The Vaccine: Vampires No More!

Today I received my second dose of the vaccine. I cannot tell you how thankful I am. What a trying year this has been! We have washed our hands compulsively, worn the double mask, and tried to social-distance in a world where few have a sense of their bodies in space. The boost from the vaccine makes me feel psychologically stronger. Later, as I whooshed on my bike past a large group of people monopolizing the trail, I did not, for once, wave a cross or sprinkle Holy Water. Possibly that does not work with Covid carriers anyway. No, I hope everybody, especially that group, gets vaccinated. And, yes, I am still social-distancing, etc., ad nauseam.

If I had futuristic Covid grandchildren, raised on ventilators or masks and expert at the art of social-distancing, I would tell them the story of the vaccine. Once, when our world was overpopulated and polluted, a few manufacturers developed recipes for Covid-19 vaccines. But the vaccines were in short supply, brewed apparently in small pharmaceutical cauldrons, and only available in diminutive quantities. Governments vied for the vaccine, but the factories delivered slowly. And so in the first months of the vaccine, groups were prioritized: precedence was given to health workers, first responders, teachers, nursing home residents, people over 65, and people under 64 with special medical conditions. The biggest problem was getting an appointment at the government website, which is like scoring a tickets to a sold-out rock Bruce Springsteen concert. Fantastically the site opened at noon but the appointments seemed to be filled at 11:59. But persist, dear people. Eventually…

Vaccines have ended so many epidemics and pandemics. TB, polio, the flu, mumps, measles, smallpox …. There is no downside to the vaccines. The Hummel child would not have died in Little Women! Jo would not have died in Bleak House!

I have no Covid books to recommend, but here are two novels and a memoir about other epidemics and pandemics, polio, TB, and influenza. The book descriptions are taken from Goodreads and Lapham’s Quarterly.

Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR’s Polio Haven by Susan Richards Shreve (one of my favorite writers). Just after her eleventh birthday, at the height of the frightening childhood polio epidemic, Susan Richards Shreve was sent as a patient to the sanitarium at Warm Springs, Georgia. It was a place famously founded by FDR, “a perfect setting in time and place and strangeness for a hospital of crippled children.”

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. Set in a tuberculosis sanatorium, this 1924 classic is also a meditation on societal disease. Iain Bamforth at Lapham’s Quarterly writes, “the scholar Hermann J. Weigand called it ‘the epic of disease.’ It is more accurate to say that the novel is the epic of a particular disease, tuberculosis, one which has accompanied humans at least since they started building and settling in cities. But it is also, in a broader sense, an epic of illness—an ambitious attempt to show how being ill was experienced at a particular time in a particular culture.”

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue. In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

Happy Thursday Reading!

8 thoughts on “The Vaccine: Vampires No More!”

  1. I don’t want to be a downer, but don’t you have to wait for about three weeks for the second vaccine to take full effect?
    Another fine TB epic is The Rack by A.E. Ellis – more about the medical aspects than the socio-political – and there’s a TB comedy –
    The Plague and I.

    “Many a flawless lyric’s due
    Not to a btoken heart but flu.”
    said Auden, and of course TB is infamous for its supposed inspirational effects.

    1. I’m 100% PSYCHOLOGICALLY prepared to be immune! It takes two weeks for the whole thing to kick in, though. WE’ll be wearing masks etc. for a long time.

      Thanks for the literary recommendations. The Auden certainly made me laugh. And I do love Betty MacDonald, too, and have a musty (much-)used copy of The Plague and I.

  2. Congratulations on your 2nd dose! Mine is in a coupla weeks. To modern medicine deniers I would recommend reading the typhoid episode in Jane Eyre or the ‘poisoned watermelon’ episode in Little House on the Prairie which turns out to be malaria or any biography of the Brontes.

    1. I had forgotten all about those scenes, and they would certainly make the deniers think twice! We need a plague anthology.

    1. That WOULD be comical! I’ve never quite known what the Rotary Club is about, but I do hope they would put on their masks.

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