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It’s Just a Shot Away

Updated: Jan 22

A Poem by Dr. Barry Lubetkin


The author received a Moderna vaccine at a Manhattan clinic on January 9

"Mmm, a flood is threatening


My very life today


Gimme, gimme shelter


Or I'm gonna fade away


War, children


It's just a shot away


It's just a shot away"

—“Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones



I’m haunted by images of people

riven by pain and sadness

Exhausted migrants pleading

For asylum at chained borders.


Terrified Jews in Berlin

Clutching tattered papers

To trade for Swedish visas

For escape and life.


Black Americans queuing to vote, angry but doubtful,

That their ID is enough,

And they won’t be turned away


And now


My neighbors, my friends

All those whom I love,

Driven in a frantic frenzy

To find a place, any place,

Where an angel

Can jab their arm with liquid future.


An internet of chaos,

“No Appointments” it screams,

You are eligible if 1A,1B,1C

“No Appointments” it screams

Be 75, be 65, be essential,

“No Appointments” it screams,

Be high risk, be frightened,

Be poor, be rich, be raging,

“No goddamn appointments.”


Covid anxiety paralyzes us.

“Who is cutting the line?”

“Can I buy it privately?”

“Can I trade places with you?”

“Will one dose be enough?”

“A tip where to find it. Please”

“I must find it. I don’t want to die”


Why did they lie to us?

Why did they refuse to reorder?

Why did our scientists stall?

Why did they wait so long?

Why did the monster promise us a “miracle” and leave us hollowed out with fear?


But we will live to tell the story.

We will mask. We will distance. We will wash.

We will struggle to be patient.

We will believe kindness,

knowledge and action will once again inhabit the White House.

But behind our masks we will weep for the 400,000 we leave behind.



Barry Lubetkin, Ph.D. is the co-director and co-founder of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in New York City. He is the author of numerous academic and popular articles, as well as two popular self-help books, Bailing Out and Why Do I Need You to Love Me in Order to Like Myself. The Institute for Behavior Therapy is the oldest private cognitive behavior center in the United States.

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