April 22, 2021

Peterson: A shot in the arm for the public’s welfare

It’s been a good week in our household.

Last Friday I got my second COVID-19 vaccine, and on Tuesday Deb was able to schedule her first one. We’re gradually getting closer to more social mobility without the concern of infecting someone else unknowingly, or repeating the seriously ill condition we were both in last November when we contracted the virus. (Deb still can’t taste or smell, which is a bummer.)

We did experience some flu-like side effects, which I’m told can be a little worse in people still carrying antibodies. The good thing is, those symptoms were short-lived and now we feel better protected.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky announced Wednesday that this week the nation will surpass 100 million people who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s a pretty remarkable feat in such a short period of time.

I think some of the early vaccine hesitancy we were hearing has subsided a bit, as those folks are noticing that we were inoculated without serious problems, and it’s a ticket toward a faster return to “normalcy.”

Walensky also said Tuesday that data from the CDC suggests vaccinated people do not carry the virus (unless, of course, they are among the 6 to 10 percent who end up not being protected against the virus).

I’m almost a little surprised in the public support behind this effort, because all along the fight against COVID-19 in the United States was as often a battle amongst ourselves as it was against this dangerous novel virus.

It’s not a political issue. It’s a survival issue. Just like other public health crisis situations that younger people may not be as familiar with. In 1960, you could not go to school without being vaccinated for smallpox and polio.

Some people remember the polio vaccine on a sugar cube. Thanks to widespread use of that vaccine, the United States has been polio-free since 1979. The smallpox campaign was so successful that the disease was globally eradicated by 1977.

We saw a spike in measles in more recent years as that vaccine began to lag in some circles, but for the most part this nation has been pretty good about protecting each other.

In line with this, I’d like to acknowledge the thousands of selfless Americans involved in volunteer positions during this campaign. There is no way to get more than 3 million shots in arms per day without those people, as well as those front line medical workers who have already had such a taxing year.

When I stood in line with other school employees last Friday and the nurse completed my vaccine, changing her gloves yet again and getting a new set of shots and Band-Aids ready for those behind me, I made sure to give her a very audible “Thank you!” before departing. Sometimes in life you kind of utter that phrase without meaning, but this time I could not have been more sincere.

Thank you, to all of you involved in any phase of medical care, pharmaceutical and PPE distribution or emergency response. The past 12 months have been an enormous burden for all of you and your families, I’m sure.

Despite the mixed messages and occasional blow back about public health measures, which is unfortunately politically driven in many instances, WE APPRECIATE YOU!

Let’s hope the next 12 months aren’t quite as stressful on those systems. In the meantime, try to be a good person and comply with requests for whatever protective measures are asked of you in particular businesses or public settings. Don’t lash out at some poor employees just trying to do their job, because we all don’t reach a comfort level at exactly the same time.

I now feel pretty safe to myself and others, but I will still mask up when requested, and keep my distance if it’s prescribed. It’s not really a hardship, or an offensive violation of my rights.

Getting through this together, rather than divided, is the best path back to what we all want.

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Contact the writer:

Email: malachy.lp@gmail.com

Twitter: @larrypeterson