Why I am masked and vaccinated against COVID-19
September 30, 2021
When faced with a significant decision, I often ask myself, what is the worst that could happen. With COVID-19, I fear passing the virus to a friend, family member, loved one, or even a stranger. The worst that could happen is giving it to someone who does not survive the illness. Most people who have died or are suffering long-haul symptoms got the virus from someone they know.
I am not a scientist or medical professional. I am an artist, coffee shop owner, and publisher. I am confident in my knowledge of art, my ability to paint, and what makes a perfect latte. I depend on the medical professionals who have kept me healthy through car accidents, bouts of pneumonia, and chronic insomnia when it comes to my health care.
Born in the fifties, I saw the effects of polio and was fortunate that an effective vaccine had been developed. I was also vaccinated against smallpox, mumps, measles, and tetanus when I stepped on rusty nails. I witnessed these diseases disappear in the United States using vaccines that have fewer side effects than over-the-counter allergy medications.
The decision to be vaccinated against COVID-19 was not difficult. I listened to members of the medical and scientific community. Those who have been working for decades to understand and protect us from infectious diseases. They are Republicans and Democrats; they are the children of my neighbors, ex-students of mine, and volunteers in our community. They are just like us, except with expertise in subjects too complicated to learn from Facebook screenshots.
Again, weighing the risks to the benefits of vaccination, I chose to fight the virus. To keep from becoming a vehicle for the virus to spread.
Unfortunately, my decision has been reinforced as I see hospitals in Washington struggle to provide emergency care while the current surge in infections fills available ICU beds. The overwhelming number of emergency cases are unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. Yes, there are breakthrough cases, but they are less likely to be hospitalized and make up fewer than 10% of active cases. The numbers are clear to me, be part of the solution.
My decision to mask up has also been an easy one.
The primary way COVID-19 spreads is on droplets from an infected person who coughs, sneezes, or talks within six feet of another person. The Delta Variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus. Infectious disease specialists and research institutions continue to recommend masks as a tool to reduce the transmission of this highly contagious virus.
I chose to follow the mask recommendations to reduce the chance I could pass the virus to a loved one or a friend. If I am wrong and masks don’t work, the only damage is I’ve committed a relatively minor fashion faux pas. This was an obvious choice; I will err on the side of the public good and learn to smile with my eyes.
Recently a mailer sent to residents in our area claims vaccine and mask compliance will lead to totalitarianism and the loss of our freedom. I couldn’t disagree more. Our democracy is robust enough to withstand masks and vaccines as it has overcome the tyranny of seat belts, helmets, and child labor laws. We are best when we work together.