It is with a very heavy heart that I write today’s post. I went to bed last night after learning about the death of veteran Tamil actor Vivek and woke up to the loss of a dear friend’s relative. Pandemic-related or not, celebrity or acquaintance, these deaths have left a dark cloud looming over the day.
Coming to this week’s topic, let me start by telling you that I got my first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine yesterday. As I sat in the car for the mandatory 15-minute observation, I was seriously wondering why ‘To be or not to be vaccinated,’ seems to be the main question on many people’s minds. Be it in this country or in India, there are people who are either extremely skeptical about the vaccine or are stupidly adamant about not taking it. But my question is, why? Right now, these vaccinations are the only answers we have, as this pandemic continues to rage around the world.
As we stepped into this year, there was optimism, mild albeit, but there was some hope. With multiple vaccinations getting approved for usage and countries starting their inoculation drives, it felt as though we were nearing the end of the year-long tunnel. Most nations started off by offering vaccinations to those who needed it the most: healthcare and emergency workers who put their lives on the line for the rest of us. Amidst lack of vaccine availability and health scares regarding its side and after effects, the inoculations kept happening at a slow but steady pace. But, as we stepped into Spring, the optimism turned into callousness and people’s utter stupidity surfaced again.
You know what I am talking about; we have all seen images of and heard of people flocking to beaches, taking international vacations, and walking around bindaas without masks as though the pandemic never happened. And what has that led to? A sudden surge in cases, globally. From the partyers frolicking on the streets of Florida, to the thousands who gathered for the Kumbh mela at Haridwar, all have played a part in the surge. It is scary to know that in just one day, India clocked 234,692 Covid cases on Saturday. And still people are behaving as though it is not a thing of concern at all.
Even though the area we live in was notorious for not following the state’s covid guidelines, the number of daily cases and deaths has reduced considerably since the beginning of the year. The county and state have been slowly relaxing many restrictions and while mask regulations are still applicable, restaurants, theatres, religious institutions, and schools are now operating with limited capacities. While there are many who do not follow the guidelines, it looks like the population at large has done something right, to bring down the infection rate. And even though we have been facing a shortage of vaccines, as of today 42.84% of the state’s population has received at least one shot of the vaccine.
Like I said earlier, I don’t understand why many are still refusing to get the vaccination. I understand that some have had adverse reactions to certain vaccinations, but most of those cases were linked to underlying allergies. Here, we have three available vaccines: Pfizer and Moderna (2-doses each) and Johnson & Johnson (J&J – one dose). Many were opting to get the single-shot vaccine so that they could be done with it and move on with their lives. As vaccinations opened up for larger groups of people, we registered on our county’s app to secure a spot in the digital queue. People with underlying conditions became eligible in mid-march and Mr. P received his first shot soon after. The general population became eligible in mid-April and I was waiting to make an appointment when his company announced a vaccine drive for employees and families. They were planning to administer the J&J vaccine. I was slightly concerned because multiple sites had shut down after people showed instant adverse reactions to the J&J shots. I kept the appointment, thinking that I would cancel if something opened up via the county’s app. But it so happened, that on Tuesday of this week, the FDA and CDC recommended a pause for the vaccine, to study clots seen in six women who received the dose. My concerns were assuaged and I was relieved when Mr. P’s company replaced J&J with Pfizer.
I have personally seen people reacting differently to both the two-dose vaccinations. Mr. P received his second dose this week and while he had no side effects after the first one, this time he had muscle soreness at the injection site and severe fatigue. A friend received Moderna and had mild effects after the first one and more severe effects after the second. Many others also showed varying effects after their respective doses. In India, my parents, 93-year old grandmother, mother-in-law, and others did not have any reaction to their first doses and I am hoping that their second shots also go by smoothly. It has been more than 24 hours since my first shot and even though I had a severe headache yesterday, I am feeling much better now.
Neither am I a medical professional, nor am I well-versed with the science behind the preparation and efficacy of vaccines, but as someone who has read up on this a little and has received one dose, I urge everyone who is eligible to go and get vaccinated. Right now, it is our only option to fight the Coronavirus. While it may not completely protect us from getting Covid-19, it is definitely designed to reduce the seriousness of the infection, should someone get it. Also, please understand that getting vaccinated does not give us the freedom to walk around without a mask and gather in big groups; we still need to follow all the safety measures to keep ourselves and others around us safe. Just remember that the more the number of vaccinated people around the world, the lower the chance of spreading the infection.
Get vaccinated, wear your masks, maintain social distancing where ever possible, stay home and stay safe!