log: second shot

벌레 일지 WORMDATE: L3: 1,940 – 337,679: 13 – 2,618: 78.3 % – 61.6 %

I received my second shot today. Once again, very easy. Just went in at my time, filled out my form, answered a couple questions from the doctor, got my shot, waited 15 minutes, and left. Simple. If you haven’t got your vaccine yet, go do that — if you’re lucky enough to be in a place where you can get a shot, go get a shot.

It’s just nice to get it done. Not so much on the personal protection front, though that’s nice too, but just to do my very little bit to help get those vaccination numbers up. And, in South Korea, at least, these numbers are finally getting up.

This means that we’re going to be transitioning to the Living With COVID strategy soon. Current estimate — this approach will start on November 9. As with everything else, we’ll have to wait and see. Important meetings are being held. The transition strategy is being figured out.

We’ve also had what feels like the first piece of good news in a while. South Korea has enjoyed three major holidays, one pretty much right after the other. And it seems that each one of these saw more people travelling than the last. So far, during this pandemic, that sort of thing has been disastrous. This time around, even as that happened, the new daily case numbers basically stayed level. They even started to decrease. Vaccinations work.

Of course, there’s no magic bullet and there’s a lot –A LOT– more to be done. And a lot of that work involves social measures. Sick days, reduced inequality, that sort of thing. These things have been an essential part of public health for a long time. Often these measures are the most important part of public health. We neglect them at our peril. And we often neglect these measures because many of us live in societies that prefer a sort of rah-rah technological solutionism to ever actually dealing with a problem on a social level or even admitting that it can and should be dealt with in that fashion. We’d rather do almost anything than anything that even bears a glancing resemblance to socialism. Where we act socially, it is too often on the level of policing. Our imaginations are fucked. Deeply fucked.

It seems that much of the approach in the countries that have handled this the worst, have not just been ignoring the problem but also casting aside the social aspects of this crisis. Rather than a swiss cheese approach, they’ve favored a deranged, ever-changing, myopic hyper-focus on the new one easy trick, miracle measure. One after another. It takes a lot of things to fix a crisis. There are no magic bullets. There are no easy tricks.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Yes, of course, technology is part of the solution. Masks, vaccines, whathaveyou, these things are needed and these things work. But problems such as pandemics are a lot of problems. They require a lot of solutions. Often, you have to do many of these things at once. It’s not easy.

But you don’t need to believe a bozo like me. As a matter of fact, don’t.

Over at The Atlantic, Ed Yong says much of what I want to say and have been trying to say about this focus on magic bullet, high-tech solutions. Yong is able to say all this with much more nuance, clarity, and grace, and backup than I’m ever able to muster. I really recommend checking his article out. It’s great.

A fragment:

“We’re so focused on these high-tech solutions because they appear to be what a high-income country would do,” Alexandra Phelan, an expert on international law and global health policy at Georgetown University, told me. And indeed, the Biden administration has gone all in on vaccines, trading them off against other countermeasures, such as masks and testing, and blaming “the unvaccinated” for America’s ongoing pandemic predicament. The promise of biomedical panaceas is deeply ingrained in the U.S. psyche, but COVID should have shown that medical magic bullets lose their power when deployed in a profoundly unequal society. There are other ways of thinking about preparedness. And there are reasons those ways were lost.

To his point of ‘blaming the unvaccinated’, I’m probably about to wander into more controversial territory here but . . . I really do not like the idea of vaccine passports.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I can see why, in certain situations, these things may be used to goad people into getting vaccines. In some cases, I can see the necessity of that. Just as, if I squint, I can see that more people have died from COVID this year than last but vaccines exist so fuck them, right? I can understand the anger. Even if I think it’s often misplaced and probably will not do anyone any good at all, I get it. Like, fuck these bozos.

So, yeah, I can see why passports might be a necessity. But thinking a thing might be necessary is a far cry from thinking it is good. Do people actually think they are good? Is that just a straw man? I don’t know. I’m not sure. But I get the impression they do.

I get this impression from how often I hear some dismissive bullshit along the lines of ‘you already need an age passport to get into a bar.’ I don’t think it’s the same as that. I mean, to start, drinking age is usually just some arbitrary puritan moral bullshit. 18 here, 19 there, 21 there, unless you’re in the army. I wouldn’t compare everyone having to present a medical record to a bouncer to people who look young having to present proof of age.

It doesn’t remind me of proof of age. It reminds me of the metal detectors on American school and bar entrances. Maybe those are necessary. Maybe things have gotten that bad. In some places, they have. But those metal detectors are not a solution. They are a symptom. In a lot of ways, they’re part of the problem.

It’s better to deal with the problem at the root. Even if people are not willing to do the right thing and

Actually. Let’s just stop there for a second. I think the jury is out on how much of vaccine resistance is a result of people being determinedly anti-vaccination and how much of this issue is due to failures of communication, trust, rotted for profit healthcare systems, etc. I’m damn fucking sure that worldwide, which is the way we NEED to view this crisis, the problem is not hesitancy or resistance to vaccines but a lack of supply and hoarding by wealthy nations. So, if we want to get rates up, dealing with that hoarding is the first order of business — far more important than dealing with the local crystal fascist cranks.

But, having said that, even if people are unwilling to do the right thing, I’m still not sure that passports are the right approach. I think it helps shift the blame away from the real problems with the system onto, well, bozos. It puts workers into danger and gives them extra work for no extra pay. It could even, perhaps, encourage the unvaccinated to cluster together, which is where you start to get serious problems, and that these passports will probably be enforced in some pretty arbitrary, racist, and classist ways. All in all, I think it makes those who get sick easier to ignore. And, well, if one wants to talk about IDs in bars and driver’s licenses and the like — we do still (or should at least) give medical care to drunk drivers.

I suspect that a lot of the damage one sees in a hospital is due to someone doing something pretty stupid — often over the course of years. Depending on how stupid that action was, we don’t necessarily need to be sympathetic and, in some cases, we may even be forgiven for laughing. But in a situation as charged as this? In a situation where so many powerful interests want to wash their hands of any responsibility? We should be careful. We should be very wary. Treat with caution anything that makes us blame the sick.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve already become too accustomed to death. We’ve already blamed too many victims. We just need to be careful of that shit, is all.

If it comes down to it, I would much prefer mandates to passports. Just as I prefer gun control to metal detectors. And I would prefer those mandates to be laws rather than up to the companies. Really, I would prefer people just do the right thing. I would like rates to be high and both mandates and passports to be rendered a mote point. Now, some parts of the world? There’s probably no danger of people doing the right thing.

But here?

I really hope we don’t see vaccine passports for things like bars, restaurants, and clubs. If such an approach is to be adopted here, I would like to see why it was necessary. It is my honest to Satan hope that we have a high enough vaccination rate to avoid adopting these passports. And that having that high rate, we just don’t adopt that bullshit.

But, if we do adopt that system, don’t expect to see me waving a sign around in the street or shouting at people going into a hospital. Because, really? Fucking really? At the end of the day, the KDCA has not steered me wrong yet. They’ve been right a lot more than me. So I’ll do what I’m asked and take it on trust. Considering how well this country has treated me since the start of this whole mess, that’s the very least I could do.

This has all gone on too long. This post, I mean.

I can’t believe this is how I take a break from my studies. Yeesh.

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