By the time you read this, I am either hours (or less) away from being injected with my second COVID vaccine, or will have already received it. My appointment is for noon on Monday, April 12.
I’ll be joining nearly one-third of our country now fully vaccinated.
More than a year ago, the world seemed to change overnight as we learned of the novel coronavirus making its way here from the other side of the globe. A worldwide pandemic (a word I had to look up in the dictionary) was declared as the virus spread, establishing itself in every state in the U.S.
The rest, as the saying goes, is (recent) history.
There has been much reminiscing over the past month as we hit the one-year mark and have remembered where we were when we first heard about the novel coronavirus now commonly known as COVID-19.
Millions of us came home to work. Our favorite restaurants stopped serving, schools were closed and athletic events were canceled. A cautious person by nature, I wondered if I had it each time I had a cough or sniffle.
A common question in those early days was, “Do you know anyone with COVID?”
For a long time, I did not. Eventually that changed, of course. Today if you don’t know anyone who has had it, or you have not had it yourself, then you really have been in quarantine.
As I wrote in this space last November, in a nightmarish scenario, my wife became exposed to COVID from being with her elderly father, who died the day after his diagnosis.
Her mother was also exposed, and she died 13 days later. My wife tested positive, but experienced only mild symptoms and made a full recovery.
Because of her diagnosis, she spent two weeks in quarantine in our home while I crashed at the homes of my adult children. She could only talk with her mother by phone shortly before she passed away.
My son and daughter-in-law in Atlanta both had it early this year, each experiencing flu-like symptoms, and having to trudge through about three weeks of taking care of a three-year-old and an infant while feeling lousy. They had no help from family members who, under normal circumstances, would have gladly stepped in to assist.
Hardly anyone has not been affected by COVID in some way.
Sadly, it quickly became a political issue and a point of contention among friends and family. When the CDC advised us to start wearing masks, and state and local governments began mandating them, some were offended and saw it as a violation of their rights.
Former President Trump, whose presidency became largely defined by COVID and who, along with his wife, would eventually contract it himself, early on seemed to take a strong position of leadership. He appointed a task force and held regular press conferences.
Just a few months into the pandemic, however, those press conferences became less frequent. Trump seemed to be tiring of it all and became visibly annoyed with some of his advisors.
On the lawn of the White House last August, he accepted his party’s nomination for a second term as president in front of a mostly unmasked crowd, with hundreds sitting shoulder to shoulder as people nationwide wore masks, isolated themselves and practiced social distancing.
Differences of opinion remain as to how we have conducted ourselves over the past year. Some believe there was a complete overreaction, while others think we did not do enough.
There are those who buy into conspiracy theories of various sorts. You have probably heard one or two.
And as the vaccine becomes available to every American who wants it, there are those who are refusing it for various reasons.
The latest controversy centers around “vaccine passports,” documentation a person would carry to allow entrance to crowded events such as concerts or athletic events, or perhaps for entry into a foreign country that might require confirmation of having received the vaccine.
At least two governors have signed executive orders banning the passports. Tennessee’s Governor Lee has spoken out against them and supports legislation to keep them from being required.
I suppose this is preventive maintenance. Best I can tell, there is nothing in the works to make vaccine passports commonplace. In fact, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, speaking on behalf of the Biden administration, recently said, “the government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.”
The debates will no doubt continue. To some extent, I suppose that is healthy. As a proponent of listening to various viewpoints, I will certainly continue to do that.
But I make no apology for believing the vaccine is the best way to put this chapter behind us.
As I receive this second shot, I’ll be thinking of the medical folks and service-industry workers who put their lives on the line or gave their lives over the past year. We owe them our deepest gratitude.
I’ll be thinking of the more than half-million in this country whose lives were cut short, including my sweet father-in-law and mother-in-law.
I’ll think of the lives now being saved and life-altering illnesses being prevented.
I can’t roll up my sleeve fast enough.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].