We’re failing the swine flu vaccination test

  • By Sarri Gilman
  • Monday, November 16, 2009 7:39pm
  • Life

I am washing my hands like a surgeon. Every chance I get to stand in front of a sink, I’m saying a little prayer of gratitude to the patron saint of running water, and giving myself a good little hand scrub and cleanse.

This is my only defense against H1N1. Not that this particular flu is any more of a threat to me than any other flu, but my reality is that I am a diabetic and vulnerable to colds. If I get a cold or flu it will last three times longer than for nondiabetics. So H1N1 is just another threat in the environment for me.

I thought maybe diabetics would be able to get the vaccine given how vulnerable we are. Though the vaccine is in short supply — and that’s an understatement — I thought that maybe we would be one of the priority groups.

Thankfully teachers, health care workers and kids are getting the vaccine.

My daughter sent me a notice from her college saying that the college kids with asthma and diabetes would be prioritized for the vaccine. I called my medical clinic and asked if I would be on the list for the vaccine since a college seemed to think that people with diabetes should be vaccinated.

My clinic gave me a response that I find far more alarming than H1N1.

First, they asked for my name, and the receptionist said she would review my medical file and let me know. The receptionist called me back after this audit of my medical file and said it seems that I should be getting vaccine, but she can’t say for sure because she’s not actually a nurse.

She let me know, in bureaucratic style, that she would hand my file to a nurse and have her make a determination about my status.

The nurse called back and said “if” they were keeping a list for the vaccine, I would be on it. She explained that they didn’t have any vaccine left and would be getting some in the “next few weeks.”

I asked if I would be on the list at the that point. She said, “No, we are not keeping a list.”

I asked how I would get the vaccine. She said I could call and make an appointment when they have the vaccine in and, if there is any left, I will receive it.

I asked how I would divine the information to know when to make an appointment? She said she didn’t know. I explained that if they were keeping a list of who should get the vaccine, they could just call us and let us know that it was in.

She explained that their policy was to not keep a list.

I thought about the people with very suppressed immune systems, people who are recovering from cancer, people who have respiratory illness and others.

Thank goodness this H1N1 is not life threatening for all of us. We don’t actually know for sure who it is deadly to, we just have a vague sense that the odds of it killing us is low; low enough to not be in a panic.

Something about the H1N1 shortage of vaccine is reminding me of the levies in Louisiana. This is a test of our emergency response system. Snohomish County has done an amazing job having drive-through vaccines on weekends. I applaud this organized response.

I live in Island County, and the local response has me feeling like I’m standing in New Orleans. My clinic doesn’t have a list of who should get the vaccine, and they are hoping I will divine the information from the clouds to make an appointment at just the right moment when they have the vaccine on hand.

What if this was something even more serious? How prepared are we to deal with an outbreak that is deadly? We are all dependent on this fragmented health-care system to be able to deliver in the face of a pandemic, and I’m thinking we have along way to go.

Sarri Gilman is a freelance writer living on Whidbey Island and director of Leadership Snohomish County. Her column on living with meaning and purpose runs every other Tuesday in The Herald. You can e-mail her at features@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

Everett comedian Taylor Clark performs stand-up in 2023 at The Triple Door in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mike Bryk)
Comedian Taylor Clark to film first special Friday in Everett

The skateboarding funny-man will record an hour of his stand-up at the Historic Everett Theater.

Local musician Alex Johnston, whose newest album "Daylight Fooldream" pairs with short film he made with help from his partner Mikaela Henderson, sits with his morning coffee on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, at Narrative Coffee in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Folktronica musician shoots 37-minute visual album on iPhone in Everett

Alex Johnston, 31, describes his music as ”if Coldplay and Bon Iver had a love child.”

Flowering knotweed Persicaria amplexicaulis firetail in the morning light.
Save for one infamous variety, fleece flowers are easy to fall in love with

This long-blooming, easy-to-grow perennial comes in many desirable varieties. But watch out: One is an invasive knotweed.

A view of King Street Station in Seattle, Washington from an Amtrak Cascades train to Portland, Oregon from Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Ride the rails on Amtrak Cascades from Everett to Portland

Make new friends and let Amtrak do the driving on this 5-hour trip past sea, city and forest.

From left, Elora Coble, Carol Richmond, David Hayes, Karli Reinbold, Giovanna Cossalter Walters, Landon Whitbread in a scene from Edmonds Driftwood Players' production of "Murder on the Orient Express." (Dale Sutton / Magic Photography)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Edmonds Driftwood Players opens its 65th season with Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Some collectibles are found in nature; some imitate them. If it weren’t for the attached figure, this Royal Dux porcelain vase might pass for a real conch shell.
This shell-shaped vase would make a fine souvenir of summer fun

It may not be a real shell, but this art nouveau piece could still evoke fond memories of days at the beach.

Arlington Garden Club celebrating its 90th anniversary

The club has monthly programs for north Snohomish County gardeners and awards scholarships to area students.

Spouses Franchesca and Don Simpson talk about their baby girl’s “chubby cheeks” and “button nose” as Kelly Fox RDMS RVT performs a live-view 3D ultrasound on the expecting mother Saturday, August 26, 2023, at Wonder Baby Ultrasound Studio in Everett, Washington. The Simpsons are expecting their first child in October. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Glamour shots in utero? Everett studio offers HD ultrasound keepsakes

For curious parents, these glimpses are exciting, but not medically endorsed.

An Oxford White grille with red “BRONCO” lettering signifies the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited Edition model. (Ford)
2023 Ford Bronco Sport has two new Heritage Edition models

Design and paint treatments pay homage to the original Bronco introduced in 1966.

Most Read