Nadia, Owen and I received our first dose of the vaccine against COVID. The World Health Organization helped Uzbekistan purchase 600,000 doses of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine last month. The COVAX program’s goal is to deliver vaccines to low income countries. The idea is that no one is safe unless all countries are vaccinated. Having the virus continue to thrive in large populations risks the rise of new mutations that may not be deterred by our current range of vaccines. Especially for our foreign faculty who are caught between being an expatriate here in Uzbekistan and not being a resident of their home countries, I was concerned we would not be able to access the vaccine. But thanks to the help of the World Health Organization Uzbekistan office and our clinic, we were able to secure enough doses for everyone. The Uzbek government is prioritizing the elderly, health care workers and now teachers. Our school was able to offer the vaccine to all employees and dependents this week, thanks to help from our sister organization, the Tashkent International Clinic. Authorities from the Sanitary Epidemiological Station (SSES), the Health Department of the former Soviet Republic world came to the clinic to deliver the first doses.
The SSES personnel felt great satisfaction to get such an ecstatic response from our foreign employees, including the Kralovec family. The vast majority of Uzbeks I know are skeptical of the AstraZeneca vaccine. They cite the very rare instances of blood clots and the pauses governments around the world have taken. There is also skepticism of government programs in general which is part of the Soviet legacy and autocratic government here. I fear that vaccine uptake will be slowed by this attitude. Hopefully, Uzbeks will be more accepting of other vaccines like Sputnik V or the Chinese vaccines.
I did not feel much fear or anxiety about getting COVID. I am in pretty good health and not over 65. However, after getting the first dose of the vaccine, I felt elated and relieved, more so than I thought I would. We will now get our second dose before we leave for summer vacation in June. We received the Oxford AstraZeneca manufactured in India and is called “Covishield”. We’ll be some of the few Americans with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Because of the upheaval the coronavirus has caused us, we were happy to start to see the end of this pandemic. However, it is going to probably be much like the flu vaccine, with us having to get a yearly booster against the different mutations from that particular year.
This rapid development of the vaccine also highlighted to me the progress of science. DNA technology has really changed the vaccine landscape, making it much easier for companies to design specific vaccines to counter a multitude of viruses. I can see this area of science only getting better which bodes well for a planet with an ever increasing population and the potential for new viruses to infect humans.
About 1/3 of people who took the vaccine, felt side effects bad enough to keep them at home from school. I didn’t really feel much which worries me a bit about my immune system. Why no strong reaction? 🙂 Nadia had fever and headache and Owen had a headache. Both are feeling better as I write this post in the evening of the day after the vaccines. I came home from school and took a nap and went for a bike ride along the Ankhor Canal. It was a beautiful Tashkent spring evening and the Minor Mosque and water reinvigorated me to finish the week at school on a positive note.