Vaccination Privilege

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Yesterday I registered through my county’s vaccination coordination platform. I’m not eligible to be vaccinated yet. At age 61 I’m still too young. But I was feeling helpless and frustrated as, one by one, my older friends and acquaintances started texting about the joys of getting their vaccination appointment, or posting photos on Facebook and Instagram to celebrate that first blessed shot. Yes, I am happy for them. But it’s hard not to feel a bit jealous, too.

So I went to the platform and registered. It took less than three minutes to provide some basic contact information and answer a few questions. It took less than a minute to receive confirmation that I wasn’t yet eligible, but would be notified about making a vaccination appointment as soon as I was. I felt much better being able to do at least that.

But then I realized that my ease in navigating this process was made possible in large part due to my white, upper class privilege. My education draws me to newspapers and official government websites that provide information about the availability of the county platform and how to use it, instead of relying on word of mouth. My wealth provides me with a computer (and a smart phone, and a tablet…). I have reliable, available internet access in my own home, and I have used technology for so long it does not intimidate me one bit. As a U.S. citizen I don’t fear sharing personal information with the government–even though the county platform does not ask for citizenship or immigration status.

When it is time for me to make an appointment, technology and internet access will help me make one. And when I finally get that appointment, I will be able to drive the car I own to wherever I need to go for my vaccine. I will not worry about whether I have enough money to put fuel in it, enough to keep it running in a super-vaccination site parking lot so I can stay warm while I wait. I won’t have to take time off from work to get vaccinated, but even if I did I wouldn’t need to worry about it. Throughout my career I received plenty of leave time to access health care without losing any pay.

These significant blessings are not readily available to everyone who needs and deserves a vaccine just as much as I do. So while I’m happy to be registered, I also feel a little bit ashamed at how relatively easy getting that shot in my arm will be for me. And I also feel mad. Because the racial and social inequities pre-baked into this whole COVID vaccination process are staring back from the screens of our smart phones and computers. Am I the only one who sees them?