I believe in science. I believe in vaccinations. When the chicken pox vaccine came out in 1995, my daughter’s pediatrician asked if we wanted her vaccinated. It was not yet mandatory, so we would have to pay for the shot. I did not hesitate. I had chicken pox as a child and I was happy to be able to spare my own child that agony. (Chicken pox vaccinations became mandatory for school children in 1997.)
Vaccines also spared my kids other illness that were considered “routine childhood diseases” when I was young. I suffered through mumps, measles (including the 3-day version and the type that requires the child be kept in a dark room to avoid damage to the eyesight) and whooping cough. My kids were spared all of those diseases, thanks to vaccinations.
Of note to those who are hoping if enough people catch COVID-19 and build up natural immunities, it will end the pandemic without vaccinations, remember that chicken pox continued to circulate in the population for more than 100 years and never reached "herd immunity." The virus was first identified as different from smallpox in 1892. Per the Centers for Disease Control, the COVID-19 delta variant is as contagious as chicken pox.
When COVID-19 vaccinations became available to my age group, I signed up right away. I cheerfully drove through the vaccine pod at the Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center. I thanked the person who administered my shot. Then a month later, I did it again.
I am fully vaccinated. I am no longer overly concerned about winding up in the hospital should I be exposed to the virus. But I continue to wash my hands frequently and thoroughly. I continue to carry hand sanitizer and use it if I touch something others may have touched, like the keypad at a checkout counter. I continue to wipe down my shopping cart with sanitizing wipes -- I carry my own just in case the store does not have them available. And I continue to wear a mask at the grocery store.
I’m doing these things, not for myself, but for those who are either too young to be vaccinated or else cannot be vaccinated due to other health issues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) most recent update: “Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the delta variant. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the delta variant can spread the virus to others.”
To reduce their risk of becoming infected with the delta variant and potentially spreading it to others: CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people:
• Wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
• Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
• Get tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result.
• Isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
While my own kids are grown -- and vaccinated -- and I do not yet have grandchildren, there is a special little guy who treats me like an honorary grandparent. He sometimes helps me with my garden. He invites me to his birthday parties. He’s not old enough to be vaccinated. So if you see me wearing a mask in the grocery store, I’m wearing it for him. The minor inconvenience of wearing a mask for a few minutes is a small thing compared to the risk of contracting the virus and passing it on.