Wellness Wednesday: How to Survive the Vaccine Hunger Games

Weeks after being buoyed by the encouraging news that remarkably effective coronavirus vaccines had been approved, millions of Americans find ourselves in an exhausting battle to get the vaccine into our arms. We are struggling against often contradictory communication, the lack of supply, and radically uneven access.

Trying to get vaccine is like being in an all too real version of The Hunger Games, a sci-fi story set a dystopian future in which teams of young people vie to survive in a televised fight to the death. Just replace vibrant youth with the frail elderly.

To win, Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen must count on partnership, collaboration, and strength. Here’s how these strategies can help us succeed in the vaccination process and get a needle in our arm.

partnership

My husband and I almost lost each other in 2019 when I became very ill while on vacation in Amsterdam. We don’t let a day go by without giving thanks for being together. We know how lucky we are.

We fare better with a partner. Batman had Robin. Roy Rogers had Trigger. In The Hunger Games, Katniss is paired with the kind and loyal Peeta, who also becomes her love interest.

Rachel Wegner’s recent article for the Nashville Tennessean featured newlyweds Florence (age 89) and Rudy (age 86) Saperstein, who married mid-pandemic and were recently vaccinated together. Being together during the social isolation imposed by the coronavirus has bolstered their spirits and kept hope alive.

Life with Florence is good, so I want to keep living

Rudy Saperstein

Not everyone is lucky enough to have an other to love. Reporter Wegner spoke with an infectious disease expert in her reporting, Dr. William Schaffer, Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Health Policy and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Schaffer confirmed that the psychological impact of COVID-19 on the elderly has been a top concern.

There’s been a sense of removal, loneliness and even depression because their social interactions have been so limited.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Collaboration

Whether we have a partner or not, it’s collaboration with others that gets the job done. Katniss and Peeta risk working with their competitors to achieve success. In the coronavirus hunger games, while we’re competing with each other to get that needle in our arm, we’re also helping each other get there.

This morning’s edition of The Palm Beach Post included an essay by Jupiter resident Leanna Landsmann entitled “Trying to get a vaccine in Florida ‘Hunger Games’.” About collaboration, Landsmann says:

Friendships now trade in links, tips, and phone numbers. Most don’t pan out, but they enliven the day.

Leanna Landsmann, The Palm Beach Post

As I was finishing this essay, an example of this collaboration came flying in on my iPhone messages. My friend Al Pessin — yes, the author of thriller Sandblast and soon-to-be-released sequel Blowback — wrote to share a trick and a link. Jackson Health is using Twitter to advise when their website will go live with vaccination appointments. If you’re not yet on Twitter, what better time to start?

strength

Hunger Games’ Katniss is an archery whiz and all around athlete. I made it out of the ICU alive because I was very fit going in, but, even having that advantage, I had lost so much muscle in those six weeks that I was unable to move unassisted. It took me a year to fully recover, and I do not ever lose sight of the fact that, one day, something will want to take me down again. When it does, I aim to be as strong as possible.

One year ago this week, we added another soul to our home, our rescue black Lab, Kumba. He was terribly anemic and worn to within an inch of his life when he was flown in from a shelter in Puerto Rico by the Labrador Retriever Recovery of Florida. Kumba and I became part of each other’s recovery journeys over the past twelve months in daily morning walks. Have a look at this transformation, and know that, you too, can succeed in being stronger, a day at a time. Just watch out for unseen corners!

Wishing you love, partnerships, collaboration, and strength in meeting this challenging time!

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