In March, I made a really scary decision. I was terrified. I have severe allergies and my family wanted me to get the COVID-19 vaccine. I had done my homework and it didn’t make me feel any better. When you have experienced blood pressure at 39/19 you know what a near death experience is, and I plain did not want to have that repeated in my life.
I talked to many people, including Dr. Eric Yazel at the Health Department, who kindly informed me of the need for me to follow through, for my family and for my community. He assured me if I informed them of my allergies they would take every precaution, and they did.
I survived it. I know for many who are not taking the vaccine it isn’t about allergies, it is about faith, it is about a lack of trust in the science, it is about denial about the reality of COVID, it is about so many different things.
As I watched 60 Minutes Sunday night all of those reasons became insignificant. The television show featured the reality of COVID in perhaps the most realistic way I have seen to date. It featured the families of those who lost their fight to COVID. People who entered this pandemic the way we all did, but who lost so much more than we did. They didn’t talk about the vaccine, they talked about life without their loved ones.
One mother with five children (the oldest was 15) talked of how they had to adapt; with her husband’s death every person in the family had a new role. The family business would be kept alive, the 15-year-old promised that to his father, and he was working hard after school doing just that, while the daughters were now caring for the children so their mother could work, and through it all they talked of the most painful part of it, not being able to say goodbye to their father, and of the lack of a proper burial.
One young man, a 20 year old junior in college, lost his father five years ago only to lose his mother to COVID this year. He had a family, but today, he is alone. A young woman, who was engaged to the love of her life only to lose him months before their wedding, could not bring herself to take off her engagement ring.
The stories were from New York, Chicago, Terre Haute, and cities across this country. The people who survived after the loss were brave, straightforward, and determined to help other families understand the importance of fighting COVID. It was poetically beautiful to watch and oh so painful to hear their sorrow.
It made me think of how selfish I had been to make my family think I would not take the vaccine. I felt ashamed. I remember getting my second shot and feeling so relieved that it was over, that nothing had happened to me. I wasn’t sick, and no chip was planted (the needle was too small to house a chip).
I was actually amazed at the sense of relief I felt afterwards. That is until the Delta Variant reared its ugly head. Our numbers are up, people are more hesitant than before on taking the vaccine, and this variant is more dangerous that those previously seen. Do I want you to get vaccinated? You betcha.
Why would I care if you get vaccinated? Because my grandchildren can’t get vaccinated yet, no one else’s can either, so it is to protect them. Because the variant is evil and while that may be a personification, it is reality. It (the variant) doesn’t care who it hurts, it has to land somewhere.
Even though I am vaccinated I can get it and people have not been surviving it well, because I don’t want it carried to fragile people comprising them even more, and because I don’t want those of you who haven’t been vaccinated to get sick. This stuff is serious.
I am not talking to just total strangers, there are people in my own family not getting vaccinated. I am scared for them. I want them and you to experience that feeling of safety I felt after getting the shots.
I remember feeling that way once before. I might have been 5 and my mom took us to the Jeff Field House and we stood in this horribly long line to get the Salk vaccine for polio. My sugar cube. My mom was scared to give it to us, but some people from the health department came to our neighborhood and talked to everybody. She decided to trust them with her children.
We were blessed, not one of us got sick even though everybody was afraid, and we did what we needed to do for the good of the many.
Please do yourselves a favor this week and google 60 Minutes. Listen to the families who now have lives they didn’t bargain for, the bravery and the solidarity will amaze you. I wish I could change it for them and for you, but we can’t. We simply have to get through this together.