Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Scoring the Dose


We got our first COVID vaccinations the usual way. There was a rumor that a kilo of Pfizer had landed on the east side and we went to meet some guy behind a warehouse, and he flashed open his trench coat, studded with open appointment slots. I was dubious, and when I feigned disinterest, he said "All right, sweetheart, you got me--but if you want the real deal, go to the dumpster behind the CVC and ask for Vinnie."

Vinnie's collection of appointment slots was obviously fake, just magic marker on pieces of masking tape, and we weren't falling for it, but he got his cousin on the phone and I will be damned but he totally had slots, slots for days. He only operated between midnight and 2am, but if you could stay up that late, he had it all: Walgreen's, Rite-Aid, and a jackpot at the Convention Center. We signed up right away and told all our friends, and they all got appointments too, until the third day when the velvet rope went up, and the latecomers were sent back out to work the alleyways.

It ain't easy. One couple we know found a scalper on the corner of Fifth and Hallelujah and got all signed up, and when they got to the vaccination site it turned out to be a pitch for time-shares in Florida, plus the cookies were stale.

So screw them, right? We got ours, and that's what matters. They had a slick operation there at the Convention Center. They're running six thousand people a day through there, moving them through the cordoned aisles as smooth as corpuscles in the bloodstream. We never stopped moving. There were mazes of aisles, and ushers to insert us into them, and at the end everybody got the cheese. We sat for fifteen minutes so someone could scoop us up if we keeled over, and then we were out of there.

It was an easy shot. Four hours later I got a nasty case of shoulder flu. No other side-effects, but I was dragging knuckles on one side like Quasimodo and had to lift my right arm with my left arm just to put it on my lap. This, I am assured, is a good sign.

It means my body is putting up some kind of fight and should be commended at the earliest opportunity. My body, in theory, has gobs of white blood cells whose chief occupation is defense and homeland security. Some of them find invading germs and eat them. They spit out the icky bits, called antigens, and then others produce antibodies to attack the antigens. It takes a while to stock the armory but with any luck your body will be able to get ahead of the germ before you drop dead.

Vaccines are designed to rev up the whole system. They simulate an invasion and muster your white cells to get off their duffs. Some are "live attenuated" vaccines; they use a disabled germ, like sending in an invading army of quadriplegic soldiers with spears. Inactivated vaccines, such as our new friend the COVID vaccine, are armed with Nerf spears and Whiffle-cannons. You need a booster a few weeks later because your body doesn't take it as seriously at first, but by the time the second surge begins, it's plenty annoyed by all the Nerfing and Whiffling and it's had a chance to stock up on antibodies and complain to the condominium association abut kids these days.

The other thing your body does after encountering a vaccine is it assigns some of the white blood cells to be Memory Cells. They're responsible for neighborhood watch patrols and they get on the two-way if they spot any of the germs they've got antibodies for.

This is the part that worries me. If I develop any memory cells, they're just going to wander all over the place. They'll bunch up around the kneecap and say "Now what is it I came in here for?" and then they'll have to make another trip around to remember. And if they do bump into any germs, they're going to waste time trying to trick the germs into telling them their names again. "We've got a situation down here in the trachea," they'll call out. "It's that old whatchamacallit virus, the one that looks like an orange with the cloves stuck in it? No? The one that was married to that other one that used to play the neighbor on the Dick Van Dyke Show. Yeah, well, shit, I don't know. Just send over the whole kit when you get a chance, I guess."

This is why old people are in more trouble.

48 comments:

  1. I needed this, still smilingšŸ‘

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  2. This is the best explanation of how vaccines work that I have ever read. No, really. I understand complex things better when an analogy is used to explain it. When Paul feels the need to explain something about my automobile, I ask him things like, "what would that part be if it were an organ in a human?" My eyes tend to glaze over when things get too technical, so I need to compare it to things that I DO understand.

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    1. I had a bunch in there about T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes and then I remembered I'm not a science teacher and you're not all pre-med.

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  3. Vinnie's looking mighty sharp with his beard and hair and hat and trenchcoat. Oh, and that smile!

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  4. I'm laughing as I write this. Having had my first vaccine 4 wks. ago and scheduled sometime this week for my second....I thought your blog today was hilarious. Loved it so much. Thanks for kicking off my day!

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  5. I bet your immune system will remember fine when you get your 2nd dose, and let the rest of your body all about it. Don't plan on using your arm, or doing anything...my side effects didn't show up for 26 hours after, but I'm older than you by a bit.

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    1. Yeah, I'm actually looking forward to it with interest. It's not like there's anything I need to do so badly that I can't give it a rest for a few days. And this stuff fascinates me.

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  6. Our local distributor was Sven and Ole's Fish Market and Pharmacy, but the vaccine is given at the Curling Club since they are not curling this winter. I get my second shot tomorrow. Woohoo!

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  7. A great Vaccine 101 tutorial. My mass vax site in San Luis Obispo was run the same way. A smoothly run feat of social engineering. Disappointed my arm didn’t hurt but maybe all the immune response got wore out with the flu, pneumonia, and shingrix triple whammy in the Fall. Here’s hoping we all get our jabs soon.

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    1. I anticipate my arm actually falling off for the second dose.

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  8. I'm laughing AND crying, apparently 60 years and white hair counts for nothing except a 10% discount at Arby's. Why did I quit smoking 15 years ago, why? Anyway Murr, very glad you got yours, and thanks for the fun read--Vinnie the Scalper had me cackling but the poor couple who got suckered into that timeshare sell almost made me spit out my coffee! Well... at least I got my Shingrix shots a few months back!

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    1. I got the earlier shingles vaccine in my mid-fifties--part of a double-blind study, and they told me I'd gotten the real thing when it was all concluded.

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    2. I had Zostavax shots in 2007 & 2017 (just before Shingrix was released). I got two Shingrix shots in early 2020. I had shingles, once in the mid 1980s. That was enough to convince me.

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    3. You mean you can get it more than once? Gah

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  9. Hey Miz Murr: I’ve had both my shots with what are considered mild effects after both. Those are spells of fatigue strong enough to ring down the curtains and one day of fever and aches. I had Moderna. I have acquaintances from both vaccine camps who were dropped in their tracks, one who thought he needed to go to the hospital and a few with ongoing symptoms. But we’re all still alive and that’s what matters. Best wishes and thanks for the humor as always!

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    1. Wow, I don't think anyone I've talked to has had anything that bad. Congratulations though. You'd have been way too young in this state, but we're running behind.

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  10. I'm five weeks out from my second shot. The odd thing is that my life hasn't changed much, but that's just due to my attitude. I can't get over the idea that every person, every place, poses a threat. I guess I'll have to have a gradual re-entry into life, masked of course, and hope that at some point, things feel like the new normal. Congratulations on your shot-it does feel a bit like winning the lottery to get through the online puzzle to get an appointment.

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    1. I don't do all that much in the real world, but I look forward to inviting people IN the house for a beer or for dinner, and I will mask up and buy my own groceries rather than ordering them for pickup.

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  11. I’m volunteering at a clinic to try to speed things up. The more get vaccinated the safer we’ll be. Seems like we should have had a better plan in place with so much anticipation.

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    1. Seems like vaccine availability is the holdup?

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  12. That was either 1) the best description I've ever read of how the immune system fights off an infection with the assistance of a vaccine, or 2) the best description I've ever read of how an autoimmune disease develops. Not sure which. Either way, it was the best.

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  13. Well that’s peachy because that means that in a month or so I’ll be able to meet you face to face! Got my second on Feb 25. Under the Lincoln Memorial before heading west

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  14. Thanks for the laugh, Murr, this is one topic that needed your brand of brilliant satire. I particularly appreciate the concept of 'memory cells.' You have targeting what is mysterious about how people's bodies deal with vaccines. Ouch! I hope this works. Right on target!

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    1. A lot of the older people I know have had very few side-effects. Things just don't work quite as well. Our immune systems just think "Ehh...I'm retired. I'll get to it tomorrow."

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  15. I think the assigned memory cells would have their own agenda and not have to rely on any randomly wandering cells from your own memory.

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  16. Congratulations! Still waiting over here because Utah is controlled by a bunch of old mormon dudes who are afraid of everything that is not themselves.
    We have to balance this with the evangelical message that they carry. I mean, if we are all dead, who can they convert?

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    1. As I remember, Mormons have been happy to convert the dead. The dead don't even object to it, though their relatives sometimes do.

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    2. Stig Ward got to it first. That is the whole reason the Mormons lead the world in genealogy research! Why, I do believe I might have written an old blog post about it...

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    3. Yep, they Convert the Dead... The Man is LDS {not in good standing} and I swore if any of his LDS Relatives Convert my Corpse I'm Haunting them all... and since they're all convinced he Married a Gypsy Witch, I think they'll refrain. *winks*

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  17. "If I develop any memory cells, they're just going to wander all over the place. They'll bunch up around the kneecap and say "Now what is it I came in here for?"

    LOLOL

    Got my 2nd shot yesterday.Feeling top of the world.

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  18. So damn funny, my friends are gonna hear about this one. Thanks, Murr! I’m choking with laughter.

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    1. Looking forward to Shoulder Dropsy with the next one.

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  20. I think you need to come out of retirement to be a Public Health Educator -- such a brilliant explanation of how all this stuff works! FYI, the day after my 2nd shot, I simply took 2 big naps during the day. That way if I was feeling crummy (or worse yet, feeling like a cranky-bitch)I would avoid it.....

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    1. It's always good to sleep off a crankypants episode.

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  21. Got my 1st Jab and will get the 2nd one on the 26th. I played The Old Lady Card and bypassed the Online System and just called them, Old School Style, pretending I couldn't possibly figure out the Technology all by myself. Bless her, said the Young Stufmuffin on the other end of the Phone, who treated me like his Beloved nearly Senile Gramma and snagged me a slot even as they were quickly disappearing like Scotch Mist. Within 2 Hours of dropping the Age Requirement, the Metro Phoenix Area was completely out of Appointments for the rest of the Month... but, I got mine while there was still some left! And yeah, surprisingly they are a well oiled machine in Vaccinating us all by the Thousands, tho' they all looked to be about 12 and getting College Credit for participation... tho' to be Fair, the 'Event' was on a University Campus in Phoenix and it was a handy way, many said, to get theirs long before their Age's Tier qualified. *LMAO, Smart Kiddos*

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  22. This was fantastic - funny and informative! It's such a relief to be over all the political commentaries in blogs. Refreshing, evn though there's still plenty to talk about, just a different vein as a source. Kim in PA

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