Did you get your shot yet?
We can look back at the past 14 months and think about what we didn’t get to do and what we lost, but one thing is certain: medical care took a giant leap forward.
A year ago, our world began experiencing a cascade of illness. We didn’t know how the virus was transmitted, the extent of the spread, or the right precautions to take. We wiped down our groceries. We didn’t -and then we did -wear masks. We figured we’d be hunkered down for a few weeks. Far too many people wound up in overwhelmed hospitals and many died. We talked about home remedies, unproven drugs, and fantasy cures like sunny weather and bleach.
Today, thankfully, we know a lot about how the virus spreads, what can stop it, and how to treat more serious cases.
In the past it took years to develop vaccines that were 60% effective, but now we have three vaccines in the US that only took months to create, test, and prove to be 80-90% effective across a wide range of variants. We live in a world where viruses can spread more quickly than ever before, but we also live in a world where scientists can, in a mind-boggling short time, create vaccines to fight them. That’s something to celebrate!
Not only that, but our society has had an incredible awakening to the concept that we all depend on each other. The vast majority of us took the warnings and precautions seriously. We now realize that we are wearing masks not just to keep from getting sick, but so we won’t get others sick as well. The rollout of the vaccines is not perfect, but the accomplishment of getting hundreds of millions of fragile vaccines into the arms of so many in such a short amount of time is another cause for celebration.
After a year of leading the world in what NOT to do, the US is finally leading the world in something good - the process of getting protection against the virus. As Winston Churchill purportedly observed: “Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing once all other possibilities have been exhausted.” It doesn’t sound like a compliment, but more like the observation of a friend who knows us well.
I received my vaccine a few weeks ago. Prior to receiving it, I was somewhat ambivalent because I figured I was in a low-risk category, had avoided the virus for a year, and nothing much would change once I received my shot.
How wrong I was! When I showed up to the place where they were administering the vaccine, I was impressed with the organization, professionalism, and care of the volunteers who were helping us. Then, once I received the vaccine, it was as if a weight I didn’t know I had been carrying around was lifted off my shoulders. I was downright giddy. What a relief! I know we still have a long way to go, and lots of people are still vulnerable, but it felt as if I finally saw the light at the end of this long tunnel.
If you got the shot, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't yet, you will find out.
The world has changed. In the past, globalization had some bad connotations: job displacement, international tension, pollution. It still has those risks, but now it also means a worldwide, shared opportunity for health breakthroughs as American-created vaccines help people around the world. Now globalization means we have an understanding that we all are vulnerable, so we must help each other.
The country has changed. In the past, government programs may have meant waste, political favoritism, and massive debt. They still have those risks, but now they also mean shared sacrifice and mechanisms to help the neediest through better healthcare, educational support, and paycheck protection.
Our community has changed. In the past, when we thought of local “service” businesses, we thought of low wages and less convenience than online businesses. Those may still be true, but now we also realize that workers on the front line are not only doctors and nurses, but trash collectors, delivery people, and restaurant workers. We owe them a little more respect than we did in the past. (And maybe a bigger tip!)
We’re all in this together. Get your arm jabbed as soon as you can so we can show each other how much we’ve learned. Lift that weight you’ve been carrying around for a year off your shoulders. Winter is gone; spring is here.