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CITIZEN COLUMN: I want my shot

CITIZEN COLUMN: I want my shot

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I opened the door on New Year’s Eve and let the old year out and the new year in.

The fireworks boomed at the stroke of midnight around the neighborhood, and I wanted to cheer every time one exploded. It was exciting to know that we were leaving 2020 and its hardships behind.

The colorful rain of fire and sparkles that followed the boom of the fireworks represented a new beginning in my mind.

We had collards and black-eyed peas for lunch on New Year’s Day as a way of laying the groundwork for a healthy and prosperous new year. Then I said a prayer. I just did not want to leave anything to chance.

A year ago, at this time, we had no idea what was coming, and we desperately need the new year to show us something better.

Despite the bickering, finger pointing, he said, she said, coulda, woulda, shoulda politics of the previous year, there was a glimmer of hope as the previous year closed. A vaccine was approved by our government, shipped and inoculations began.

The logistics of the vaccine distribution went well, and the first deliveries by our military to the states were timely. Doctors, nurses, and first responders received their first vaccinations in a timely manner, and that’s when things went south.

Two weeks later, we started the new year with reports that most states had only used one-third of the doses they were shipped. Am I missing something? I thought our state and local governments had a plan. Surely, they can find some arms to put the vaccine in before another loved one dies.

Kudos to West Virginia and South Dakota. They got their doses, and they vaccinated the most. They figured out that the vaccine does no good to anyone sitting in the freezer. Many states have responded to the sluggish start and acted with a sense of urgency, and next-in-line nursing home residents began getting their shots.

My husband drove 11 hours one day just before Christmas to see his 90-year-old mom. She is in a nursing home, and my husband was allowed 30 minutes to visit her in a room with a glass divider between the two of them. There were big signs posted stating no visitors on Christmas Day. Wow. All the residents can look forward to is family on Christmas, and the pandemic cheated them out of that. I hope that I will be able to give her a hug sometime in 2021.

I will have a warm fuzzy feeling when it is reported that front-line health care workers, first responders and nursing home residents have received both of their inoculations.

Today, the elderly, 70 years old and older, can start scheduling appointments to receive the vaccine. That is as it should be. Somewhere after that, I will be in line to receive a vaccination, and I am looking forward to it.

My doctor during a year-end checkup, made the comment that many people have gained weight because of being homebound while avoiding the virus. Well, hello! All of the TV commercials are about food, and other than watching TV, we eat. With the coldest months of the year upon us, we will be staying in more, and our waistlines may suffer even more.

I believe wearing masks has saved many of us from contacting the virus. It may even play a role in reduced colds and flu this season. However, I hate wearing the things. They never match my outfit. People don’t recognize me, and I don’t recognize them. Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought it acceptable to walk into a convenience store or a bank wearing a mask. The sooner we get our vaccinations, the sooner we can be done with them.

Here it is in a nutshell. After last year, having a better year is almost guaranteed, as we hit rock bottom in 2020. I believe 2021 will be the year we shed our masks, the year we can start hugging our loved ones again, the year we get out more and eat less, and our clothes will begin to fit better. We will get our vaccinations, and the world will be a better place.

Like almost everyone else, I want my shot as soon as it is my turn.

Dr. Darlene Atkinson-Moran grew up in Olanta. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She is retired from the education profession and now resides in Florence with her husband, Michael. Contact her at citizencolumnist@florencenews.com.

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Over the course of the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unimaginable human suffering, with more than 90 million documented worldwide infections leading to almost 1.95 million deaths. Within South Carolina alone, over 5,300 deaths have been attributed to COVID infections.

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