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ASK AMY

Vaccine doesn’t inoculate against hurt feelings

Q. Here’s one for the bizarre era in which we are living.

I have been close friends with “Brenda” since we were kids. We touch base a few times a week (electronically). We are now both 65 and live in the same community.

Like everyone, we’ve been struggling to get COVID vaccinations. Brenda messaged me, saying, “Our friend called us last-minute to come get vaccinated (at a nearby location), since the pharmacy had leftover vaccine and they wanted to use it up before it went bad; we had to get there quickly, and we did, and got vaccinated.”

I am glad to know that my dear friend and her husband were vaccinated. But, Amy, I am really stung that she did not phone me and tell me about this opportunity. If she had said, “My friend said there were only two vaccines left, so I didn’t call you,” then I would have been OK with that, certainly. But she didn’t say anything at all. If the situation had been reversed, I would have called her right away.

I was flummoxed and simply told her I was glad to hear the good news. But I am feeling hurt and feel like our friendship has been bruised. I guess I’m hoping that by sharing this it might make people think a little bit, or maybe I just need to “vent.”

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Your thoughts?

DISAPPOINTED IN THE NORTHEAST

A. I’ve read of very long lines forming at some vaccine-dispensing pharmacies, sometimes starting well before the pharmacy opens in the morning — all for the chance at snagging a dose of leftover vaccine in the afternoon. Some pharmacies are offering leftover doses, rather than destroy the vaccine at the end of the day (after all of the appointed doses have been given).

Most often, very few doses are available, and so yes, you should assume that in your friend’s case, you would not have been able to snag one, even with a bit of advance notice.

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I realize that a sort of “every man for himself” ethic seems to have taken hold regarding the vaccine for COVID (one article described it as more “Lord of the Flies”), but one way to see this is that now that your friend and her husband are vaccinated, this frees up two more doses for others to receive by appointment.

All the same, you should tell your friend how you feel about this.


Q. I’m a physician. Over the years, it seems to be increasingly common for not only family and friends, but also co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances I haven’t seen for over 30 years on social media to ask me for medical advice. Fortunately, my health system frowns on me actually writing prescriptions or performing minor medical procedures unless they are a bona-fide registered patient.

It’s not that I don’t care, but after working long hours treating extremely sick patients during this pandemic, the last thing I want to do when I’m off and at a social gathering or doing yard work in my front yard is to discuss medical concerns or look at rashes. I got off social media partly because I was constantly inundated with medical questions and concerns.

If it’s a medical emergency it’s one thing, but please have your readers call their own doctor for their own medical concerns, and if you are not satisfied with your own doctor’s care, find another one.

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I’m not sure you have an answer as to how I decline from giving advice or examining someone without appearing uncaring.

I’M NOT ON CALL NOW

A. I can imagine how challenging it would be to be a physician and to be frequently approached for medical advice.

The pandemic has unleashed a lot of anxiety regarding health. People are also forgoing some routine doctor visits and testing because of a lack of access.

A personal triage system might work for you. Yes, you will always respond to medical emergencies; for non-emergency queries you could respond, “It’s always best to see your own doctor.”


Q. “Dyeing for Change in CA” claimed her husband would be a “silver fox” if he stopped dyeing his hair.

I’m surprised you didn’t ask the wife if she dyes HER hair. She insists her husband let his hair go natural, but does she do the same?

WONDERING

A. This wife didn’t seem opposed to hair dyeing but thought her husband would look better if he went natural. I hope they discuss it.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@amydickinson.com.