I received my 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Apart from the usual side effects, I feel a great amount of the burden lifted off my shoulders that the Pandemic has brought.
As we see the Pandemic getting stronger despite a year of continuous and differing levels of restrictions, it has been painful to watch the scenes that we are seeing in India today. I am hearing of a growing number of family and friends getting COVID-19 and some even dying as a result. I can’t seem to voice how I feel, but I am definitely feeling a vacuum. This vacuum contains the memories and moments I could have created and spent with some of these people, only if COVID-19 didn’t take them away.
There is still some of the burden left on my shoulders. This burden is about not allowing myself to become complacent after receiving the vaccine. It is very easy to start acting like normal and pretending that we can now be free from COVID-19 infection. But the fact is, we can still get it and we can still spread it. The chances are low and maybe very slim but still the chances are very real indeed.
With the amount of misinformation about the vaccine, I fear that we will not reach global herd immunity. Yesterday, I came to know about Joe Rogan talking about if you are a healthy 21 year old then you shouldn’t get the vaccine. I find that what he has said to be irresponsible and a clear lack of understanding about COVID-19. It affects people differently, healthy or unhealthy. It doesn’t care about your age, your religion, your diet, your location as the virus only cares about it’s own survival. Dr. Fauci gave the best response to what Joe Rogan said and implored us all to think about society as a whole. We are seeing growing numbers of young people getting COVID-19 and some dying as a result. Some COVID-19 deniers, who were young and influential on social media, died after contracting the virus. I encourage everyone who can get the COVID-19 vaccine to get it. Do it for others, for society, or for your community. If you love yourself tremendously, get the vaccine, you want to stay healthy and especially, if you want to eliminate one possible cause of death. This is all about common sense.
We have experts, who study infectious diseases, who have worked hard to create technologies and science to create vaccines. We have public health bodies that want to ensure that clinical trials are conducted and that results are published. All of this is for our safety. Yes, some people may still get COVID-19 after getting the vaccine, some may die or get abnormal reactions from the vaccine but compared to number of people dying once they are infected by COVID-19, there is and will be a massive difference between the two. We only need to look at the statistics.
But my friends, who have received the vaccine, don’t get complacent and don’t think that everything is now back to normal. It isn’t and it will not be until every person eligible for the vaccine receives the vaccine and I am not talking about your country alone. I am talking about the whole globe. We are an interconnected world, dependent on each other, it benefits us all to get vaccinated. To help the poorer countries get the vaccine for their population, the WHO Foundation have an initiative called Go Give One – please donate to this. They say that $7 gives one vaccine to a poor country that cannot afford it. We can all do our bit to help. By the way, I am not affiliated by the WHO Foundation at all but feel we need to do this.
Adding to this, I want to express the steps we need to take going forward as this Pandemic continues and variants will appear that may affect the efficacy of the vaccines. I strongly encourage everyone to continue to wear masks, maintain 6ft of social distancing and wash our hands regularly. Avoid crowded places, public travel and large gatherings as much as possible. Until our Public Health bodies say that we have reached herd immunity, we should continue to take precaution. These steps apply to everyone – vaccinated and unvaccinated.
We need to keep in mind that this is a new disease that our experts are continuously receiving new data about. Guidelines may change according to the data. Instead of being annoyed that they have changed, let’s understand that circumstances change according to new information. Once we understand this, it is really easy to accept that some restrictions may get eased and then they bring those restrictions back. Instead of seeing it as control, we know it is about safety. We have to keep an open mind as much as possible regardless of how fatigued we get with the restrictions. However, politicians have to be honest with the public in regards of the severity of not complying to restrictions. It is about educating the public with respect. Don’t tell them that everything will be okay, instead prepare them that restrictions will be adjusted according to current data and it will always remain an evolving situation.
I don’t care about being preachy about this because like I said COVID-19 is an infectious disease that can lead to death. If you can book an appointment to get the vaccine, go and book it. Don’t delay it at all. The vaccines are a safer way to protect yourself and others. None of the doses of the vaccines itself will give you a COVID-19 infection as the doses do not have the live virus. I encourage you to read the CDC information on the vaccine.
I feel this is our duty and responsibility as a global citizen. Who knows what normal will look like going forward but all I can say is that today, you can stay safe.