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COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs a joke for seniors

Something needs to change

If you’ve not yet hit that magic number, 65, and you’re in good physical shape, I have bad news for you: You have no access to any COVID-19 vaccines now being administered in the RGV on a hit-or-miss basis, which usually includes waiting in long lines for 12 to 24 hours, depending on the vaccine injection hub.

For those younger than 65, forget all that encouraging talk about keeping your weight down within normal limits. If you accomplished that difficult feat, congrats, but you’re still screwed because you’re not eligible for the COVID vaccination.

Forget all that happy talk about exercise so you can hopefully stay healthy, thereby increasing your odds that won’t develop heart problems in your 40s, diabetes, high blood pressure in your 50s. That’s no way to be eligible for a vaccination, the next time one arrives in the RGV.

Instead, throw the damn salad and fresh fruit in the garbage -- you never did like that tasteless “rabbit food” anyway -- and just eat a ton of unhealthy foods like a greasy taco filled with Mollejas and grilled onions. If you can pack in five tacos a day, four donuts in between meals, and some morning tacos with some potatoes and chorizo inside, you can gain, say 40 pounds in no time flat and then qualify as “obese.” That label alone will qualify you for a COVID-19 vaccine.

As a rule of thumb, if you stand 5’ 9” and weigh 203 pounds, you are considered obese, according to federal guidelines. From there, you can factor it up or down yourself. A guy standing 5’ 11” can weigh 215 and is classified as obese. I stand 5’ 11”. When I used to weigh 215, if you saw me, you’d never say I looked obese. I actually got up to 272 pounds by the time I was 44 before decided that I need to lose this weight before serious health problems begin to develop. I was already breathing heavy. So, I dropped 90 pounds, and I have kept it off for the past 21 years. It’s not been easy, but here I am, still well below 200 pounds.

Who is Obese?

So what’s considered obese, you might ask.

As usual, the federal government is still lacking a functioning brain. In the old days, when I was a kid and a teen, the Body Mass Index Table, used to determine who is obese, included three types of skeletal frames: the Mesomorph (muscular body), the Endomorph (middle-of-the-road thick body), and the Ectomorph (thin body/skeletal frame).

The three different body types carry weight differently. The Mesomorph (the muscled athlete, for example) can usually eat a ton when they’re young and never gain weight. They’re naturally fit, play sports,, and carry extra weight better than the other two body types. The ability to eat a lot, though, and not gain any weight, even though you no longer exercise, usually ends when you hit your early 20s and your metabolism begins to slow. That’s when the Mesomorphs need to start counting calories and getting on the scales daily to check their weight so it doesn’t get too out of hand.

Don’t know what year, but somewhere along the line, the fed health people discarded the three body types and lumped us all into one group to determine our Body Mass Index (BMI), which will tell us the measure of our body fat based solely on height and weight. They also did away with the gender. Now, you no longer have to say if you’re a male or female. Guess that got too dicey, even though women are built differently than men and normally carry more body fat (for the sake of maternity).

It’s a scam, but again, these are the feds coming up with this formula, so it’s a safe bet it’s already a screwed-up mess right out of the gate.

The Body Mass Index calculators are all over the web, easy to find. Simply type “BMI calculator” into an online search engine. Enter your height and weight, and bingo, up pops your BMI. If you’re at 30, you are considered obese, and wait for it….you now qualify for the COVID vaccination.

“Hand me another taco.”

With that designation in hand, you can get on the state’s fast track to getting a COVID-19 vaccination, and you’re considered in the same class as the 80-year-old woman with heart problems. Same class as the 75-yearold man trying to overcome his cancer diagnosis. Doesn’t matter if you’re 23 or 40 and in good health. If you’re obese, you can get that vax.

Those in shape are screwed

The latest roll-outs in the Valley have been first-come, first-served. Meaning, if you’re unable to sit in a car for long periods (10 to 20 hours or more), then you’re not going to get one. So far, I know of no vaccine roll-out that has offered appointments for those considered to be in a high-risk group (including the obese), other than the few offered by DHR Christmas week.

Since then, it’s been hurry up and wait. You get your car in line, spend the night, and then get the vaccine the next morning. Or risk showing up the morning of the vaccine, hoping you’re not too late.

When I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine Christmas week, I was able to sign up online, and the next day, only had to wait in line for two hours. Alongside me were people in their 80s willing to stand in line for two hours, simply because they weren’t yet willing to give up on life, and so, they wanted a vaccine. I applaud them.

Those days, my friends, are long gone. Last week’s COVID vaccinations in Mercedes at the Livestock Show grounds took place on a Tuesday. Cars started showing up Monday to get in line. That effort was led by the county. By 8 a.m., the county had run out of doses.

This Tuesday, DHRHealth hosted a vaccination event. You had to download a consent form, according to the online instructions, fill it out, and then show up at HEB Park (south Edinburg) to check in at 7 p.m. Monday. If you had your consent form, and you were among the high-risk group (Phase 1b), then you’d get an armband and could get vaccinated Tuesday morning at the Bert Ogden Arena after driving your car from one parking lot to the other.

Both events involved long wait-times in a vehicle. The low temp Monday night hit 37 degrees.

Again, the people who would qualify for Tuesday’s vaccination included those who are 65 or older, or those 18 and over who have a chronic medical condition, which includes obesity. Meaning, even if you’re only 30 years old, as long as you are obese, you’re good to go. If you’ve done the right thing most of your life, kept off the excess weight, stayed in shape, you don’t qualify.

Moral of this story: the people who have done the wrong thing get rewarded.

The people under the age of 65 who have done the right thing – lived a healthy lifestyle – get the shaft – no COVID-19 vaccine. Maybe by the summer or late spring you can get it. Hope you can stay alive until then.

You would also qualify for Tuesday’s vaccine if you have a chronic health condition that includes: cancer, kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart conditions, organ transplantation, Type 2 Diabetes, or you are pregnant.

To be fair, DHR hardly had any notice that the state was shipping them 6,500 doses of the Moderna vaccination, but why not let people register (sign in) online and then make an appointment? Spread it out over this entire week? Why make people sit in a cold parking lot overnight?

What’s missing in all of this is a federal plan that works together with the states to form a coordinated plan of action. To date, we have none. Where is FEMA when you need it?

Hopefully, when Trump vacates the Oval Office, taking with him his bogus “Stop the Steal” mantra, things will start to change for the better with regard to the availability of COVID vaccinations. So far, the vaccine roll-out has been a mess, much like last year’s federal response to the pandemic, which has now claimed the lives of approximately 378,000 Americans.

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