The Vaccine Games

Who knew, in the spring of 2020, that the battle to find toilet paper was just training for getting a Covid vaccine? Who knew that our lives would begin to ressemble the Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies as we scrambled to get a vaccine appointment? Who could have imagined that we would even have a vaccine, or that, as we competed for available appointments, we would compare vaccine brands like we compare cell phones?

When vaccines opened up for school employees, my husband immediately received a link via his employer. Our demographic group opened on Friday, and Saturday he had an email. He clicked the link and —boom!— he made an appointment for the following week. Score one for him.

The link was unique to him and he could not share it with me. I had to wait for my own link. I was optimistic that by Monday or Tuesday, I would receive my own link via my own employer.

It did not come.

I signed up on three different lists, hopeful that one of them would come through before the county where I work.


Finally, a link came to the employees at my school. But when we opened the link, all the appointments were already taken. This happened several times. We learned that our link had been leaked. Other people were taking our slots. And our shots. Points for them. We were losing.

Oh, how quickly the darkness of human hearts reveals its sinister presence. As I gnashed my teeth over the evil vaccine stealers robbing my of my vaccine, I gave nary a thought to my 88 year old mother or my 93 and 95 year old in-laws. Hey, they don’t go anywhere anyway. I have to actually teach live children, who are germ factories even on a good day.

The county I teach in eventually wised up to the breach in the link. They sent out a new link in which they came close to threatening bodily harm to anyone outside of the intended group using the link. My colleagues and I signed up for appointments. Armed with a file folder of documents proving our identities as private school teachers, we successfully received our first shot. Score for each one of us.

Meanwhile, social media announced the vaccine panic to the world. A vaccine hunter group was formed on Facebook. People were willing to drive halfway across the state to get an appointment. When Walgreens opened a drive-through vaccine near us, the NextDoor Digest was flooded with queries about why the appointment scheduler was not working. What to do???? Wait? A whole six months?

I read all the social media posts with mild interest. I had my first shot and an appointment for my second. My niece found an appointment for her grandmother, my mom, in another county. My brother took her for her first shot. I was happy. Score one for Mom.

My daughter, also an educator, announced her vaccine appointment. Score.

I asked, “Which one are you getting?”

Another daughter asked, “Why is everyone comparing vaccines?”

Because they are different, silly girl. Although, really, what does it matter? Getting a vaccine is like when I was served dinner as a kid. You get what you get. You will eat it. And you will be grateful to have it. No whining to Mom that you got served more disgusting lima beans than your brother. Or that the puddle of butter on your mashed potatoes broke.

My husband got the Pfizer. He had one symptom after his vaccine. He immediately felt weird. I asked him to define weird as different from his usual self. He was unable to articulate the difference except to say that a trip to McDonald’s for a quarter pounder with cheese cured it. Score.

A couple of my colleagues also felt weird after their shots, but they survived without going to McDonalds. My husband’s boss, though, took his advice and got two quarter pounders with cheese after his vaccine. He reported no side effects. From the quarter pounders or the vaccine.

My colleagues and I got the Moderna vaccine. Moderna has more reported side effects. Most of us had sore arms and fatigue after the first shot. My son-in-law had gotten his first Moderna shot a few days before me, so I knew to plan for a day of doing nothing. Sure enough, I spent that Saturday doing absolutely nothing. It was so effective that I did it again on Sunday, even thought I felt perfectly fine. I am very good at doing nothing. Score two points for pulling off two days of doing nothing.

My daughter will be getting the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine. She gets an extra point because she only has to get one shot. The Johnson & Johnson is rumored to have the least side effects, so it remains to be seen if she will get points for McDonald’s or a free day to do nothing.

Yesterday, my colleagues and I got our second Moderna shot. This morning, my younger colleagues reported fever, chills, aches, and the sore arm. I awoke to nothing more than a sore arm. Score one for me—being older has its perks! But as morning moves to afternoon, my temperature is rising and my head feels fuzzy and a nap is looming. Score one for me! I am young enough to have symptoms!

Mom got her first Moderna shot recently. She is old. In spite of nearly passing out from her flu shot this year, she had absolutely zero symptoms from the Covid vaccine. I am scheduled to spend the night with her after her second shot. I anticipate that she will have absolutely zero symptoms again. And she will win the entire Lord of the Covid Vaccine Game.


Because she will have gotten her vaccine and a sleepover with her daughter.

Win. Win.