Vax stage

LOOKING ASKANCE - Atty. Joseph Gonzales - The Freeman

The past week has seen many friends, here and abroad, announcing with glee they have been vaccinated. As well, while cooped up in lockdown quarters, various emotions have come and gone within my body, a body that has suffered more than a year of government ineptitude.

Like grief, vaccine reactions apparently go through many stages. Having lived through every excruciating second of these stages, I’m going to take liberties and go ahead with isolating them.

First, there was Joy. Doctors, dentists, and nurses gleefully photographed band-aids and cotton swabs on their biceps, some muscular enough to be diversionary. Right, not the biceps, but the jabs.

At long last, the vaccines were being administered to the right people, and it’s such a relief to think our medical frontliners will soon be safe from the virus. Less at risk, and they would have better chances at saving our collapsed medical system and caring for those needing medical attention. With doctors and nurses already protected, it might already be time to think about getting appointments for various ailments and complaints.

I was genuinely happy for all of the health sector friends showing off their vaccination cards and plasters, and sharing the side effects they experienced (or lack of them). Finally, here was progress!

After Joy, however, came Envy. I saw more and more people lining up and getting their first shots, and bad thoughts began bubbling in. Primarily, it was “what about me?” When will my city call me for my shot? How fast will they get through the seniors? In Pasig, Manila and Quezon City, they’re done with seniors. Why are those cities so efficient, and mine so slow? What system did they employ? Are people using connections and influence to get ahead of the line? (Silly me, that already happened with so many mayors).

Why the seniors, anyway? Indonesia implemented a very different strategy; it targeted the young and mobile workforce first, as these were the ones more liable to get infected. So why didn’t we follow Indonesia? Why couldn’t our seniors go last? (Envy isn’t a very loving emotion).

Hot after the heels of Envy, came Anxiety. All those anxious thoughts. Those teeth-clenching, tic-inducing fears. Like: When will those with co-morbidities be called in? And what about the next batch? Will they ever get to my category? Does the city know what it’s doing? Why NCR first? Why not all the cities, all at the same time? What if they run out of vaccines and no new ones are imported? Does this mean another wait of another year? Good grief!

These questions naturally bring anger. Anger at the system. Anger at government. Anger at everyone who ever made it out of the country and successfully wangle Pfizer shots in New York or J&J shots in Singapore. Anger at the stupid virus.

Hot, furious Anger at everything. Boiling over and scalding everything in sight, until nothing is left. Except the final emotion. Apathy.

We’re all going to die anyway. Whether from the virus, or from another disease we can’t get treatment for because our hospitals are full, or from neglect in an over-taxed hospital, or from incompetent government officials who simply don’t know what the hell they’re doing (or don’t care.). What then is the point of stressing? Let’s chill, and wait for death to take us in her soothing embrace. There lies the sad tale of a Filipino citizen. Which stage are you at?

(And then a text will come in and announce that my appointment is at 3 p.m. the next day. And with it comes Joy.)


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