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Image / Editorial

Vaccine envy: ‘Why a year of Covid has brought out the begrudgers’


by Amanda Cassidy
13th Mar 2021
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A year ago we clapped for the frontline workers and almost burst with community pride in the face of adversity. Now, not so much, writes Amanda Cassidy

“Maybe hold off on the high-fives, some of us are still waiting,” one Irish woman tweeted this week. “Yes, happy for those who’ve had the vaccine and everything, but we are still waiting here for the jab and it is pretty disheartening to see others posting about it.”

Vaccine envy is the latest affliction to hit our nation, just after the restrictions police and the curtain twitchers. Over the past year, we’ve gradually moved from rejoicing over our new-found community spirit to begrudging people a minutes happiness in this misery-guts of a 12-month period.

We aren’t in this together. We are in the same storm but not the same boat. And that’s not illegal.

That is what is truly disheartening. Have we forgotten all those who’ve been shielding indoors, a generation in the winter of their lives, who were denied hugs, company, a miserly trip out to the shops? Are we so wound up with pent-up anger that we can’t celebrate the big wins for those who’ve been traumatised for a year waiting for this? Or is it human nature to want others to have as awful a time as we are?

“It’s a bit in your face,” someone else texts me when I tell her (honestly) that I’m thrilled that the area we are living in has less Covid. “It’s insensitive,” she types, and I can feel her irrational anger jump out from my phone screen.

I get it.

We are constantly told that we are all in this together. But that’s a romantic catch-cry. We aren’t in this together. We are in the same storm but not the same boat. And that’s not illegal.

But as we move to newer debates – vaccine rollouts, the glancing-over-the-neighbours-fence problem is only going to get worse. “Why did Sallyann next door get it before me when she’s a teacher and my husband is a Garda? or “Ciara is 50 but I’ve got diabetes.”

To ask somebody not to celebrate something that they perceive as good because it might upset you isn’t fair. By that logic, anyone who ever posted a picture online of their kitchen upgrade shouldn’t – because it might make you feel a little ‘less-than. The world doesn’t work like that.

Misery loves company

It’s about control, or the lack of it, as we muddle through another year of restrictions, being told what we can or can’t do. It grates seeing others having a marginally better time – living closer to the beach, beside a park when there’s none in our 5km, those with a garden.

That’s what is fueling this begrudgery. Because Covid has been a great leveler in some ways, but it’s also exposed some of the core feelings that float to the top like scum when water remains stagnant – fear, frustration, and the ugliest of them all, envy.

So if you see people whose loved ones – those petrified for months by the cold hand of Covid, finally celebrating their jab, let’s push that pang aside and remember that their peers were the ones that filled the morgues.

Let’s celebrate all the good things, for everyone. High fives all round.