in a vast parking lot somewhere.
As for Johnson & Johnson, their vaccine may be ready in April according to several news sources. Naturally, on their website, they don’t commit to a date, but they do say that the Phase 3 single-dose trial is going well with 45,000 adults enrolled. They are checking for immunity both 14 days and 28 days after the shot. They are also recruiting for a separate second trial called Ensemble 2 which will determine whether two vaccinations spaced two months apart would give stronger or more durable protection. Of course, we will have to wait longer for the results of that trial.
In the meantime, I’m keeping up with the news and staying positive. I can wait a month or two for the vaccine if necessary, but if they offer me an appointment sooner I will definitely take it. I’m counting on celebrating my birthday this August with the whole family!
By the way, the stock market had nothing to fear after all. It rose to new heights in 2020. Who’d have thought?
Today’s Notable Headlines
“You Can Now Get Your COVID Vaccine at Walmart in These 10 States,” YahooLife, Jan. 22, 2021. https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/now-covid-vaccine-walmart-10-204530469.html
“How to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties,” KTLA5, Jan. 22, 2021. https://ktla.com/news/coronavirus/how-to-sign-up-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-in-los-angeles-orange-riverside-san-bernardino-and-ventura-counties/#OrangeCounty
“Johnson & Johnson plans to have 100 million vaccines for Americans by spring, board member says,” AOL, Jan. 22, 2021. https://www.aol.com/johnson-johnson-aims-produce-vaccines-153217652.html
California Department of Public Health, COVID-19. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/VaccineDoses.aspx
“COVID-19 Update: Your Latest Questions About Johnson & Johnson’s Investigational Vaccine Candidate Answered,” Johnson & Johnson, Accessed Jan. 23, 2021. https://www.jnj.com/innovation/questions-about-johnson-johnson-investigational-covid-19-vaccine
National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, January 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf
Why am I doing this?
The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. I intend to journal the pandemic experience from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, as a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an estraordinary world crisis.
You are on History’s Edge.