Better Later Than Never

I know I’ve been putting off getting my COVID vaccination for a while, but I’m finally getting my first dose. And so will my dad.

Yes, he’s in the demographic that would be vaccine hesitant (older, white, politically conservative)…but he’s also employed at a job that pays him well for what he does and it’s a job that he actually likes. His employer hasn’t begun requiring employees to get vaccinated yet, but they’ve been asking employees whether they have and are strongly encouraging employees to get vaccinated. He doesn’t want to risk getting fired later, so he has begrudgingly decided to get vaccinated. I offered to get vaccinated along with him, mostly for my own peace of mind, but also so he wouldn’t have to do it alone. Luckily, it’s still being offered for free regardless of insurance status, so even my uninsured self can get it.

So what we ended up doing was that we both set up appointments online to get it done at a local pharmacy. They would have taken walk-ins anyway, but things just flow much easier when you set up an appointment. Because we set our appointments up separately, we’re getting them done on different days. We’re getting ours on the same day of the week, but one week apart. He’s getting his first dose this week, while I’m getting mine next week.

I’ve been wanting to get vaccinated for a while now, but I didn’t quite know how to bring it up with my dad. So, in a way, his employer encouraging employees to get vaccinated was kind of a good thing. And hopefully us getting vaxxed will ease some of my sister-in-law’s concerns about us possibly bringing in COVID with three kids ages 5 and under (including a newborn). I don’t know if my brother and sister-in-law are getting or have gotten vaccinated (even though they both already had and recovered from COVID earlier this year; SIL may have to wait a little while anyway because she’s in the period where she’d be nursing, although her first two babies, I think, were formula fed). Given that none of their kids are currently old enough to get the COVID vaccine, it would be smart of them to get it and get that extra barrier of protection.

It’s still a Petri dish 🧫 down here, and the Delta variant has been rampaging its way through the South. My dad and I have been lucky to avoid contracting it thus far, mostly due to us being isolated for the most part (we don’t really go anywhere on weekends, when my dad is off from work), my dad’s job being at night and working with a small crew (and thus being away from large groups of people), and me masking up when I do go out to get groceries every couple of weeks. Even after being fully vaccinated, I still plan to mask up in those situations so I can do my part to avoid becoming a carrier of the virus. I can’t trust other people around me to be responsible human beings, but I can do everything I can to be responsible for myself.

The Delta variant has certainly put a damper on some activities, but I still keep wondering what we might be able to do once we’re fully vaxxed (which should be early October). TBH, I wouldn’t mind just the two of us going for a drive around the more rural areas (which is something he and my mom loved to do), maybe getting a bite to eat at a mom-and-pop restaurant or something. I haven’t left my home county in over a year, maybe a year and a half. It’s been ages since I’ve been to a restaurant…at least since before my mom’s condition worsened and left her increasingly homebound until her final decline early last year. I’d even be okay with eating outside and swatting flies if I have to.

I know there are some of you out there who may be hesitant to get vaccinated, and that’s okay. I’m not going to be judgmental to you about that. Trying to shame a person over their choices is just a bad idea all around.

I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about the vaccines and how they work in recent months, and ultimately I think the benefits far outweigh the risks. I have had a dislike of needles for many years and still can’t bear the sight of seeing a needle going into skin, but for me the fear of contracting COVID while unvaccinated is even worse. The vast majority of new cases and hospitalizations consist of unvaccinated people. A small fraction of cases (“breakthrough infections”) have been in vaccinated people, and an even smaller fraction have been hospitalized or died. While no vaccine is 100% effective, it’s clearly like the infectious disease equivalent of a condom: some protection, when used or taken properly, is better than no protection at all.

I could explain how the mRNA vaccines (the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines here in the U.S., the former of which has just gotten full approval from the FDA rather than just for emergency use) actually work, but this Twitter thread actually did a pretty effective job of it. Here is the first tweet in the thread.

(There is also a TED-Ed video on YouTube that explains the whole process in less than 5 minutes, which can be seen here.)

This whole pandemic has affected humanity in ways we haven’t seen since maybe the 1918 Flu pandemic or even the Black Death (bubonic plague) in the 1300s. I’m pretty sure each of us has known somebody who has either contracted the disease or even died from it, if we haven’t contracted it ourselves. I could go on and on about how the irresponsible behavior of people has made this even worse than it could have been, but it would be futile. The fact of the matter is that 38 million people in this country (a little over 10% of our population) have caught the virus, and 631,000 have died from it. My brother and sister-in-law were two of the 38 million, and my sister-in-law’s grandmother was one of the 631,000. My brother and sister-in-law both fall into the category of white and conservative, the same demographic that have typically been vaccine-hesitant. But my sister-in-law would probably also give anything to have just a little more time with her grandmother.

To try and convince everyone around me to get the vaccine would be an effort mostly in vain, but I can take action for myself. And I’m glad my dad’s taking action for himself, too, even if the motivations are different from emotional appeal.

Better later than never, I guess.

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