According to Bridge Michigan today, vaccination clinics are being canceled or are having difficulty filling appointments with those willing to get a shot against COVID-19. About 40 percent of Michigan residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine. Nationwide polling shows that around a quarter of Americans don’t plan to get vaccinated, with a lot of those people identifying themselves as Republicans.
I drove by a small rural bar on Saturday. I’ve been in the place a number of times over the years and found it to be a pleasant hole in the wall, simple and rustic, with good bar food and reasonably cheap beer. On Saturday their parking lot was completely full, with an overflow of pickup trucks parked across the road as well. Some people were milling around outside, some smoking and some not, but not a single mask to be seen. If I’d gone inside I’m pretty sure I’d have been the only person wearing one.
I know we’re tired of the pandemic. I certainly am. I’m tired of not seeing friends and family. I don’t like wearing a mask in public any more than the people at the bar do. While the transition to working from home was easier for me because I’d done it for years when I was self-employed, I miss going to the office and seeing colleagues. At work, I feel like I’ve lost the ability to communicate with my team and others effectively – despite having even more virtual “meetings” – and I fear we’re kidding ourselves that we’ll ever return to normal. All of that makes me want to give up, too, especially after I get my second shot on Thursday.
I want to encourage people to hang in there, get vaccinated, and we can go back to the way we were sooner rather than later. But I get the frustration and even the anger. We thought we knew how the world worked and then suddenly it didn’t work that way, and it feels like it never will be that way again. If we can’t make it to the magical “herd immunity,” what’s the point?
Those of us who choose to get vaccinated will have our COVID fears greatly reduced. It’s still possible to get COVID, of course; none of the vaccines provide 100% protection. But with the vaccine, an illness from COVID is much milder, even asymptomatic. You can still spread the virus, though, even if you’re feeling fine, so masks will still be a good idea to avoid infecting others who have opted not to be vaccinated.
But there’s the problem. If someone doesn’t want to get the vaccine – and it’s not required – why am I going to have to keep doing things I don’t want to do to keep them safer? I know it’s the moral thing to do, but it’s going to be increasingly hard to convince myself of that as the spring and summer roll along.
It feels like we’re giving up. I hope we live to regret that.