The pecking order for priority in receiving the new coronavirus vaccine began with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin.
I never expected to cut the line and get ahead of them, but thanks to my advanced age – I’m over 60 and considered to at high risk – I was among the first average citizens eligible. I got the first dose of my vaccine this morning. I had already decided I was going to get this over with as fast as I could.
I understand why people are worried about the vaccine. I was too. The medical technology behind it is relatively new. The development timetable was rushed. Can we trust the science? Can we trust the politicians urging us to get vaccinated?
These are fair questions. I asked them too. Here’s where my training as a journalist is so valuable. I was always taught to conduct my own independent research and come to my own conclusions, rather than taking someone else’s word for it. So I read up on the science. I also read what the detractors had to say. I even read through the conspiracy theories.
Most importantly, I consulted my family doctor and one specialist who knows our family medical history. They both strongly recommended it. And in recent days, I’ve also paid heed to the long and growing list of rebbeim who are advocating for the vaccine. So I felt confident that I touched all my bases.
If I may, I’m going to share a bit of my personal medical background. As a little boy, growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the only vaccines we had were for smallpox and polio. I contracted virtually every childhood disease from ages 6-8. I missed more than 150 days of school from first to third grade.
I watched my son grow up in an era where we have vaccines for almost everything. He didn’t have to suffer like I did and neither do his children. I thank Hashem for that. Again, I understand everyone has their own experience and opinions. I’m just sharing mine.
I’m also not into bashing Big Pharma. I spent 13 years of my career as a stockbroker and money manager. Pharmaceutical companies were always a mainstay of my clients’ portfolios. Yes, drug prices should be lower and I applaud government efforts to pressure them to keep prices affordable. Yet I learned that developing a new drug or vaccine is a risky, high-stakes business. It can take many failures and billions of dollars lost until a pharmaceutical company hits the jackpot on one. When they do, I’m enough of a capitalist to think they deserve to make a healthy profit. Again, I understand everyone has their own experience and opinions. I’m just sharing mine.
My turn for the vaccine arrived this morning at 9:10 AM at the Meuchedet on Haturim Street in the center of Jerusalem. There’s exactly one legal parking spot next to building and it was vacant. Thank you again, Hashem. It’s a good thing I got there early, too. A line had formed and only five people were being admitted at a time. Finally, a guard came by and took my temperature. It couldn’t have been too high after waiting out in the cold for ten minutes. Once inside, I took the elevator to the 5th floor lobby where they verified my appointment.
The room where they administer the vaccinations resembled a voting precinct. Maybe it’s because elections are on my mind after another government fell the night before, but sometimes, looks are not deceiving. There were seven or eight different booths, separated by cardboard walls, for some semblance of privacy. About 20 other people were waiting for their shots, all sitting socially-distanced, in plastic, orange-colored chairs. I noticed a large freezer in one corner of the room with a temperature gauge set to -56. The vaccine loses effectiveness unless it’s kept at arctic temperatures.
The nurses inside the booths were hustling. The background noise you’re about to hear is not the sound of children unwrapping candy. It’s the sound of nurses removing syringes and needles from plastic wrappers. Finally, I was directed to one of the booths. My nurse introduced herself as Rena. To try and break the tension – mine, that is – we chatted a bit.
I rolled up my sleeve, but now it was Rena’s turn to ask questions.
Without further ado, Rena asked me to raise my left arm and fold it over my chest.
There’s nothing like Eretz Yisrael where the nurse says Amen to your brachah. Rena asked me to sit in the waiting room for 15 minutes to ensure I had no adverse reaction and to make an appointment for the booster vaccine in three weeks. While I was waiting, I opened up my Meuchedet App and saw that an appointment had already been booked for me in three weeks.
The miracles of modern science and sophisticated, modern technology all rolled into one.
Several hours have now passed since the vaccine. Baruch Hashem, I feel perfectly fine.
I don’t get the impression that Bill Gates is tracking me either. When I arrived home, my son jokingly put his phone next to my arm and said, you’re still on 4G not 5G. I’ll check again in another three weeks after my second shot.
If the truth must be known, I was never convinced that I’m so important that Bill Gates, or any combination of global, conspiratorial agencies are interested in me and my whereabouts.
Having said that, I do have one word for Mr. Gates. If you’re really concerned about my health and welfare, please transfer some of shares of Microsoft into my account.
My portfolio could use a booster shot too.
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