Dinengdeng & Pinakbet

Nana Lydia; our brave 92-year-old takes vaccine.

Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran

92-year old Lydia Coloma receives her vaccine at Longs Drugs.
Photos courtesy of Gil S.C. Keith-Agaran

My 92-year-old mom initially resisted getting her COVID-19 vaccination. She even skipped her flu shot this year.

Mom watches a lot of cable news during this pandemic. She heard about the side effects: pain in area where the shot is administered, tiredness, muscle pain, chills, fever, nausea, headaches and fatigue (more often anecdotally with the second Pfizer or Moderna dose). People with allergies to vaccine ingredients may have more severe reactions.

Mom also heard some nurses at the hospital were not getting the vaccine.

But then she heard from friends and neighbors who received their jabs and assured her they were fine. Insistence from my spouse, sister and me that she gets the shots as soon as she was eligible apparently were not enough.

I went online to register her on the CDC website and to book an appointment locally. I created her own email some years back for online shopping that she hardly ever uses. Having an email account came in handy because the rollout initially required you to go online, with each person setting up an appointment on their separate email account. I spoke to a number of neighbors who had to set up email accounts for their spouses who rarely used online platforms.

Perhaps it’s just the usual government platform but the CDC appointment program wasn’t very user friendly and didn’t make it easy to find an open date. My mom is fortunate her younger family members are addicted to their smart phones, laptops and iPads and tablets.

While I got her a late-January date, unfortunately, she was one of the people whose appointments were postponed by Maui Health Systems due to vaccine dose shortages at the local hospital.

She was still waiting to be called back by MHS for her first dose at the hospital when Longs Drugs opened their Kahului clinic. I scheduled her at Maui Mall for her first dose in a more simplified online process.

Mom asked me to tell the nurses to use a short needle—she’d seen what looked like pretty long needles on the local news. But when she went for her appointment, she hardly noticed the injection. “I just turned my head and it was done,” she told me while eating some guri guri for the drive home.

Her second dose is scheduled for later this month.

Enjoying a Guri Guri treat, a post vaccine treat.
Photo: Gil S.C. Keith Agaran

Mom still watches a lot of news. She knows social distancing, mask wearing and good basic hygiene practices remain important for moving closer to normalcy. She is still looking forward to going to breakfast at IHOP with her friends.

With three effective and safe vaccines now available—Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—everyone should plan on getting their shot when your time comes. Anecdotally, Filipinos are not signing up as much as others. That’s worrisome given the number of Filipinos critical in providing health care and working in the visitor industry. While the government likely will not mandate vaccinations, some businesses are weighing seriously whether to do so for their employees.

No doubt, some questions remain about these new vaccines. People are cautious and some avoid vaccines generally. The development of these treatments were faster than usual but scientists assure us the same protocols for trials and approvals were followed. This pandemic has simply been unprecedented in so many ways. President Biden, invoking the Defense Production Act, even brokered a deal between rivals Johnson & Johnson and Merck to speed up manufacturing more doses. As supplies increase, hopefully most of Maui will have the opportunity by summer.

Now she wants to know when the stimulus checks will be sent out and why the Republicans are opposed to a higher minimum wage.

Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran graduated from Maui High School. His family members plan to get vaccinated when their groups become eligible.