Vax or No Vax, That Is The Question

So I had my second dose of the vax this week. Now in two more weeks I’ll be added to the ranks of the fully vaccinated. I have many mixed feelings about this.

Do I think the vax is dangerous to my health or a left-wing conspiracy to control us all (a.k.a. do I believe the far-right alternative news nutjobs)? No. My understanding of the medication development process is that what usually holds things up is lack of funding, not piles of regulations. Because of the public health nature of COVID, funding was no problem in this case and that is why it was done so fast, not because regulations and safety protocols were ignored or loosened. Vaccinations for all kinds of things have saved thousands, if not millions, of people around the world despite what anti-vaxers would want you to believe. I am old enough to have known relatives who had polio during the nearly annual polio epidemics of the early to mid 1900s. Now, polio is considered a thing of the past due to mass vaccination for it. Would I say vaccines are absolutely safe? No. Everything has risks. Driving or riding in a motor vehicle is the most dangerous thing almost anyone does on a daily basis, far more likely to injure or kill you than a vaccination but no one is shouting for a ban on cars, trucks, and buses or saying people are crazy for putting their kids in them. I don’t think vaxes are as dangerous as some think they are.

Do I think the vax is the “answer” to the pandemic (a.k.a. do I believe the mainstream media propaganda that once 70+% of us are vaxed—herd immunity reached—that all the restrictions will be a distant memory)? No. I think the new strains we are seeing are giving us a clear message about how effective vaxing will be. I think we are trying to outrun an avalanche. Like the common cold, I think it will mutate too fast for vaxing to be super effective. Best case, we’ll need annual COVID shots much like we are encouraged to get annual flu shots. Worst case, new strains will be resistant to current vaxes and we’ll be stuck in a cycle of pandemic shut downs periodically.

Do I think the vax will put an end to all the changes that have happened in the past year due to COVID-19? No. I have pretty much lost any hope of life ever being the way it was before March 2020. Life changes and you just have to roll with it. These changes have happened at a speed that required us to adjust faster than we would have liked and it has left us cranky. I honestly don’t think I am ever going to be able to sit in a coffee shop in the evenings (and some of them not at any time of day) to work again (a home office does NOT work for me for writing and studying). I just don’t think they will ever be open again past 7:00pm because the forced closures have left places with staffing problems, financial problems, and lack of customers. I spend hours every week sitting in my minivan studying by headlamp and streetlight with blue toes and no bathroom while my daughter is at various evening activities because there is no where else to go to wait. I am tired of having to eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers and fries precariously balanced on my lap in my van. However, I don’t see these things changing any day soon, vax or no vax.

I’m not pinning my hopes on it, but I don’t think it is total B.S. either, so I got the vax.

The Truth Behind My Mask

Me with my mask

This morning I donned my mask and headed to the grocery store. For me, wearing a mask isn’t a simple straight forward thing of the CDC recommends it to help protect against spreading COVID-19 so I do it. No, with me, many things often involve a lot more psychological wrestling than they should.

You see, deciding to wear a mask or not exposes deeply rooted tendencies I’d rather not have. In particular, I want people to not judge me. Therefore, I want to know how many other people are going to be wearing masks so I can make the choice that will put me in the majority so I don’t look like the odd man out. I’m the odd man out enough as it is; I don’t need to be deliberately doing things that will make it worse. The problem with mask-wearing is I really can’t win. I live in exurbia, close enough to a major metropolitan area for commuting to work there but out past the immediate suburbs, where the culture is smalltown. This means mask-wearing is about 50/50—half of the people do and half don’t. So, if I opt to wear a mask, I’m going to have about half of the people I see at the store looking at me and thinking, “Oh, you’re one of those paranoid people.” But, if I don’t wear a mask, the other half of the people I encounter are going to be thinking, “How can you be so irresponsible!?!? You’re endangering us all!” I can’t win.

I wouldn’t have this problem if I didn’t have mixed feelings about the mask recommendation myself. If I firmly believed masks were going to be a major game changer in this pandemic, it wouldn’t bother me to wear one, even if it made people think I’m paranoid. If I firmly believed masks were worthless as a prevention strategy, it wouldn’t bother me to go without one, even if it made people think I’m a public health menace. However, I don’t believe either of those things wholeheartedly. Yes, masks probably make us somewhat safER, particularly if the majority of people use them. But, they don’t make us safe. Life is not safe. On the other hand, I understand the fear of getting sick many are experiencing right now, even if I don’t share that fear myself. For me, if I get sick, I get sick. It’s just not a worry I have. It’s okay if you do worry about getting sick and I don’t; I’m not right and you’re not wrong. It’s just a different perspective. I don’t want to increase your worry for yourself and your family though by refusing to do something simple that is not risking harm to me just because I don’t have the same concerns.