Waiting For The COVID-19 Vaccine - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Jane McCallister

Jane McCallister lives in Honolulu with her family.


My grandpa was an equine veterinarian. Everyone called him Doc, just like in an old western.

His clinic was equal parts barn and hospital. The sharp, clean smells of chemicals and warm manure permeated the place. Horse tails flicked away flies next to sterile antiseptic bandages.

Each visit to his clinic was an education for me. “Never walk behind a horse,” my grandpa would say as he crouched directly behind a horse, wrapping its leg. “They can’t see you and they kick.”

Grandpa’s warning seemed a little strange to me. How could he say that from behind a horse? Over time, I saw that whenever he approached a horse, it was from the side, running his hand along the animal’s flank to its rump, all the while talking to the horse to let it know he was there.

Grandpa was a horse vet but when convenience required, he was also my personal physician.

The author’s grandfather, Doc, the veterinarian. 

I broke my arm on the trampoline at home. “How long has she had that cast?” he asked when we came for a visit one summer. The answer is lost in time, but the memory of him sawing it off in his clinic with the same saw he used on horse plasters is as fresh as the straw in his scrupulous clinic.

Grandpa regularly gave horses their shots. When he was old and bent over, his back wrecked from wrestling 2,000-pound beasts, he gave himself his human doctor-prescribed injections as well.

When the time came for my childhood vaccinations, I submitted willingly, without the typical squeamishness. I didn’t know then that people have benefited from vaccines for two centuries. I just knew that if it was good enough for my grandpa’s horses, then it was good enough for me.

For a lot of reasons, one of which is my grandpa’s example, I am ready and willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. After nine months of uncertainty and plans not made, I am ready to look forward to some things again.

But when will it be my turn?

Recently an article ran in the New York Times that included a simple calculator to estimate one’s place in line for the vaccine. All that was required was for me to enter my age (41), county of residence (Honolulu), whether or not I am a health care worker, essential worker, first responder, or teacher (none of these), and whether or not I have COVID-related health risks (no).

After filling in this simple survey, I discovered I am in line behind 268.7 million people across the United States. My estimated place is behind 1.1 million people in Hawaii. I am waiting behind 769,900 people in Honolulu.

Hawaii’s first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine — 975 doses — arrived at The Queen’s Medical Center on Dec. 14. Here, the vaccine doses are transferred into an ultra-cold freezer for storage. Courtesy: The Queen's Health Systems

Here is who is in front of me in Hawaii according to the New York Times: 65,000 health care workers, 28,000 people in nursing homes, 6,751 first responders, 356,000 people with health risks, 58,000 other kupuna, 44,000 essential workers, 30,000 teachers, 4,739 persons experiencing homelessness, 1,316 prisoners, 181,000 young adults, 299,000 children (if approved for the vaccine), 59,000 other essential workers, 290,000 individuals labeled as “others,” and then me (about halfway down in the “everybody else” category).

Talk about demoralizing. I could literally be the last person in Hawaii to be offered the vaccine.

Oh, well. I am ready and willing when it is my turn. I have avoided COVID-19 this long, and I have no intention of getting kicked by it now.

Civil Beat columnist Lee Cataluna recently wrote an entertaining piece about how good Hawaii residents are at waiting in lines.

I will do my best to live up to her expectations, because for me, this is going to take awhile.

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About the Author

Jane McCallister

Jane McCallister lives in Honolulu with her family.


Latest Comments (0)

Your patience and light heartedness towards the situation are admirable.  I support some risk prioritization in the vaccine distribution, but not at the expense of speed and efficiency.  These things just need to get administered.  A shot in the arm of a person deemed to be of lower priority is more helpful than a shot in the freezer.  Especially since more supply continues to become available.  

justsaying · 11 months ago

Another great piece, Mrs. McCallister. I now look for your writing.  I am also in the "Will I be last?" category but would love to be first in line.  The reaction of of governor and mayor to the virus has been very frustrating and is killing our economy.  Hopefully, someone can figure out a method to vaccinate at a faster rate.  You know, if the state would allow it, your grandfather could help inject humans.  Shots are shots.  He must have been a great guy!  Thanks again

TuxtlaPete · 11 months ago

Regardless of where the author, or myself and my family, are in line, the real challenge is going to be how fast the vaccine can get out in comparison to the spread of the virus in a community. Currently the State of Hawaii is on a cusp where the vaccine distribution could actually go faster than the spread. This has to be priority one focus for our government as if we do fall behind, and the virus does overtake the speed of the vaccine, we are going to be in this malaise for a good long time to come. That is why the plan is to speed the vaccine out and get herd immunity though it. Without it, whomever is in financial and social pain, its going to be a lot longer they will be feeling that pain. 

Kana_Hawaii · 11 months ago

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