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Renée Schafer Horton: Killing time while waiting vaccination
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Renée Schafer Horton: Killing time while waiting vaccination

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The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

Three and a half weeks ago, listening to President Biden’s inaugural address, I was full of hope and relief, inoculated (as it were), with the stability and can-do attitude I was witnessing.

I was especially encouraged by the determination of conquering COVID-19 via a speedy delivery of vaccines. I’m simply so very weary of viewing everyone around me as a possible death laser.

It was a glorious moment, made even better by the optimism of U.S. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s poem describing — almost commanding — us to better days.

Sadly, the glory didn’t last because nationwide vaccination turns out to be more complicated than anyone wants.

One day it seemed you could get vaccinated by randomly walking your dog past the Tucson Convention Center, and the next, there were no appointments to be had anywhere.

This roller coaster of wondering when one’s turn would come has been crazy-making for me and my friends, all of whom happen to be in the dead-last category of “general population.”

Depending on the day, estimates of when this group — which covers the enormous 18- to 64-year-old age range — will be vaccinated varies. My spirits lifted when I heard we’d get our first inoculation by spring, and then plummeted when a more cautious expert estimated the date to be closer to the end of summer “and beyond.”

So, what’s a “general population” member to do? First, nag the Phoenix power brokers to send Pima County a fair share of the state’s vaccine allotments so we can speed up our vaccinations. Chuck Huckelberry and his band of mighty health warriors have built out numerous vaccination sites, but they’ll be empty if Gov. Doug Ducey remains tight-fisted with the shots.

Then, tackle this 12-step catalog of “Things to do while hoping for salvation”:

1. Take up face yoga. Yes, this is a thing. And it kills a solid 10 minutes daily.

2. Drive past a bar or restaurant full of people and yell, “Stay home!” This will have zero effect on decreasing Pima County’s COVID-19 numbers, but it will make you feel better.

3. Clean out the cupboard under your kitchen sink. Spend hours researching where to appropriately dispose of expired cleaning products and that one gray bottle of something that has a label you can no longer read.

4. Write politicians and ask that the “general population” group can be tailored to even the playing field. If you have a 64-year-old competing in an online registration system with a 24-year-old, the younger will “win” most of the time.

5. Track down the person listed in your high school yearbook as “Most likely to succeed” and see if she actually did succeed. Then find out if she’s gotten vaccinated. If not, mark her as “absolutely not successful” in your mental Rolodex.

6. Walk your neighborhood and check on your elderly neighbors to see if they need help getting registered for vaccinations. Throw on a mask, sanitize your hands and help.

7. Translate three pages from your all-time favorite novel into Pig Latin (Igpay Atinlay).

8. Rearrange your spices alphabetically.

9. Draw sketches of everyone in your Zoom meetings while your boss drones on about “upskilling.” Set up an eBay shop to sell them.

10. Unsubscribe from the 317 emails you receive because you once gave someone your email address to get a 10% discount on a $30 purchase from a company you never wanted to support in the first place.

11. Plant quinoa. Wait. Wait some more. Wait even longer. When the plant finally produces, rejoice, because it means Labor Day is only a few more weeks away and you might get your vaccine!

12. Buy chickens. Ignore restrictions that say you can’t have chickens in your part of town because — pandemic, people! You’ve been one of the good soldiers who only goes out for medical appointments and 20-minute, masked grocery runs? You haven’t had your hair cut in 10 months? You don’t remember what real pants feel like? YOU CAN HAVE CHICKENS. You’re welcome.

If you apply yourself to this list, Mr. and Ms. General Population, you should be busy through the summer. But if you need something else to keep you going, take another listen to Gorman’s poem and take on her challenge. You’ll surely be vaccinated before you master that.

Renée Schafer Horton is a regular Star contributor. Reach her at To hear Amanda Gorman recite her Inauguration Day poem, go to

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