What a weird year. What a tragic year. What a historic year.
Certainly, no one will forget what we all have experienced and continue to live through as others lost their lives to the disease. This pandemic is something we hopefully only see once in a lifetime.
As of yesterday, I have received both of my COVID-19 vaccinations. I got the Moderna variety.
Hopefully being fully vaccinated will herald a return to normalcy, especially if enough people get the shot. I would love to be able to teach my classes without a mask or go into a restaurant to eat without worrying about my putting my or my family’s health at risk.
This would be glorious, but I don’t think being vaccinated makes me bulletproof or invincible. It is going to take the majority of people to get vaccinated in order to it to have a true impact on the situation.
Sadly, I am skeptical that enough people will get the shots. The conspiracy theories and mistrust concerning vaccinations in general and this vaccine specifically are going to be a major hurdle for herd immunity.
However, I do feel that getting vaccinated changes things. It feels like a corner has been turned, and that makes me reflective.
A little more than a year ago, my son was born, and though the pandemic upended things, it meant my wife and I got to see him grow a great dead in the early days of his life. Though the reason for this family time wasn’t ideal, it was one positive of this situation.
Baseball was postponed and played an abbreviated season last year, but it is going full-bore this year. That’s a wonderful change, and my family and I are excited to watch our St. Louis Cardinals play. Maybe we will even feel safe enough to attend in person later this summer. I don’t know about that yet, though. I’m still pretty skittish. I will be paying close attention to what the Centers for Disease Control says about the matter moving forward.
Another positive is that the parks and other recreational locations such as zoos are opening up. This is due in large part to the vaccine being available to a larger number of people and because more is understood about how the virus spreads and infects people.
That wasn’t the case at first, which is why our local park was closed. I still believe that was the right decision. Too many people have died and continue to die because of COVID-19. It has impacted the families of my friends and loved ones.
Any steps that can be taken to prevent the death of another person are worth taking. No matter how much of a perceived inconvenience it might be.
That is why, despite being vaccinated, I will not be minimizing my personal safety measures. I will continue to require masks in my classes, and I won’t be allowing students to come into my office. School wraps up for the semester in about a month. We’ve made it this far, we can finish the academic year with our masks on and our health protected.
Likewise, I will continue to wear my mask when I go into stores and to other events and locales that include people not inside my bubble. Even at commencement next month, which is going to be a big one as we make up for last year’s graduation getting canceled, I plan to wear my mask. It is the responsible thing to do, and it is a sign of respect. I respect those around me enough to wear my mask and take steps that would mitigate any possible germ transmissions. Sure, they might be vaccinated too, but I don’t know that. And they don’t know for sure if I’m vaccinated or not. That means wearing a mask is the right thing to do.
Of course, if commencement gets to be outside as it usually is when weather conditions permit, I could understand the arguments for not wearing a mask. I do feel outdoor events are a bit different, which is why Easter is going to be pretty excited.
Though my family had to cancel it last year, we will be gathering for our traditional Easter celebration in a couple of days. It might a little different from typical years as we are foregoing the typical lunch and just having an outdoor cookout for supper. Still, it will be wonderful to see everyone, and I attribute the ability to have this gathering to the fact that a fair number of us elected to get the vaccine.
My second semester of my Ph.D. at Kansas State University continues to truck along. Of the three classes I’m taking, one has elected to start meeting in person. If I’m being honest, I actually kind of like it. It’s been so long since I’ve been in a classroom as a student, it is fun to see things from a different perspective and get to interact with my classmates. I am guessing the next semester that will start in the fall will be in-person. The primary downside to that is just having to drive to Manhattan, Kansas, two or three times per week. I just hope gas prices don’t get too out of hand.
Speaking of K-State and Manhattan, last year the American Legion Boys State of Kansas summer program had to be scrapped because of the pandemic. It’s on for this year and will be back on the K-State campus, but I won’t be part of it. I had to step away because of the pursuit of my doctoral degree. I’ll miss it, but I’m sure it will carry on without me just fine.
Overall, I’m grateful that I received my vaccination, and I’m looking forward to some semblance of normalcy. More to the point, though, I’m looking forward to the end of the semester and a less stressful summer.
Knowing where I live, this summer the pandemic will be “over” for most of the people I live around, even though it won’t be and they probably won’t get the vaccine. Their politics and beliefs will be an issue. At least I will be as protected as I can be despite their ignorance and denial.