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Constance Alexander: Availability of COVID vaccine inspires deadly sins, and a couple of virtues

Pride, covetousness, lust, anger, envy, sloth, scandal. That was how we memorized the Seven Deadly Sins at St. Francis School. Our source was the Baltimore Catechism, which the Sisters of Mercy used relentlessly as they drilled us in the finer points of our faith. The good nuns did such a thorough job that every girl could recite the no-no’s flawlessly. Today, thus indoctrinated, I still remember them, in order.

Amidst the general hubbub around COVID-19 vaccinations, those teachings have taken on new relevance. Many people want a shot; some even lust for one, but confusion reigns as they ponder their eligibility.

“Am I an a, b, or c?” they fret.

Seven Deadly Sins by Pieter Brueghel, 1556-58

Suddenly we are catapulted back to elementary school, waiting to be chosen for the best team in volleyball and hoping not to end up the last one picked.

Uncertainty about the availability of the vaccines provokes anger, another flaw. So used to instant gratification – fast food, scratch-off lottery tickets, instant messaging — delays are infuriating. Those who venture onto Facebook discover who has been shot already, leading to the green-eyed monster, envy.

Upon learning that some have experienced the vaccination without being an a, b, or c, covetousness emerges, a white-hot, all-consuming desire for anything that will help fight COVID. These folks might be tempted to ingest bleach, try to score a dose of Regeneron, or even find a way to irradiate their bodies with UV light.

Those successfully inoculated sometimes succumb to pride. They puff up with a sense of accomplishment as they tell how it came to be that they learned there were vaccine doses in Mayfield or Hopkinsville or Paducah. Often scarce on the details, they mention a vial with just enough vaccine for another shot or two.

“There were some left-overs and I got a call. Don’t know who or how, but I jumped into the car and was there in ten minutes. I was just lucky, I guess. Luck of the draw,” they say,

Others are bogged down in sloth. Unable to exert themselves to do research and determine the particulars regarding the availability of Covid-19 shots, they cluster together on Facebook and other social media, complaining and trading misinformation.

Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray. She can be reached at constancealexander@twc.com. Or visit www.constancealexander.com.

A quick visit to Governor Beshear’s site would be a partial remedy for what ails most of us. The home page is packed with details and data, including a quick survey to determine whether you are an a, b, or c. With that, a visitor can access a map of locations where shots are to be given, including a recent addition — Murray’s own CFSB Center on the Murray State University campus. The County Health Department site also provides information about signing up, including a form that earns an individual a spot on the vaccine list.

While a plethora of information is available, there are glitches in the system, leaving many unanswered questions. My husband and I signed up online weeks ago, for example, but have no idea if, when we clicked “Submit,” that we were added to the database. After learning that shots would be administered locally, we signed up again, just in case. This time, an email confirmed the information had been received.

Meanwhile, as early as January 4, eleven top state legislators received Moderna shots, while working on legislation that would limit the governor’s decision-making in emergency situations associated with the pandemic. The law passed, was vetoed, and passed again. Judge Phillip Shepherd issued a court order to temporarily block the law, saying it could create “chaos” and asking to hear more arguments.

In response, Senate President Robert Stivers, one of those lucky ones vaccinated way back in December, declared that he needed to review Judge Shepherd’s order to “better understand” his rationale.

This brings us to Dolly Parton, a woman whose mere presence has inspired visions of a deadly sin or two. She, who generously donated a million dollars to help fund the promising Moderna vaccine, is not giving up her shot, but virtuously waiting her turn.

“I’m going to get it, though,” she said Thursday. “I didn’t want to jump line. I didn’t donate the money so I could be protected. I did it for everybody.”

And that, dear readers, leads to the Seven Virtues: Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Justice, Temperance, and Prudence. For those in search of COVID shots, please pray for patience.

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