It's the end of November. Once again I am sitting in the family doctor's office waiting. Opposite me two representatives of the vulnerable groups. Less than six months after the first vaccination, I got the booster today. I thought I would be back on the road in the summer Towards freedom. I was wrong. What is it like when Corona knocks on your front door?
The fourth wave
Everything is different. We survived waves one to three without damage. COVID-19 was present in the background, and theoretically everyone in the circle of friends or family knew someone who was infected. But that was the theory, far away. Now the virus is scratching the front door.
It has arrived in our neighborhood, and it is also present at my suppliers. In one of them, entire shifts have to be canceled because, despite the hygiene concept, all employees are infected. Delivery dates are shifting to infinity. Companies that have survived the crisis well so far are trembling for their future.
There is more trouble. A dear family friend has a lung condition. She is in the clinic, far away, and cannot breathe on her own. Visiting them is almost impossible. The clinic is building a fortress against the virus around its sensitive patients. At least she tries. Elaborate tests, planned and shortened visits are designed to protect vulnerable lives.
The fear that it is slowly creeping up. The fear of an opponent who is invisible and incalculable. And who takes advantage of our weaknesses.
The bad news doesn't get any less with the days. There is a first breakthrough in vaccination in the Freundeskreis. An infection, presumably caught at work by a colleague. A course that is not mild, but which will hopefully not lead directly to the hospital. We are trembling!
Who is to blame for escalating the situation like this? You can take it easy for yourself and hold politics liable. There are many good arguments for doing this, for example to talk about the failure of the state. But that would be very convenient. We don't want to make it that easy for ourselves.
Unfortunately we live in a fully comprehensive society. The state, it seems to be our birthright, regulates the troublesome things. We ourselves sit in this fat, rich country in our comfort zone. We feel uncomfortably bothered when someone comes with the syringe and wants to vaccinate. An imposition that is directed against the integrity of the body and even more against our egoism.
We are sitting on millions of vaccination doses that are threatening to expire because the substance does not seem noble enough to us. We babble about civil rights as the number of corona deaths exceeds 100.000. And even this macabre figure is questioned and discussed. There are no limits. Truths are being reinvented and truths are being twisted.
The common sense
With a little more common sense, a view of the country, the neighbors, the old and sick fellow citizens, COVID-19 would not have become such a catastrophic topic. More people would have been vaccinated. You could scream out loud with anger. One could cry. Both at the same time.
There was this inaugural address by John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. This sentence was uttered that had its place on the wall in my office for years.
"Ask not what your country can do for you ..."
John F. Kennedy
Don't ask what the state can do for you. But do something yourself, take on responsibility and show a sense of community, keep an eye on the community. The sentence fell out of time. I guess I am too. Sometimes I feel like this. We need a John F. Kennedy again and people who do not see their own interests and the state's fully comprehensive insurance in the first place.
My friend Lizi proves to me almost every day that there can be another way. I keep getting pictures from Barcelona on my cell phone. Life is free there, the restaurants are open and at a mild 20 degrees it is easy to endure in a tapas bar. With a view of the Saab and the sea.
Barcelona has a vaccination rate that is over 90%. Are the Catalans smarter than the Germans? The truth is that the previous waves swept the land with all severity. In contrast to Germany, the Spanish state does not wrap its citizens in cotton wool and does not pay the restaurants 90% of the turnover (not of the profit). Everyone has to see where they stay. The state only provides rudimentary support. If you don't have a family to support you, you have a problem.
The Spaniards have learned their lesson. Vaccination is the best weapon we have. And that is used. In addition, the Spanish state knows how to enforce its orders. Entry is strictly controlled, in Germany this usually happens in theory or when television teams report.
The booster vaccination
Because the virus is knocking on my doorstep, I arrange the booster vaccination with my family doctor. The appointment will be timely, I just have to wait a week. Biontech to Johnson & Johnson in the summer. In the middle of the waiting time comes Cakofonie from Berlin. The incumbent health minister on call wants to shorten the Biontech delivery, while the number of infected people in the country is going through the roof. It's hard to believe.
The booster vaccination itself is quick. My GP's appointments are perfectly timed, and the waiting area is never too full. A stab, that was it. Again in six months. Maybe. That is not certain, the empirical values are missing, the pandemic is not yet 2 years old.
The vulnerable groups
Two representatives of the vulnerable groups sit in the waiting area. A description that I don't like. It sounds so neutral and cold. In truth, it is grandpa and grandma, the very old, who are particularly at risk. But that is a reasonable truth that would be burdensome. Because who would want to see grandpa or grandma in the cemetery because they refused to be vaccinated?
Vulnerable groups, then. That is less likely to sell to the public.
The two old men across from me are very old, over 80. Neither are high-end pensioners who you see fit and wiry in the media. None who have worked in the office or on the board of directors and who go on cruises in old age.
Two veterans who have worked hard for 50 years in production or construction. The clothes of the two are clean but simple. Seniors who indulge themselves little. Presumably they save a little from the pension every month for the children or grandchildren whom he should better have.
The two are among the people who built our country after the war and who have enough to do with themselves beyond the pandemic. You are poor on foot, breathing is a challenge even without the virus. One needs minutes until the mask is finally in place. Not precise, but it is the will that counts.
Breathing becomes even more difficult, with trembling hands he leafed through his vaccination certificate. The two would not survive an infection. You would be two more dead in the statistics, at the same time two additional truths that could be twisted.
Because everyone beyond the pandemic is dragging a list of additional diseases through life.
The side effects
Before the booster vaccination comes the bureaucracy. Germany manages what needs to be managed. And also that which cannot be managed. We are still the best in the world, we are relegated to everything else. An anamnesis sheet, pages of information on risks and side effects. Both have to be countersigned, twice, of course. The doctor is delighted, as is her patient.
The side effects are actually hardly noticeable. The upper arm hurts a bit, I feel like I'm on the move with the handbrake on for a few hours. Nothing more happened, although I was prepared for complications.
The personal responsibility
My friends and family also get the booster vaccination. The dates have already been agreed. Acquaintances who wanted to wait before changed their minds. They also go to the booster vaccination. That gives hope. Because the virus uses our selfishness and our vanities. It is constantly looking for new hosts, mutating, and it does not even think for a second of playing by our rules of wellbeing.
We won't get a second John F. Kennedy to boldly write the truths on the wall. This kind of politician is historical, it is not coming back. And maybe we just learn in a brutal way to take responsibility again and develop initiative. We were once strong in that, too, and that's where we have to go back. A learning process, accompanied by drama and death.