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Photo Essay: Inside the Struggle to Get Vaccinated

My mother’s medical conditions make her a high risk for COVID. So why is it so hard for her to get a vaccine?

By Featured, Multimedia, News, Photo, Photo Essay

Photo by Aidan Bryant.

“I think it’s fascinating that at the beginning, the people we have to protect are the older people, or the people with underlying conditions, and that’s what they told us all along. But when the time came for the vaccine, they didn’t do any of the people with an underlying condition. The people like myself, who are the most fragile, were just left out there.”

Photo by Aidan Bryant.

“I lost an appointment because I can’t get vaccinated at pharmacies in New York. I almost lost another appointment due to a glitch in the system. How many people with comorbidities died waiting for a spot to open up? The people with comorbidities who had to go out there, who had to work, who had to go to court, who had to go on the train, weren’t protected at all.”

Photo by Aidan Bryant.

“Seven years ago, somehow a flu turned into pneumonia, and things got out of hand very quickly. I didn’t realize it was bad until I got to the emergency room, they gave me something to knock me out, and I woke up in New York Presbyterian. I was intubated for two weeks. I thought I was being tortured, by the time I left there I was a shell of myself. And that is the COVID experience. The intubation, the fear of not being able to breathe. That’s the fear that everyone with a comorbidity has. I wasn’t sure if my body could handle it again. They told Dad I was going to die the first time. As much as everyone was afraid, I feel that people with comorbidities were even more afraid because we knew what was in store. Which makes it even more tragic that we weren’t the first ones vaccinated.”

Photo by Aidan Bryant.

“This is three months of medication for me. This is $120,000 worth of medication. In the middle of the pandemic I had to fight for coverage on one of my most important medications from my insurance company. It costs half a million dollars a year to keep my heart functioning, not including medical care.”

Photo by Aidan Bryant.

“Long Island has 3 million people on it, we only have 2 state sponsored sites. Old people can go to pharmacies and the state sites, but I can only get it at the state run sites. And I can’t get it in the city, even though they have multiple state run sites. After all the stress of getting the letter from my doctor, my medical charts, my medications, nobody even checked if I qualified. I went through at least four people who didn’t check my paperwork.”

Photo by Aidan Bryant.

My doctor gave me an 88 percent chance of dying from COVID. I wasn’t afraid of dying of the flu, but this is something that if I got it, I thought, game over. A year ago today I was terrified. It was so pervasive, so everywhere, I had no doubt I would get it.”

Photo by Aidan Bryant.

“People with comorbidities are people who spend a fair amount of time tending to their health.There are doctor’s appointments and tests and procedures that were postponed for fear of catching COVID at the hospital. We became not only vulnerable to COVID but to the deterioration of our conditions for not getting the care we need. It was a lose-lose.”

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