“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”
As of this writing, just over half of the eligible US population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While “fully” is a moving target — there’s talk of an additional booster shot being recommended not that far down the road — it’s both heartening and saddening that a full half of the population of these “United States” has left so many of us, including our children who cannot as of yet be vaccinated, vulnerable to a virus that’s proven to be both lethal and pernicious.
And we may as well face facts: we’re going to be dealing with COVID for the long haul. The virus isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
With the FDA just having given full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, I’m hopeful that many more will take the plunge and get a jab. With that approval, maybe the vaccine will become just one of the many mandated vaccines that must be taken before kids can start school, for example.
Maybe businesses like restaurants, movie theaters, and sports / concert venues will require the vaccine before allowing entry. Without that requirement, I won’t be going to any of them.
And maybe, we fully inoculated folks can display a little patience when trying to convince our vaccine-hesitant friends and loved ones to take the plunge. I was one of them just a few months ago.
I’ll confess to having been thankful that, when the vaccines were first announced last winter, I was too young to jump in line. (I can’t remember the last time I got to say I was too young for anything!) I had friends who, sadly, jumped that line and got their shots earlier than they should have, but I used the time that I was waiting for mine to do a little research and read up on what the government was offering me. I’ve not had a flu shot in almost 20 years (I’ve also not had a cold or the flu in that much time, just in case you’re wondering), so I was far from the first to line up at Walgreens for the vaccine.
Some of that hesitancy, on my part and others, is warranted. Are you familiar with the Tuskegee Experiment that everyone’s talking about? If not, read up about it. While it’s a distant history lesson for some reading this, it didn’t end until 1972, leaving two generations of African Americans skeptical of anything medical that the U.S. government was serving up.
As such, it was very much top-of-mind with my parents, neither of whom were terribly trusting of doctors and both of whom inadvertently passed along that hesitancy to their second eldest child.
My eldest daughter just taught me about the history of gynecology, having been born on the backs of enslaved African American woman who were involuntarily experimented upon by a man who became lauded as the “father of modern gynecology, James Marion Sims. As a black man, I have to be careful about who I trust and what I trust.
But I ultimately decided that if I trust the aforementioned Walgreens for my daily hypertension and cholesterol medications, when, frankly, I have no idea what’s really in the small plastic orange vials that the pharmacist hands me every month, I could extend that trust to a vaccine that has proven to be effective in staving off serious COVID-related illness and death.
And the data show that black folks are more likely to die from this thing. Facts are facts.
For months, It’s been clear to me that some aren’t going to get onboard with the vaccine as quickly as I did, and I understand that. I rejoiced when my own youngest sister, just a couple of weeks ago, got her first of two shots. I’ve just been told that my 82 year old, hypertensive, diabetic, and wickedly stubborn (but lovable) mother just got her first shot last weekend. And instead of mocking them for taking so long, I have praised them and others for making the right decision.
What I know for sure about all of this is that what we’ve been doing to encourage the masses to get vaccinated hasn’t been working. Most of us have had a hard time sifting through the myriad of messages coming from the CDC, local politicians, and social media. Things may well come down to a vaccine mandate to get things rolling, but I’ll leave that to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the FDA, and President Biden & our other elected officials.
For me, I’m going to firmly but gently encourage everyone to get the shot. “Gently” is the operative word there. Maybe Mary Poppins was onto something: a spoonful of sugar just may help the COVID medicine go down.
Just get the shot. Please. And while we’re longing for the herd immunity to arrive, mask up.
That way, we’ll all get out of this viral mess more quickly, and together.
After all, UNITED we stand…