Aside from a sore arm and feeling lethargic, I’m fine. (As a parent, I’ve learned to function in a permanent state of exhaustion.) Conspiracy theorists can also rest easy knowing that, if Bill Gates embedded a microchip inside me, it apparently functions as well as Microsoft Edge.
I wasn’t expecting to get vaccinated this early because I’m low risk. I stay healthy by limiting myself to only one medium pizza a day. I exercise regularly, and I wear one of those salad bar sneeze guards around my face when I go to the gym. At the risk of sounding like a hipster, I worked from home before it was cool. Being classified as “non-essential” may seem like a mean-spirited kick in the pajama pants, but it’s a living.
All things considered, I was in the back of the line — and I was fine with that. It felt like I was supporting higher-risk folks while also satiating my natural urge to wait until the last minute to perform a task. I could write about why I procrastinate, but I’ll have to do it later.
But then I received a message asking if I could get down to the local pharmacy to receive my first vaccination as soon as possible. I slipped out of my non-essential work attire into something a bit more essential (pants) and zipped into town.
Why I was bumped up in priority is likely twofold: 1) Vaccine production is through the roof (and our government is maxing out every credit card it owns to make this happen) and/or 2) people are ghosting their vaccine appointments. The gap between supply and demand created an opening for some of us non-essentials to sneak in.
But not everybody is striking when the iron is hot — or, in this case, when the vaccine is thawing. Research suggests that conservatives are the most likely to demonstrate “vaccine hesitancy.” This is odd because Donald Trump, the true north of modern conservatism, desperately wants the vaccine tied to his presidential legacy.
“If I wasn’t president, you wouldn‘t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all,” Trump wrote. “I hope everyone remembers.”
Trump sounds like that desperate kid in grade school who, in pursuit of partial credit, is begging you to add his name to your group project. That said, when I read that 41% of Republicans don’t plan to get vaccinated, I immediately went to the CDC website to see if “jaw on floor” was a symptom of COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, their website wasn’t very helpful.
For nearly a year, I listened to the armchair epidemiologists howl about herd immunity — or their approximation of the term. Now, we have an opportunity for genuine herd immunity, and the crowd has gone silent. This is the same goalpost-shifting crowd that went from “it’s just the flu” (in three months, COVID-19 killed the equivalent of what the flu normally does in a year) to “you have a 99.9% survival rate” (0.1% of the U.S. population still leaves you with about 328,000 bodies to stack). I can empathize with this group: When I was in third grade, I struggled with science and math, too.
And because of this hesitancy, political leaders are figuring out how to “incentivize” vaccinations, which is why we’re debating crazy ideas like a vaccine passport. Notwithstanding good-faith concerns about protecting data and health privacy and fundamental civil liberties, passports seem as practical as a bible study at a Lil’ Nas X concert.
Consider the range of scenarios that may occur.
One scenario: Governments continue to restrict activity because new variants pop up like Elon Musk-financed rockets. What good is the passport if we’re all still doing the quarantine hokey-pokey?
Another scenario: a fully vaccinated world (ha!). If so, why would we need to carry around proof of immunity? We don’t do this for smallpox, polio, or countless other diseases. The main downside of this imaginary world is that you no longer have the convenient excuse of a global pandemic to not watch your coworker play bass in his horrible band. (“I would totally go to your show, Bob, but….”)
Our best way out of this whole pandemic suckfest is through vaccination. And, despite our scruples, we should really marvel at 1) the breakneck speed at which we rolled out these vaccines through the research trials and regulatory approvals and 2) the stunningly high rate of efficacy demonstrated by these bad boys. Trump wants credit for a reason.
Until vaccination rates increase, the suckfest will continue. In the meantime, I’m just going to use this article as my proof of vaccination.
Sorry, Bob. I’m still not going to your show.
Jay Stooksberry is a writer and editor based in Delta, Colorado. His writing is available at www.jaystooksberry.com.