My three beautiful babies are getting their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine today. The range of emotions I am feeling is so complicated.
Relief, gratitude, excitement, exhaustion, and pure joy are the obvious ones.
There’s also a lot of anger.
In this age where we preach and attempt to practice equity, the vaccine rollout for our children has not been equitable.
Where I live in central New York, parents got robo calls at 9:40 in the morning on November 4th stating we’d receive an email at 10:00 am that would provide a link to register your children for their shots on November 5th and 6th.
Every single slot filled up by 10:20am.
Parents of children with disabilities and complex medical needs got no warning. We did not get the chance to sign up first, even though our families suffered far more than others over the past 21 months; Even though many of us had advocated with specialists, pediatricians, case workers, legislators, and health departments; Even though we were assured our children were absolutely being considered. They were NOT. We got in line with everyone else.
The same goes for essential workers who have carried the burden of keeping this world running while in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Teachers, store clerks, trash collectors, baristas, restaurant workers, retailers, and so many others put themselves at risk so we could continue shopping, dining, and living a somewhat normal existence while in crisis. Most essential workers are not able or allowed drop everything to get online and sign up for a clinic. Yet their families were not considered in this roll out. They got in line with everyone else.
The first in line were those privileged enough have their phone or computer with them, a job that allowed them to drop everything without any notice, and fast enough internet access to actually sign up.
When all the slots were filled in my county after 20 minutes, the response was, “don’t worry, there will be more next week.”
That may sound like no big deal to those who said it. But one more week feels like an eternity for families who know they are putting their child’s life at risk every single day they send them to school or every time they come home after being exposed to the public all day.
We’ve known for months the vaccine for 5-11 year olds was coming this fall. We’ve known for weeks it would be approved and available on or right after Halloween. Many pediatricians had already identified which children needed this vaccine the most. Vaccine access could and should be equitable. I know plenty of advocates who would gladly volunteer their time to ensure this. There are so many ways this could and should have been done differently.
It’s not just anger I’m feeling. It’s deep sadness. This pandemic has not just exposed rampant ableism in our world, it’s shown that those running the show simply do not care. If they cared, they would have found a way to put at risk kids first. If they cared, adults with disabilities would have had better access to care throughout this pandemic. If Americans cared, no one would complain about wearing a mask; they’d do it because they recognize it’s not about them, it’s about keeping their fellow humans safe. Not all of us are so lucky to have a robust immune system after all.
Hopefully we’ll learn from our mistakes and selfishness. We need to do better and put more energy toward helping those who need it the most. We owe it to our essential workers. We owe it to our marginalized communities. We owe it to ALL of our beautiful children.
#ThisisOurShot #CFI #FvVaccineOutreach #familytofamily #centerforfamilyinvolvment #f2f @ecroyle