Getting used to my place in line for the COVID-19 vaccination
I recently found out that 118.5 million Americans are standing before me to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
At first I was surprised to discover that I was so far behind. After all, I turned 65 this year.
That means I can officially play the "old card" - something I despised for years, but now suddenly looked at from a deeper, more awesome, and enlightened perspective.
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When I entered my information into the New York Times “Find Your Place in the Vaccine Line” calculator, I was certain that I would be treated like a biker at a Steppenwolf concert.
(How's that for an AARP-dated reference?)
However, it turns out that reaching the official milestone of being considered old is not enough to get you on the velvet rope of vaccination.
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That's because after asking my age, there were other factors to consider. For example, the calculator gave me the ability to tell if I was an "essential worker".
This is one of those questions that can affect a person's self-esteem. I've long believed that one of the ways you can tell if a Florida business is essential is how busy it is the day before a hurricane.
This pandemic has led me to take a more nuanced perspective. Everyone likes to think that they are making a difference in this world. And so the whole "essential" question is burdened with an unspoken hostility.
And less than ironic logic.
How important am I exactly?
Where I live, Palm Beach County officials viewed florists as indispensable workers last March. So why not newspaper columnists? We both produce things that are thrown in the trash within a few days.
I wish the "essential work" topic was a text question that respondents can do their best case on. I could easily have extruded 750 words on how sitting in my pajamas in my breakfast nook typing splits is really one of the key elements to turning this great old world on its axis.
But it was a simple "yes" or "no" answer. And caught up in that scarce duality, I chose honesty and admitted that unfortunately my "work" wasn't essential ... and judging from some of the emails I get from readers, not even everything I do wanted to. The survey also gave me the opportunity to refer to myself as a “first responder”. I had to be honest one more time. Newspaper columnists usually mop up after the Beat reporters. We are notorious second, third and fourth helpers.
Draw the vaccine
I also did pretty badly on the health risk issue. Playing with the numbers, I realized that if I had a binge eating and put on a good 30 pounds I would jump from the 118.5 millionth American in line for the vaccine to the 23 millionth American. (A jump that would no doubt leave me breathless.)
But it turns out that even though I got fat, I didn't get fat enough.
And I'm not in a nursing home either, which really gets you back on track in Florida, which has 691 licensed nursing facilities.
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According to the Times calculator, there are about 8.1 million Floridians standing in front of me for the vaccine. In Palm Beach County alone, 559,200 people - more than a third of the county's population - live before me.
At first I thought this was bad news for me.
But after looking through the numbers, I was surprised that unnecessary, mostly healthy 65-year-olds like me are not further down the line.
Help people help themselves
According to the Times calculator, I am shot in front of 411,000 teachers, 539,000 key workers, and 2.4 million young adults.
That doesn't seem right. If you work in a post office or middle school and come into contact with hundreds of people every day, you belong in my breakfast nook in front of me and my pajamas.
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Again, these 2.4 million young adults are the ones who go crazy and swap spit at bars and forbidden college parties. They are the ones most likely to ignore quarantines, social distancing, and border collecting.
That's because they're pretty sure COVID-19 is something they could survive.
I know. It's stupid and selfish. But if they're super spreaders, it's best to treat them sooner rather than later. They need to be closer to the front of the vaccination line. Not for them, but for us.
Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino
I wouldn't complain if they were put in front of me because if you tell me to stay home, I will stay home. You never have to tell me again. The only thing I overspread these days is cream cheese.
I promise to patiently wait to be vaccinated whenever it is. It would be nice if someone could give me a heads up when I'm about a million people from the front.
That gives me enough time to finish what I watch on Netflix, take a shower, and find out what happened to all of my pants.
Frank Cerabino is a columnist at The Palm Beach Post, where this column originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter: @FranklyFlorida
You can read various opinions from our Board of Contributors and other authors on the Opinion home page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily opinion newsletter. To reply to a column, send a comment to email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in the Palm Beach Post: The vaccine line makes me feel like one in (118) million
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