Celebrating full vaccination against SARS-CoV-2… with a mask on

Today, I celebrate the fact that I’m officially fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus responsible for the pandemic and all of its miserable restrictions. It’s been 14 days since my second Moderna jab.

I encourage everyone eligible and not medically contraindicated to pursue the same happy state.Person celebrating by blowing into unfurling pink butterfly party toy

The uncomfortable side effects weren’t the greatest thing ever, but they are long gone. My confidence, on the other hand, only grows stronger that I won’t catch or spread COVID-19 to those I love or innocent strangers.

My commitment to protecting others is a product of both my patriotismand my Jewish faith’s teachings on the inherent dignity and value of human life.

My behavior won’t change too much, however, given that I’m only the second person in our household of six people to achieve this milestone. My father-in-law, at a venerable age ≥75, was part of our state’s Phase II, given access to scarce vaccine appointments back in February.Patients during mandatory observation for side effects after coronavirus vaccination jab

Two thirds of us* have had second shots, and my youngest got his first jab within days of his cohort becoming eligible. The others in our household will reach full immunity over the course of the next four and a half weeks.

Knowing that even just the first dose of Pfizer vaccine reduces my youngest’s odds of symptomatic coronavirus infection by more than half, he will be able to rejoin his class for in person learning for at least the final couple of weeks of the school year.

What a blessing!School tents for COVID-19 - 1

It is especially poignant given my son’s love for this special school, which has been his academic home for more than half of his life, added to the fact that he’s moving on to his next level of education at a different institution in the fall.

Schools here rightly are still required by law to enforce masks for pupils indoors; my child will continue to wear a face covering at all times on campus, exceeding state regulations. He will continue to take care to keep social distance inside as well.

Because a frail, ill, elderly member of our family—and household—has a history of severe anaphylaxis triggered by medications and vaccine components, protecting ourselves from suffering severe COVID-19 is great, but not sufficient. She remains at elevated personal risk if she catches the coronavirus, yet unprotected by anything except her family’s caution.Safety goggles, cloth face mask, and disposable gloves

We will continue to guard against even mild infection, practicing indoor masking and social distancing in all public places, because no one knows yet exactly how contagious a vaccinated, asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic carrier really is.

Breakthrough infections after vaccination are rare and not usually severe, but they definitively exist and have caused some to suffer for prolonged periods of time.

I’m thrilled and grateful to live in a wealthy, powerful nation wherein my family enjoys the fruits of stupendous work on the part of scientists and clinicians fighting a novel disease. I understand and agree with the conclusion that a majority of fully vaccinated people can safely modify some behaviors at this point in the pandemic.

I also offer our situation as a cautionary tale to all those mocking and minimizing maintained vigilance even as rates of infection, hospitalization, and death improve. We aren’t just paranoid hypocrites who doubt or misunderstand science.

We are multi-generational households. We are people with allergies and other uncommon health conditions causing variable responses to vaccines. We are concerned parents, children, and grandchildren. We are traumatized family members of victims who lost lives to the pandemic.Woman hugs child

By most measures, COVID-19 is retreating. I celebrate that fact, too! My gaiety is merely tempered by the facts of my personal situation.

People of goodwill must continue to support each other—and everyone else in our communities—as each family negotiates the tail end of their own version of the pandemic. That’s how we recover, as a society.

I know of no greater way to honor those who’ve suffered, and those we’ve lost, than to carry on leading a joyful life including generous quantities of service and gratitude.

That process will look different from house to house, and community to community.

That’s not just okay, it’s a magnificent reflection of the vibrant diversity of modern America. Getting back to normal isn’t the best we can do; let’s move forward together to an even better future.

Respecting that others may do so differently from you is a powerful step in that direction.

Functional democracy—or effective government in a democratic republic such as the United States of America—depends upon civic virtue. Failing to protect others within my community would undermine everything I believe to be right, just, and good.

* i.e., us = my household

Teenagers such as my kids already have lower rates of severe or even symptomatic infection with this virus. In a population aged 65+, the first dose of either mRNA vaccine was protective against COVID-19 serious enough to require hospitalization at a rate of 64%. Subsequent studies show 12-15 year old adolescents mounting greater antibody responses to these vaccines than even young adults 16-25—who responded more vigorously than elders—likely due to the more robust immune system of youth.

The blessing of complicated politics

I was undertaking a small errand at DS2’s school and in the company of several other class parents when two of them discovered they shared an acquaintance in common. As they offered up little details about the gentleman in question to cement their understanding that they were truly thinking of the same man, one woman said to the other something to the effect of how sad it was that this fellow was still so deluded as to be a gay Republican.

Once again, I found myself in the unhappy place of feeling quite obliged to speak out or risk considering myself unprincipled. I actually dislike political arguments, because I can’t help but take things personally. In this case, I had very little to say about the precise opinion in question, but was compelled to call the speaker out on the matter of dismissing so cavalierly the man’s probable heartfelt, carefully considered, and socially uncomfortable position.

I think I said, “Isn’t it unfortunate that this man may have strong feelings about fiscal policy or how exactly we interpret the Constitution, and because of it people question his commitment to his sexual identity?”

The matter dropped rather quickly, as well it should, being generally inappropriate conversation for mere acquaintances at a school for children below the age of 14, but I’m fairly certain the woman I challenged left thinking less of me.

Returning home and reflecting upon the matter brought me more clarity about the root of why I was so troubled by her comment. Now I saw what had really motivated me to speak.

We live in an age of shallowing opinions; most Americans immerse themselves daily in a soup of media constantly polarizing every issue to black and white in order to sensationalize it and keep the jaded audience coming back for more titillation. Carefully teasing out the subtle strands of a complex situation takes time and energy that few producers—or consumers—of content care to exercise. A really thorough understanding of most issues will reveal at least two sides to the story, and should highlight why someone else may feel a different way, even if one is not, oneself, convinced by an argument.

Thank God for a complicated individual who finds himself straddling multiple worldviews in contrast to a sea of bobbing lemmings with their intellectually lock-stepped politics!

When I moved to a state known for its collectively liberal politics, I thought it would come as a relief after my upbringing and subsequent college experience in states with liberal cities and conservative rural districts. Imagine my surprise in finding it disquieting to be so constantly confronted by assumptions about one’s politics, ballots with no alternative candidates, and rarely even sign-holders from more than one party across the street from my polling place.

My politics have, without a doubt, been affected by my husband’s keen insight, rational discourse, and non-traditional views, but, more than anything, it has been the subtle effect of disagreeing completely on important issues with someone I simultaneously hold in the highest possible regard that has highlighted for me the value of respecting diverse views. Frankly, this is an oft-ignored facet of true diversity; yet another pseudo-acceptance by many people with whom my politics roughly align.

I know with certainty that my husband is a person of such excellence, high moral character, abundant intelligence, and absolute decency… yet I disagree with him on principles that are matters of moral imperative. This was a strain on my conscience when I met him; I had no practice in real tolerance, and I did not yet see what a gift it is to the world for there to be people, regardless of their convictions, who at least have thought long and hard to create them, and hold them faithfully, especially when they can accept the different, but equally hard-earned values of others.

So here’s to the gay Republican! May he hold his principles sacred, do what he thinks is right, and continue to reflect for the rest of his life, and so may it be for every one of us.

Originally posted via iWeb in 2011