There’s a very good chance that you, loyal reader, won’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 for a couple of months, or maybe longer. My advice is to take a deep breath and accept it.

We have reached the beginning of the end of this pandemic but there’s a long, difficult road still to travel and it won’t help to raise our stress levels unnecessarily. Don’t fixate too much on the schedules released at Sununu’s press briefings, or get antsy because your lamebrain brother-in-law is ahead of you in line for a shot, or badger your doctor’s office for details.

As I write this there is no good way to figure out when you will be eligible for a vaccine aside from waiting for the Monitor and others to tell you, or constantly refreshing the state’s COVID website.

We’re in the midst of Phase 1A of the rollout and vaccines have been given to somewhere around half of the roughly 110,000 eligible first responders, front-line health workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Next in line are people over 75; the medically vulnerable; people at facilities for the disabled; and officers and staff (but not inmates) at jails and prisons. You can see the whole  list, with more details at our  COVID-19 page.

That phase, which involves almost a quarter-million people, hasn’t started yet and estimates are that it will last through March. After that comes school staff and teachers and those ages 65 to 75, but who knows when that phase, which will include me, begins. My guess is I won’t have any chance at a vaccine until long after town meeting season, but my guess isn’t worth much since the supply depends upon so many variables out of our control.

It is very unlikely that vaccination levels will get us anywhere near herd immunity levels in New Hampshire before mid-summer, at the earliest.

The good news, and it is very good news indeed, is that both the vaccines which the U.S. has approved as well as a third one OK’d in Europe appear to be at least 90% effective after two doses, and immunity remains strong for at least eight months with all indications that it will last for years. The uncertain news is that we don’t have good data about whether vaccination prevents you from spreading the virus to others. And the bad news, of course, is that COVID-19 mutations are already appearing which make it more contagious, if not more dangerous.

As I said, we have a long, dark road ahead of us and we need to do everything we can to get through it – which includes, as you well know, wearing masks and social isolating and not gathering together in groups. The end isn’t near but at least we now know that there will be an end.

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