Yesterday was a big day: John got his second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination from SURA, our Colombian healthcare provider. “So tell us, John, how does it feel to be fully vaccinated?” His one-word answer: RELIEVED. For one of us, at least, that pretty much sums it up. Relief that he has less of a chance of catch COVID from some moron who thinks mask-wearing is for snowflakes. Relief that he can enter a crowded public place with less risk of infection. Relief that he might have less of a chance of inadvertently spreading it to someone else. And relief that he’s done his part to help Colombia advance its COVID-19 vaccination program, which has gotten off to a pitifully slow start.

I had hoped to have at least one dose by now, but since I’m a few years younger than John, my age group only became eligible last week. We’re supposed to wait until our provider calls us for a cita (appointment), but it hasn’t happened for me yet. One of the things we appreciate about SURA is that it’s extremely button-up. No cita, no jab. It means I couldn’t sweet-talk my way into a first shot yesterday, but it also shows that they’re being extremely conscientious and fair, ensuring that there’s enough second doses to go around. Can’t fault them at all.

COVID-19 vaccination in Colombia
The well-organized outdoor vaccination clinic at Comfama/SURA in Rionegro
COVD-19 vaccination in Colombia
Getting registered
COVD-19 vaccination in Colombia
COVD-19 vaccination in Colombia

Now it’s time to get on my soapbox. It’s ridiculous that there continues to be a critical shortage of COVID-19 vaccine available in Colombia and in other countries that aren’t “rich” by North American standards. Meanwhile, we keep hearing stories about how providers in the U.S. are offering all kinds of incentives to people to come get a shot – donuts, beers, even cash. And states are starting to turn away doses because there isn’t enough demand. It’s outrageous that people who have the chance to be fully protected from COVID – to get their FREEDOM, for heaven’s sake – are refusing the jab. It makes no sense.

I’m luckier than most. We’re headed for Austin, Texas on Friday and I’ll be able to snag a shot while we’re there (I’m hoping for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson). I feel profoundly grateful to have that option, and my heart goes out to all the folks here who can’t travel to another country and who remain at the mercy of the incredibly inequitable global system. The only consolation I have is that I won’t be taking any precious doses here that could go to someone else.

Let’s hope things improve soon.


On another note, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the civil unrest that’s been taking place in Colombia for over a week now. For all of you who have reached out to us worriedly, we say THANK YOU and we appreciate your concern – but we’re fine. All is peaceful and calm here in our little burg of El Retiro.

The protest movement here is very complex and the issues are large and serious, but we feel the situation has been overblown by the global media. Yes, there has been violence, vandalism, and police brutality. But, just as with the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S., the protests themselves have been overwhelmingly peaceful and the demonstrators are simply looking for a more equitable world for themselves and their families. Stories that don’t make the news: the majority of protestors who honor and respect the police, and the many examples of police officers who extend kindness and support to protesters. The government and the leaders of the labor movement are meeting this week to start working on solutions. In many ways, it’s been gratifying to watch, and it shows what a strong democracy Colombia has.

Have a peaceful week, everyone, and get your jab if you can!!


  1. Good to hear the vax situation is getting resolved. We’ve heard of a few Colombianos traveling to the U.S. for a shot, a J&J, I assume. Too bad our guvmint can’t send drugs to Colombia. They sent us drugs for years! Kidding, but there should be some quid pro quo for the U.S.’s active part in keeping that cocaine pipeline open all those years—and still. Have a great Austin trip, hug your momma, and I hope you get shot there. Ever think we’d hope for that?

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Jaja, you gave me the LOL I needed today! Let’s hope I get shot in Austin, too – at least, by a needle! Hugs to you both.

  2. Well done for having the vaccine John. Even when we are fully vaccinated in Australia we still won’t be allowed to travel overseas! Our borders are to remain shut until next year because apparently you can still catch it even when fully vaccinated! I live in hope

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Alison! No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but the percentage of people who have caught COVID after the Pfizer vaccine is very, very small. Keeping borders closed until next year seems extreme, but then you have countries like the US who have had virtually no restrictions at all and have lost a staggering amount of lives. We commend Australia for erring on the side of caution. It must be tough, though. Hang in there – all will be better!

      • Thanks both of you, hope for the best, in the meantime we are exploring the rest of Australia

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          Lots to see in that amazing country! We so look forward to visiting someday 🙂

  3. Mike Potts Reply

    Careful. John CAN still get infected with covid and CAN still spread the virus after innoculation. The vaccine reduces his chances of getting infected and limits the severity of the disease should he, in fact, get infected. However, he can get and spread the virus although he may not experience any symptoms. Still a very good thing that he got the vaccine!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Of course. We’re well aware of those risks and will continue to take all precautions around other people. Pfizer is 91.5% effective against asymptomatic infection, though, including the UK and other variants. So the risk of John getting it is minuscule, especially two weeks out from his second dose. Good to hear from you, Mike – hope you’re well.

  4. Wonderful that John got two doses. Here in Canada everyone is getting one dose before they start giving second doses. The thinking is that with one dose, while you may get COVID, it will likely be a mild case therefore reducing the strain on health care system. Who knows what the best strategy is? We’re still under strict travel restrictions here. Have a good trip back to Texas. Stay safe!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Caroline. I think a lot of countries are adopting that strategy, to give everyone the first dose now. I think there’s some wisdom in that. Here’s hoping you get your jab soon!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Gracias, Henry – abrazos a ti 🙂

  5. Congratulations, John, on being fully-vaccinated. I know that this will happen for you soon, Susan.
    I have had my first dose (Astrazenica) last month. Most Canadians are not offered their second dose until four months after their first. So, I should have my second dose sometime in late summer. I will patiently (and safely) wait my turn.
    I’m glad to hear that the situation in Columbia is getting resolved and you are both safe.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Donna! I’ve actually heard (not sure which vax it is, but maybe it’s true for all of them) that a longer wait between doses actually gives you more protection. Glad you’ve gotten your first. Take care 🙂

  6. Nancy Klein Reply

    Hello Susan. Glad to hear John is fully vaccinated! I got my first jab here in Spain last week and my husband who is two years older is scheduled to get both jabs of Pfizer in the next few weeks. I was given AstraZeneca, though, and don’t except the second shot for 11 more weeks! So no travel for us until August, unfortunately. We haven’t been with our children for over 16 months and that’s hard. However, as we both know, things are a lot worse for others around the world. Like you, I an troubled by the inequity of vaccine distribution around the world and am deeply troubled by the many Americans who refuse to be vaccinated!

    • Great that you’ll both be vaccinated soon – same here, we’re both between jabs but second dose is coming in 3 weeks or so. Interesting reading about the unrest in Colombia, in particular how it’s been reported. As a pretty relaxed (well, relaxed now I’m retired) individual, not much makes me angry these days, but the media repeatedly succeeds in doing exactly that. I detest the way the truth is distorted to manipulate public opinion and find myself shouting insults at the morons paid to deliver drivel on the TV screen! Another great reason to be craving travel – lockdown breeds too much screen watching! Still, at least we haven’t had any world leading politicians spreading mistruths ……. oh hang on…..

      • John and Susan Pazera Reply

        Hello to both Hungry Travelers! Boy, you are preaching to the choir about the media. As an ex-journalist with a journalism degree, I have a soft spot for the press – but not the big corporate-controlled media outlets with their own agenda. And it seems every day that more and more corrupt heads of state pop up to wreak mayhem – that’s certainly true in South America. Sigh – I don’t know where the world is headed. But glad you’re getting vaccinated and staying safe. All we can do is hope for better days!
        – Susan

        • I used to have great respect for the British media (after all, we too have family connections with the Press) but pre-COVID it was waning, then the lamentable misinformation spread during the pandemic has finished me off. Yep, we can only hope for better days…

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Nancy – just realized I never replied to your lovely comment! Glad you both are getting vaccinated. I’ve actually heard that some of the vaxes (maybe all) are more effective if there’s a longer time between shots, so that’s the silver lining there. I can imagine you’re dying to see your kids – we’ve finally gotten to see my mom after well over a year. it’s been interesting experiencing the pandemic on the other side, here in Austin, where we’ve been for almost two weeks. Take care and be well!

  7. I had to quit watching the news because I just don’t feel that there is any kind of journalistic integrity anymore. Everything on the media is twisted and shaded to fit one agenda or another. I was suppose to get the Johnson vaccine but they ended up stopping that one where I am for the time being. When I went in for my first Mederna vaccine they said it was probably good I didn’t get the Johnson one because I have a medication allergy and I probably would have had a severe reaction to the vaccine. I don’t know if that was just me or a universal caution, but something to be aware of. Sending thoughts and prayers for your continued safety and well being.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Preaching to the choir about the media – it’s so hard to separate fact from fiction. I’m clinging to my mainstays – the Washington Post and the New York Times – for now. I’m almost two weeks out from my J&J jab, and so far so good. But it’s always best to choose the vax that makes the most sense for you. Thank you for your kind thoughts!

  8. I’m on that soapbox with you re those people who won’t get vaccinated. I saw a cartoon of the back of a huge person wearing a shirt saying anti-vaxxers sitting on an an enormous ball. The chain attached to the ball was being dragged slowly and painfully and impossibly towards a sign in the distance saying herd immunity. Heart breaking. Don and I have had one each Pfizer for him, Moderna for me and we now have to wait several weeks for the second. Canada has been having trouble getting enough (though now Biden has more than reached his goal he’s sending more to us) so the plan has to been to get everyone at least their first shot. There are anti-vaxxers here too 🙁
    I’ve read that the 18-35 yr olds (in the US I think, can’t remember) are waiting to see if it’s safe. SMH.
    Re the unrest – the media always blow trouble out of proportion don’t they.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Alison! I think I saw that cartoon – it really says it all. We’ve been in Austin for almost two weeks and I was able to get J&J my first day here. It was unreal how easy it was to get, after being so used to the shortages in Colombia. Glad you and Don are getting vaccinated, and I think the silver lining about the longer wait between shots is that they might be even more effective that way (at least, I think I read that). Wishing the best for both of you!

  9. Congratulations John on getting the vaccine. Like you have said getting vaccinated feels like the right thing to do to protect yourself and others. I don’t understand people who are against getting the jab( unless they have a good reason). I hope the civil unrest will resolve soon.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Gilda! Hope you two are well – we’ve been enjoying your Facebook pictures of your latest travels 🙂

  10. It’s good that John has got his second dose and you’ll get yours soon, Susan. I don’t know when I’ll get mine, but my office has been looking for ways to get its employees vaccinated. The government is still focusing on inoculating the elderly though, so I guess I’ll just have to wait a little longer.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Bama – hope you’re able to get jabbed soon. It’s really concerning how so many parts of the world, ours included, are lagging behind on vaccination because of the inequitable distribution. I think it means the world will be dealing with Covid in various forms for a long time. Let’s just hope the world learns some things from this, becuase there WILL be another virus. Take care and hang in there!
      – Susan

  11. It is a huge relief! I cried so hard out of joy. It was embarrassing. Lol. I’m I’ve the a holes here in the states who won’t get it. I just want to slap them updated the head.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Pam – preaching to the choir about the anti-vaxxers. I just don’t get it. We have been in the states for almost two weeks, and it’s astounding to see how lax things are here compared to Colombia. it doesn’t help that we’re in Texas with a moron governor who is actually penalizing organizations now for requiring people to wear masks. I just have no words for that. But my bright spot is that I got J&J almost two weeks ago. And I now what you mean about crying for joy. It was a tremendous relief to know that I have some protection now and I’m doing my part. I wish more people here saw it that way.

  12. Congrats on getting the jab! I felt TERRIBLE after my first Pfizer shot, but I was good to go after my second. Hope you are doing well and feeling well!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks for your comment! John actually didn’t feel any side effects except for a small headache after the first one. Everyone’s different, I guess. Glad you’re feeling good to go!

  13. Your post is a real motivation for people all around to get vaccinated. Thanks for sharing this informative blog and it certainly served the purpose to create awareness among the masses. It’s also nice to learn that vaccines which were falsely termed as unbearable with certain threats in the beginning are been awaited.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks for your comment! We really hope our example will help encourage vaccination in some small way. In the meantime, I (Susan) have gotten my Johnson and Johnson. It’s so freeing to know we’re protected!

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