Working in the yard at this time of year never fails to lift my spirits. Spring, after all, is a time for new hope, new beginnings. Regardless of what’s happening in the rest of the world, preparing for summer in our little corners of the world makes us feel better about life.
The purchase of my first electric lawnmower was a hopeful new beginning. No more gas or oil, no exhaust fumes, better for the environment.
Getting the yard art out of winter storage is always a welcome task. Out came the wind chimes, the spinners, the hanging doo-dads. It was cheering to see them again. Shopping for new plants and flowers also put a spring in my step.
This year, however, is different. Along with the normal rebirth, there is a sense that after a long winter and one of the longest years any of us can remember, we may have reached the beginning of the end of the pandemic. And the odds of returning to something approaching normalcy will only increase as more people are vaccinated.
And there’s the rub. After a promising start, the pace of vaccinations has slowed. Some say they don’t believe the vaccines are safe. Others are saying they don’t have time to get vaccinated or don’t think it’s important. Incredibly, a few are still saying the pandemic isn’t a big deal or a hoax.
It could be argued that we are suffering from a simultaneous epidemic of stupidity. Stupidity Exhibit A is our mostly maskless state legislature, which had to adjourn for two weeks because it didn’t think Covid was a big deal – until legislators started coming down with it. When they returned, many of them still weren’t wearing masks. And, belying their supposed support for the autonomy of local government, legislators who did their best to grab power from everyone from the governor to the dog catcher tried to make it illegal for local jurisdictions to order mask mandates.
How anyone can say the pandemic isn’t a big deal when more than half a million Americans have died from it is mind boggling. It really hits home when someone you know dies of Covid. A former band member and friend of mine died of Covid. A friend of one of my daughters almost died from it. He was in intensive care for two weeks.
Nothing reverses pandemic denial like actually catching Covid. Rock musician and anti-vaxxer Ted Nugent, who previously dismissed the pandemic as a scam, said after testing positive that he thought he was dying and “could hardly crawl out of bed.” He’s singing a different tune now.
The best thing we can do to stay well, protect those we love and return to life as we once knew it is to stop denying the seriousness of the virus, take the experts’ advice and get vaccinated.
Getting the shot is not a big deal. Being apprehensive about it is understandable, especially if you have a fear of needles. But it only takes a second, and you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to have a severe reaction to the Covid vaccine.
The chances of having a severe reaction, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, are a little over one in a million vaccinations. (The odds of being struck by lighting during your lifetime are one in 15,300.)
My wife and I got our shots in February. The injections themselves barely hurt, and only for a second. We both had sore arms the next day, but the pain was minimal and gone the next day. I had some achey muscles after the second shot, but no worse than sore muscles from exercising, and again they were gone in a day.
One of our daughters had a low-grade fever for a few hours after one of her shots, but no other reaction. Our other daughter and our son had virtually no reaction. Friends who have had the vaccine say their only reaction was a slightly sore arm for a day or less.
Compare that with being in intensive care on a respirator and possibly losing your life if you don’t get vaccinated.
It isn’t just that getting vaccinated lessens the chances of you and those around you getting Covid. It also gives us the welcome and long overdue freedom to do things the authorities have been telling us for months that we shouldn’t do.
Health officials now say that fully vaccinated people can go without masks outdoors when walking, jogging or biking. We can enjoy meals and drinks with vaccinated friends at outdoor restaurants.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left the house to go on a walk and had to come back because I forgot my mask. Since the new guidelines were announced, I’ve come back to put my mask away because I don’t need it any more. The feeling of freedom that resulted from that small return to normal activity made the minor discomfort of getting vaccinated seem insignificant.
Thanks to vaccinations, the band I play in can rehearse again after months of not playing. Another welcome return to normal life.
A couple of Sundays ago, I fired up the grill and enjoyed a meal with vaccinated family members in the back yard. No one minded much that it was a chilly, windy day. We were just happy to be together doing something we hadn’t felt comfortable doing in far too long.
It took a while for me to remember the last time I’d been on an airplane. It was more than a year ago, just as the pandemic was beginning. Now that it’s relatively safe to fly in the U.S., my wife and I and some friends are planning to fly to Florida in September for the opening game of Boise State University’s football season. All of us have been vaccinated. We’ll still be required to wear masks on the plane, but that’s fine. It’s a requirement that makes sense.
It’s liberating to know that we can travel again and do other things we haven’t been able to do safely for almost 15 months.
I can’t tell you how great that feels. You have to experience it yourself. If haven’t because you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I hope you’ll reconsider getting the shot. It’s easier to get one now than it’s ever been.
You might be one of the smartest people around. Your IQ may be off the charts. But if you don’t get vaccinated and end up in the hospital, you’re going to feel pretty stupid.