One Small Prick
No, not me, the medical miracle of vaccination
It’s easy, amidst moaning about the NHS website and queues, speculation about which brand of vaccine you’re going to get, and the latest revelation of incompetence on behalf of the government, to overlook what has happened when you line up to get your jab.
As some dedicated and probably exhausted volunteer shoots you up, you are being injected with billions of pounds of government and private-sector investment, years of medical training, untold hours of desperate grinding labour and boredom in labs all over the world, one-thousand-and-one nights of scientific collaboration and error and despair, false positives and false negatives and conversations about potential side effects.
It’s not a cure for everything, but in a few seconds you receive not just a vaccination against SARS CoV-2, but hopefully also an immunisation against cynicism, mistrust of other human beings, taking medical education and collaboration for granted, rejecting the value of government however run by fools it may sometimes seem - and above all a massive booster shot of faith in human ability to do monumental things when we’ve got a common goal that isn’t fighting another country, or race, or religion, or method of running an economy.
All of these things, and more, get injected into you in a moment that takes a few seconds and a short pinprick.
You are less at risk, and so is the world. Nothing has changed, but everything has.
To be jabbed, then, should be to think deeply about what happens next: all those weepingly lonely people starved of touch able to hug their loved ones again; think of the number of people that will get laid as a result of this one small prick, the joy shags and the relief fucks and the lays of elation, and think of all the subsequent lives that will begin because this vaccine exists. It is nothing more or less than a Big Bang moment, and we will be feeling its effects for generations.
Getting jabbed is a moment to reflect on your fortune in being part of a generation able to produce such miracles at speed in the face of insurmountable obstacles, at being one of the ones who survived to receive it, at being born in an era when the people who put the shot in moonshot were around to deliver.
This privilege is still unavailable to millions of less fortunate people all over the world: the fact that anyone might decline their few milligrams of a modern medical miracle like this is at best laughable and at worst crushingly sad.
I will never know or meet most or all of the people who have touched such a creation on its way to being stuck in my arm: there is no podium, no pantheon, no prize profound enough for those who have contributed to marathon achievements like this one, but whoever you are out there, I and millions of other human beings owe you an immeasurable debt.
“….for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
— George Eliot
Yes, it’s just a little scratch, but it’s a long time since so little has meant so much, at least to me.
If nothing else, you get a chocolate and a sticker too.