Existential lesson of 2020: I’m not essential

Enjoy your Covid vaccines, everyone else

Jeffrey Denny
4 min readJan 3, 2021


Jeffrey Denny

Forget the Proud Boys and shameless Republicans who are fighting President Trump’s humiliating defeat:

The real political battle of 2021 has begun with arguing about who should get a Covid vaccine first and next and next and then next.

To keep the Covid vaccine peace, President Biden might have to declare “Marshall Law,” which is what MAGAs call martial law that they hope Trump will declare to reject the election and enforce his authoritarian rule. Like a Socialist dictator.

I myself won’t be rushing the line for a Covid vaccine. I’ll resist brutally trampling the weak or ailing like a gentleman demanding a lifeboat on the Titanic or amid the old Black Friday frenzy when doors opened at Walmart.

My respect for those needing Covid vaccines ahead of me is not, however, because I’m any gentleman, as anyone who knows me would be delighted to confirm.

It’s simply that from a Covid vaccine priority perspective, there’s nothing much essential about me, my wellness or survival. I have no purpose. No raison d’être. To humanity, I’m Raisin Bran without the plump juicy raisins in every bite, just Bran.

Forgive my wallowing in existential crisis. But don’t cry for me, vaccine-getters. I’ve constructed my entire life to avoid being essential because it comes with a lot of responsibility, often with very little money.

I’m not exaggerating my lack of essentiality.

Check out the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Covid shot allocation hierarchy. It’s based on recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an enormous independent panel of medical and public health experts.

(Not “a bunch of politicians and journalists,” as a Trumpy friend huffed that he saw on his media.)

The immunization panel set forth three top priorities in distributing the currently limited Covid vaccine:

1. Decrease death and serious disease as much as possible.

2. Preserve functioning of society.

3. Reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities.

None of this has anything to do with me.

First, there’s roughly a 0.00001% chance — like Trump’s odds to stay in the White House — that giving me a Covid vaccine will decrease death and serious disease.

While I have a virulently infectious personality, I’ve been around fewer people than most. Not just in 2020, but for the past decade I’ve been working for myself at home.

Also, I have curmudgeonly tendencies that keep me away from people and vice versa, win-win.

Second, absolutely nothing I do keeps society functioning. Some would suggest I’m actually disrupting, nay, destroying society with these Medium posts.

Third and worst, giving me an early Covid vaccine would not decrease but increase the extra burden on people already facing disparities.

As a straight white Western male, I’m the cause of disparities. I’d be taking a vaccine from a victim of my patriarchy.

The guilt would kill me before the Covid had a chance.

All to say, millions of Americans deservedly are ahead of me in line for a Covid vaccine.

Specifically, per the CDC:

1a: Healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents first.

Not me (I’m not smart or caring enough ), and not me yet.

1b: Frontline essential workers.

I’m not a firefighter, police officer, corrections officer, food and agricultural worker, United States Postal Service worker, manufacturing worker, grocery store worker, public transit worker or educator (teachers, support staff, and daycare workers.)

The 1b group also includes people 75 and older and at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from the Covid. Some mornings I feel like that but it passes by 9 am, or as I like to call it, “scotch hour.”

1c: Older people (65–74), anyone with underlying medical conditions, and non-1b essential workers.

Not me yet … not me yet … and still not me whatsoever.

I don’t work in non-frontline transportation or logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, IT, energy, law, communications, media, public safety or public health.

Ok, I do work in communications, but as a contractor or consultant — whatever sounds better on LinkedIn. And one of my clients is a housing finance company. But unlike their employees, clients might not notice if I stopped answering emails or getting on Zoom calls anymore, and I’ll be the first cut when the budget cleavers cleave the nonessential.

So, to everyone who is more essential than me, enjoy your life-saving Covid vaccines!

Don’t worry about me! I’ll be ok! Happy new year for you!

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.



Jeffrey Denny

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.