Yesterday my husband and I received our Covid-19 vaccinations. We got the Johnson&Johnson vaccine, which is one and done. That means in two weeks we can breathe a little easier, even if we take the same precautions. Then we will wait another two weeks before it is fully activated and we can feel safe.
But will we?
Does Vaccinated Mean Comfortable?
For a year we have looked forward to doing the things we love once again in a world returned to a semblance of normal. This might mean the simple things: eating out, visiting a museum, shopping in person, going to the gym, and having a family get-together. Then there are the bigger things, such as getting on an airplane to visit the grandkids.
Will we still feel comfortable doing those things?
It took me a year to make a habit of wearing a mask but far less time to see other people as a threat—possible disease vectors. For my own good I avoided groups, walked around people instead of past them, talked to others at a distance. People were no longer my friends; instead, they had become potential dangers to my health and possibly my life. It required a mental pivot to see other people as a threat instead of fellow human beings. How long will it take to turn back again?
Travel and Healthy Environments
And then there’s travel. I love to travel. When I was working, I traveled for business meetings, conferences, trade shows, and sales meetings. I have logged time in 36 out of the 50 states as well as multiple foreign countries.
We also traveled for pleasure and I enjoyed that even more. I thought nothing of hopping on a plane to visit my granddaughters.
Not that I found airplanes to be healthy environments, mind you. I always brought sanitizing wipes that I used to cleanse the armrests, tray table latch, tray table, TV screen, and any other surface others might have touched.
I remembered an awful flight to San Jose where the man behind me coughed a thick wet cough for the whole of the trip. By the time I reached my hotel, I had his cold. So, I’m sure, did whoever sat in his seat on the return trip and touched anything within reach of that cough.
That meant taking a reasonable precaution, though, because I was never afraid of the other passengers on the plane. I never worried about breathing the air in a big metal tube. When traveling, I didn’t think twice about making my way through crowded airports, standing in line to board, and waiting for the guy in front of me to jam his oversized overnighter in the overhead compartment.
Will that seem so innocuous now?
Going Out Safely
Movie theaters have re-opened but I cannot think of a movie so important I want to go sit in an auditorium with hundreds of other film buffs. The problem with going to the movies used to be expensive popcorn and soda-sticky floors. Now it’s whether someone sits next to me or behind me. Has he/she been vaccinated? Are they just going maskless for political reasons or because they’re idiots?
What about restaurants? Will we feel safe eating bare-faced among others in the dining room? Can we edge away from the other diners? How will they know we’re vaccinated? Can we know they are, too?
How We See Others
We have lost something as a society when we see our fellow passengers, citizens, shoppers, and co-workers as sources of infection. It injects a level of distrust, wariness, and caution to our interactions. It also brings emotions ranging from distaste to outright fear in situations as innocuous as choir practice. Singing loses some of its joy when you have to worry about what’s in the exhalations of the singers around you.
We will get through this, of course. Already, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and every person who gets vaccinated brings that light a little bit closer, a little bit faster. We will also achieve herd immunity even though the “herd” has been thinned so far by over 520,000 other souls who once were fellow citizens.
Vaccinated and Ready
In a previous post I wrote about how things had changed as the end of 2020 approached. Now, well into 2021 and fully vaccinated, my husband and I are beginning to talk about going out again once the waiting period is over and what we would like to do when the weather is warmer.
The 2021 touring season may pick up after going as dark as the theaters. I’m waiting to hear from the two organizations for which I give walking tours: Boston By Foot and Haunted Boston. Walking tours outside seem completely safe and do-able to me, especially if everyone is masked.
The cruise ships present a completely different story. By law, they have to stop in at least one country outside the U.S. and that usually meant Canada. The cruise ships would go up the East Coast, stop in Canada, then turn around and come back. But Canada has closed its ports to the cruise ships, so this revenue stream might not pick up until 2022. I’m okay with that. Vaccinated or not, the thought of swinging up onto a bus packed with 50 people is somewhat daunting.
So, there we have it. For the first time in a year, the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train. Instead, it represents safety and a return to something like normality. I would say it can’t happen fast enough but we all just lost a year of our lives and I don’t want to wish any more of them away.
Stay safe and healthy. Get vaccinated as soon as you can. I’ll see you out there in the big wide world again soon.