I drink my two cups of coffee on Monday mornings and while watching the news begin a mental crossword puzzle wondering how many ways we will discuss vaccines this morning. Pfzier, Moderna, and now Johnson and Johnson. . . . . all vaccine puzzles begin with those names and will for the rest of Covid-19. But who will keep showing up at the table of pandemic vaccines and why?
Don’t get me started on television ads and their propensity toward convincing the American public that new drugs must solve old medical problems. Opdivo, Jardiance, Linzess and my favorite, Skyrizi, are just a dynamic few. Most names I can’t remember, certainly can’t spell (and I’m a former medical transcriptionist), and can’t associate with its disease source. But I do remember the little ditties that go with some — -“Nothing is Everything” being most notable for sending Skyrizi into my long-term memory.
So naturally I’m curious about what happens when vaccines become the upper tier of our new medical economy. Who will produce them and why? Like Amazon and Walmart, will they become pre-packaged giants in our brains? — -“Pfzier will always be Number 1 because it was here first, and J&J still holds my affection because it produced the first all-in-one protection against Covid-19.” How will we determine who wins this strange race between vaccines? Because there is one being tallied, you know. And these first young upstarts will lead the way.
We are beginning a new generation of drugs, to be sure. They live under a very special designation — mRNA vaccines — and they give us pause to consider how lucky we are to live in this time of gene splicing and dicing. After the initial blast of confusion about how these Covid-19 vaccines have been prepared, how the roll-out of availability has been steady-by-jerks, and how some folks are confident in taking any one of these concoctions and some aren’t, I’ve come to the conclusion that this type of drug making has so many variables it’s going to take many months (maybe years) to iron them out.
And that brings me to this: Think of this time of confusion as a kind of “bad hair day.” Give yourself a pat on the back for attempting to settle the mess by taking the vaccine punch we’ve seen pushed into every television arm available. Every human being still has a decision to make — to settle the matter in the way prescribed, or not.
But Remember: We have now begun a long, hard trail through vaccinations. They’ve been controversial for some time, and they will continue to be in the months to come. Measles, polio, even the old fashioned flu shot — their vaccines have suddenly become second tier. Not forgotten, just part of the line-up. Mandatory or not, they have led us to this moment. . . the moment that just might be the most mandatory one of an entire generation.
And we haven’t even gotten to the big question yet — — — who’s going to pay for them? The future of vaccines may hinge on that question, not only for an entire generation, but for a world of poor and desperate nations. It’s a big plan. No wonder I’m confused.