By BEN R. WILLIAMS
On April 1, 2021, I got my second dose of the COVID vaccine.
Two months later, I am happy to report that I have not died, nor has the vaccine altered my DNA and transformed me into an abhuman monster (although some might argue I was halfway there to begin with).
I would say that I don’t feel any different now that I’m fully vaccinated, but that’s not entirely true. Physically, I feel exactly the same. Mentally and emotionally, however, I’m in a much better place.
Now that the majority of my loved ones are fully vaccinated and I have a double-shot of the Moderna Special running through my veins, I’ve slowly started doing normal stuff again. It still feels weird eating inside a restaurant, but I’ve done it a handful of times. I’ve gone to gatherings and seen friends. I’ve hugged people! It’s been pretty fantastic.
This isn’t to say I’ve thrown my masks away. I anticipate that I’ll still be wearing one in grocery stores and at large gatherings, partly because this is the first year I can remember that I didn’t catch some horrible bug during the winter months.
Believe it or not, there are a few things I’ll miss about sheltering in place. I’ll miss saving a ton of money on gas. I’ll miss having a great excuse to weasel out of doing stuff. I’ll especially miss going days at a time without putting on real pants (rest easy, bourbon-themed sleep pants; you’ve done yeoman’s work).
On the other hand, I might actually get to see my long-delayed Blue Öyster Cult concert at The Harvester this September. Soon I’ll finally be able to attend a pinball tournament and lose horribly. Plus, I no longer have to worry as much about dying a painful and protracted death due to the Coronavirus, which is also cool. I think it all evens out.
Yes, I’m excited about the slow return to normalcy.
I just hope it continues.
According to recent CDC statistics, nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus, and about 60 percent of adults have received their first dose.
While those are good numbers, we don’t know what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity. I’ve heard anywhere from 70-90 percent vaccination will be necessary to reach that point. While 70 percent seems doable, 90 percent may not be possible — or at least, we may get there via infection rather than by vaccination.
The problem is that we’re eventually going to reach a point, sooner rather than later, when everybody who wants to get vaccinated has been vaccinated, and we’re definitely going to have a bunch of vaccines left over.
I realize that there are many out there who say, “Well, it’s my choice whether I want to get the vaccine or not. If I catch COVID, you’re already vaccinated, so what do you care?”
Part of me is tempted to say, as I have said in the past, that I truly don’t care anymore. Which is largely true. However, I do care about people who are immunocompromised and legitimately cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons. When healthy folks choose not to get the vaccine, they’re making also making that decision for the immunocompromised, and it’s a terrible one.
Additionally, we don’t yet know how long the vaccine will last and whether or not booster shots will be necessary. I tend to think that it will eventually become normal to get an annual COVID shot at the same time as a flu shot, but at this point, we just don’t know. And if the vaccine does end up losing efficacy as time passes, every unvaccinated person out there will be making the situation just a little bit worse for everyone.
One thing I know for certain is that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better.
I was stunned when the CDC announced on May 13 that vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks in most indoor locations (except hospitals, public transit, and a handful of others). Apparently someone at the CDC thinks people are fundamentally good and honest at heart, which recent events have proven is demonstrably untrue. Obviously, the same people who refused to wear masks throughout this whole ordeal except under duress are going to continue not wearing masks, only now they’ll falsely claim that they’re vaccinated. Obviously, this is going to result in an increase in infections and deaths. Obviously, the CDC sent the signal to many that the pandemic is finally over and we’ve beaten this thing.
Unfortunately, we haven’t.
As of now, COVID cases are at the lowest levels we’ve seen in months, but the war isn’t over. The U.S. is still recording about 24,000 cases daily and about 500 deaths per day. If we had a war with the Martians and they went from killing 2,000 U.S. citizens per day to 500 per day, we would not resume business as usual and announce a decisive victory over the Martians.
While our situation is improving, we’re not out of the woods yet. I’m enjoying the slow return to normalcy, and I’m sure you are too. And so, if you’re talking to an anti-vaxxer friend, I encourage you to gently remind them that the sooner they get vaccinated, the sooner life will return to normal.
Also, I firmly believe that throwing this article into someone’s face constitutes a gentle reminder.