How weird is it that two of the three college friends I’m still close to today also have October birthdays? Statistically, I mean. Anyway, all three have turned 77. I won’t get there until Halloween, which is fine with me. One of my besties, Robin, is sending ominous text messages. I quote: “Tick, tick, tick…”
If you, like me, go to your local CVS or Walgreens for shots, you may have been told there’s a new pneumonia vaccine. When I went in for my annual flu shot and COVID booster last month, the young man who stuck me was set on giving me the new pneumonia shot as well. I told him I was pretty sure I’d already had the older two-shot vaccine. It wasn’t on my Walgreens record, but that’s because I got them at my doctor’s office. Nevertheless he persisted: you should get the new shot anyway, he said. I told him I’d wait until I talked to my doctor, whom I’d be seeing in early October.
Which I did, and she told me the deal with the new pneumonia vaccine is that it’s just one shot vice two, and that if I’ve had the older two-shot vaccine already there’s no need to get the new one. She also confirmed that, as I thought, I’d gotten both shots.
I wouldn’t be passing this on if I hadn’t heard it from my doctor. Nor would I had not the physician assistant at Walgreens been spreading misinformation about the new pneumonia shot.
Related: shot records. I still have the yellow passport-sized vaccination record I kept in a flight suit pocket for 24 years. Everything the Air Force stuck into my body during that time is there. But what about all the shots I’ve had since retiring? I think Walgreens lets my doctor know what shots I get there, but as I learned with the pneumonia shot, information doesn’t flow both ways. All Walgreens knows is what it’s given me. It’s kind of up to me to let Walgreens know what shots I get elsewhere, and the day will come when I can no longer remember.
And what about COVID boosters? The PA at Walgreens updated my COVID vaccination/booster card last month, but friends who’ve also gotten the new booster tell me cards are no longer updated nor necessary. How is that? Not everyone has a doctor. Who keeps their shot records? Do they even have records?
Maybe I’m overthinking it, but I worry our shot & vaccination record-keeping system isn’t what it ought to be.
Here’s the Better Late than Never part of the post, which should be a stand-alone Air-Minded post but I don’t think there’s enough here to justify it, so I’m mixing aviation stuff in with personal stuff.
The Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk is the advanced pilot training aircraft meant to replace the USAF’s T-38 Talon trainer. The newest Talons were built in 1972, and the ones still in use at USAF pilot training bases have had their wings strengthened and replaced multiple times. Hell, the ones I flew as a student pilot in 1975 had already had their wings rebuilt.
Boeing built two T-7 prototypes in 2016. Pre-production test aircraft were to immediately follow, and by now 300-some production T-7As should have replaced all the T-38s at pilot training bases. But there were developmental glitches with flight characteristics, plus potential crew safety hazards in the event of ejection, and it’s only now that pre-production aircraft are beginning to come off the line at the St. Louis factory. The T-7 in the photo, above, is the first one and was actually built back in April. It’s been flown by USAF and contractor test pilots assigned to Boeing in St. Louis. It’s finally being turned over to the Air Force, and a new team of USAF test pilots who’ll put it (and another four T-7s due to follow over the next couple of months) through a formal test program at Edwards AFB.
I have no idea when pilot training bases will start receiving actual production T-7s. 2027, maybe? The USAF also wants to buy another version of the T-7 to use as an advanced tactical trainer, possibly a version with radar, hard points for external fuel tanks and weapons, and air refueling capablilty, these to be used by operational fighter and bomber units to better prepare newly-assigned pilots in the missions and aircraft they’ll be flying, and that doesn’t count the hundreds of T-7s Boeing hopes to sell overseas … just as, once, Northrup followed up on the T-38 trainers it built for the USAF with a combat-capable fighter version, the F-5 Tiger, sold all over the world and still widely used today.