The Cassia Life

Long Road to Immunity

Yes, long, and sometimes rough and hard to follow. The toughest question has been, “Who’s next?” (to get vaccinated against Covid-19). And just as important, “Who says who’s next?”

Mix in unrelated major happenings–a highly visible trial in progress, political shenanigans, the start of daylight savings time, Lent and Easter, plus spring with all its trimmings. So much traffic on the long road.

As we took a taxi to and from dinner out on Sunday afternoon in a nice cafe, our first in nearly a year, the prevailing question was, “Had your shots yet?”  One cabbie said yes, the other no, our waitress no. My dinner partner and my own answers were yes. Both received our second shots three weeks earlier, on February 10. Early, thanks to our advanced ages and to assisted living at Augustana Apartments where we live.

On the road again, our destination being immunity by way of vaccination. Almost never before have I seen seniors rank so high on an important priority list, and properly so. Nearly 90% of Minnesota’s Covid-19 deaths have been people 65 or older.

Also, the road reached into several little-known areas. If you are truly old, like in your 90s, the vaccination system came seeking you, almost with loaded syringe in hand. Also, health care insurers had extra doses and sometimes telephoned older clients and perhaps a few middle aged or even young. Some insurers reached out a few hundred miles to pull in city dwellers from afar. 

I let my metro daily newspapers stack up–The Minneapolis StarTribune, beginning February 19, to keep track of a record pace of vaccinations. Here is a brief collection of informative big-type headlines from those newspapers:

  • State launches vaccine signup tool (Feb. 19 issue)
  • New vaccine timetable lays out who’s next (Feb. 26)   
  • Vaccine list omits some at high risk (Feb. 27)
  • Vaccines give seniors friends, activities back (Feb. 28)
  • Next step: Vaccine for at-risk patients (March 2)
  • State vaccine priority groups grow (March 3)
  • First doses of J&J vaccine arrive (March 4)
  • Family caregivers turned away for shots (March 5)
  • Minnesota ahead on senior vaccine goal (March 9)
  • Biden vows all adults vaccine eligible by May 1 (March 12)
  • Mixed virus signals bring hope, caution (March 14)
  • Some are getting picky about vaccines (March 15)

A few seniors related their personal efforts to achieve Covid-19 immunity by way of vaccination. “They probably had more people to receive the shots than vaccine,” Jim observed. “I got drawn but my wife didn’t, so she got her first shot later. By now (mid-March) we both have had both shots.” 

Rudi Anders, 74, a resident of southeast Minneapolis, decided early on not to chase after options, but feels that his insurer, Health Partners, and a personal friend and Allina employee came through with helpful information. Rudi and his wife got first shots February 26 with their second to follow approximately that day in March.

Kudos to Mark Lucas and his wife JoAnn who became volunteer “vaccination hunters” and acquired shots for themselves as well as for 10 others, so far, mostly disabled persons. “‘It’s not a game and we make no charge,” explained Mark, giving his wife credit for doing most of the hunter work and placement.

Dan Quillin of West St. Paul, a retired state of Minnesota employee 30-plus years, combined an opportunity to receive vaccination in southwestern Minnesota and his ongoing active interest in his own family genealogy. His first trip combined shot number one at Marshall and a visit to the grave of his Great Grandfather Thomas Quillin at Avoca, Minnesota.

Dan’s Great Great Grandfather Phillip Quillin immigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1848 during the potato famine and is buried at Kimball, South Dakota. Dan will visit that grave, he said, on some later trip.

Paul McHugh, 68, and his wife Barbara of St. Anthony Village received calls from Hennepin Health Care, urging them to come in for shots. “We were pursued vigorously and did get vaccinated early,” said Paul.

Summing up, Jim Unglaube reflects, “With the shots now, we do feel some new security. We’ve enjoyed going out to eat a couple of times. And our travel plans for summer are looking possible.”

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