I spent 27 of my years as a nurse practitioner working with the homeless and we would give flu shots in the shelters and on the street corners and anywhere we could. We had two struggles there. One was getting access to enough vaccine and the other was convincing people that they weren't going to get the flu from getting the vaccine. But we were talking about hundreds of people at a time. And that, that was incredibly stressful. It was incredibly difficult to do. It was, you know, the logistics, everything around it. So I can't imagine having to do mass immunizations on the grand scale of millions and millions and millions of people.
Well I say that this is a synthetic vaccine, that there is no flu in the vaccine. There is no live vaccine. Okay, live virus. However, when you do get a vaccine, it ramps up your immune system and we happen to give them at a time of year when there are many other viruses going around in the community. And that it's very common when your immune system is revved up, that it may not be as strong as it normally is to prevent you getting infected by a simple cold. And so they're very often at the same time a year.
And then the other thing was is that as you get vaccinated, it takes a while for you to get immunity. It's not going to prevent you - and this was a hard one - this is, it's not going to prevent you from getting the flu, it would prevent you potentially prevents you from getting very sick from the flu. Which is what exactly I think is the same line that they'll be using for the COVID vaccine.
And it, it just took repetition, but what really made it work was the relationship that at least my homeless patients had with me. It's like, it has to be coming from someone of trust. And I find it much harder to get a vaccine from a pharmacist at Walgreens than I did from my coworkers in the employee health clinic. So the delivery is part of it I think.
When I saw the makeup and the background of the panel that the FDA put together, I was impressed. I felt safe. They all had the right credentials and the right questions. I mean, I've only read a few of the transcripts but just knowing that those people were the ones that were making the recommendations really gave me a boost as well.
A situation that just happened recently is one of my friends is a nurse in the emergency room and she had called me for an occupational exposure question. And said that recently there had been staff, a cluster of staff, nurses who she had worked with for the four days previous who had come down with COVID positive and had some symptoms.
And she said, but I'm having some friends over into my garden tomorrow for lunch. And don't you think it'd be okay if they came, if they brought their own food? And I was aghast. I was aghast in that she would even ask that. And she said that her colleagues, none of her colleagues felt like it was a problem.
The number has gone up to I think 11 workers out of the 500 that they were testing in that emergency room. And she said, she's getting a vaccine in a couple of days, but she wasn't sure. So we went through that process of why not? And then she says, and she's going to LA next week to visit her parents.
And I said, you're a frontline emergency room nurse in a high risk hospital with multiple patients. You've recently been exposed to 11 coworkers who are infected. Why are you driving to LA, which is one of the highest incidents areas to see elderly parents? You are a nurse. You need to - you're the expert among your friends, your family. They're not going to question you.
And I was shocked. I could not believe that that was her plan. And I just had to shake my head, you know, I'm, I'm listening to the cries from the people who are at risk, yet they're not necessarily following the protocols. So that was very frustrating for me to hear.
After that, they had talked to the director of public health for the state of New Jersey who said that she would be receiving a hundred thousand doses for the state initially, should this go through which meant 50,000 people would become vaccinated. And she said they too did a poll for the state workers. 60% of physicians and 40% of nurses were willing to consider it. And I was trying to get at what the other 60%, why the 60% were not there. And she didn't have, you know, the director of public health didn't have the answers and neither did this nurse. She just said, I don't know.
We have friends, one of Drew's dear friends in New Zealand. And so we're Facebook friends and they are back to normal. They are having their family gatherings. They're going on vacation and camping together. They're eating together and having birthday parties. And that was pretty quick. I mean, Jacinda did an amazing job there, but it's also a different culture where they all support the country and each other. Even though there's the gangs and the anger and hatred amongst classes, et cetera, there was a certain commitment as a nation to, to get this under- they followed the rules, they followed the guidance of the administration and they have their lives back.