They’ve started in Britain. By “they” I mean both the NHS, which is vaccinating live human beings against COVID-19, and the conspiracy theorists, who are spreading their ideas as quickly as they can.
They’ve also started here, and by “here” I mean my county, which has been one of the hottest zones for coronavirus transmission in the United States since the beginning. I got COVID in a restaurant here in March, and conditions are far worse now than they were then.
The vaccine is a big topic of conversation at my work, where over a quarter of the staff have PhDs and where we have been under mandatory work-from-home orders for nine months. We’re futurists and we’re FOR IT!
What I’m trying to figure out is how to bridge the gap between my science-minded colleagues and my... regular friends.
Obviously I’m in love with the vaccine mission. I’ll get it as soon as I’m able. I don’t care, stick it in both my arms at once. I just don’t know how to translate my enthusiasm to other women.
Why are women so vaccine-hesitant? Probably because doctors never listen to us?
Things are going to happen. There are ten million people in my county, and this vaccine, like many others, is going to need a booster. Assuming every single vial is administered to someone, that’s twenty million vaccine vials just for us.
Unfortunately, things can happen in the supply chain, just like they do with everything from potato chips to donor organs. It’s unlikely that every single precious little vial is going to make it from manufacturer to person’s immune system with nothing getting dropped, delayed, lost on a shipping dock, or whatever.
What I’m worried about most of all is how bad things are in our local hospitals. The same people we are going to need to administer our vaccines are the ones on the front lines, treating COVID deniers who disbelieve what is happening to them literally upon their dying breaths.
How are they even going to have time in the day to give out shots by spring of next year? Are they even going to still be with us?
From what I’ve read, the first groups of people to receive the vaccine have already been more or less decided. Obviously health care providers have to come first. No question there. Then it looks like nursing home staff and residents - which is only fair because about 40% of the deaths from COVID have arisen from the shockingly poor, shabby, desperately tragic job we have done protecting our seniors. Please, if nothing else, can’t that misery be stopped.
There has been interesting speculation on who gets dibs after that.
Diabetics? Teachers? Prisons - staff and residents?
Someone I know thinks young people should get it first. This person also recently recovered from COVID after an ill-advised multi-family trip in which every single person contracted full-blown COVID-19.
This person may have a point.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why certain people - like you, my dear readers - are careful to follow health directives, and why others - Those People - are not so careful. It’s got to be the messaging. Something about the way that people like me communicate with people like... Them... is setting them off and making them defiant. Or skeptical at the very least.
Let me state here that I am a contrarian by nature, not preference or attitude. It just seems to be that things I think are very clear rational choices, such as not owning a car, are outrageous and annoying to others. I try my best to keep the really big ones to myself, recognizing that many of my baseline opinions are unintentionally inflammatory. I don’t want to argue; I just want to continue to live my life without other people being shocked and horrified by the many non-standard elements of my lifestyle.
Another way to say this is, I’m not isolating because I’m a conformist. I’m isolating because I had direct personal experience with COVID, and it was one of the very worst things to ever happen to me, and it ruined my life.
Because of this, I find myself regularly defying other people’s requests to socialize.
I’m also astounded by the many justifications, defenses, and rationalizations I hear from people I had never realized would behave in those ways. It has made me far more skeptical about other people’s motives and basic value structures, how they calculate risk and how they make strategic decisions. Especially those that affect me and especially when they are actual matters of life and death.
I guess whether you are a skeptic or a contrarian or a nonconformist or not depends on who’s asking.
I get my shots, including my annual flu shot, for the same type of reason that I save so aggressively for retirement. The smartest people I know are doing it, and they can demonstrate that their strategy has worked for them.
On the other hand, the people I have talked to who are still traveling and socializing and defying local public health mandates? Are not getting such great results.
The person I’ve talked with most recently, the one who thinks that young people should get priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, had been traveling quite a bit in the previous months. That family wasn’t slowed down by travel restrictions whatsoever. And then they all got sick. In my mind that’s a straightforward QED.
It would be different if the coronavirus were more like chicken pox, in that getting sick actually made you immune. Instead it seems pretty clear that there will never be herd immunity through “natural” means, only through vaccination.
As a side note, whenever I hear “natural” now I think, “Nature’s way? You mean where the ill and infirm are shredded and eaten alive by top-tier predators? Or they crawl into the bushes and slowly die of starvation, alone and in pain?” Yay, nature.
I’m heading into the future, the proper Space Age, where immunization records will become as standard as passports and driver’s licenses. That’s a-okay with me. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t get here quick enough.
Now, what remains is to figure out how to communicate the appeal of this world to those who are more wary of it, for whatever reasons matter to them the most.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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