OPINION: When it comes to the vaccine, how patient can you be?

OPINION: When it comes to the vaccine, how patient can you be?

On Thursday I became eligible to receive the vaccination for COVID-19. What I can report at this point is that as far as I can tell I’m lined up, at least for April.

It can be hard to navigate because you encounter phrases like: “Please create your account to access the recipient module.” Recipient means receive, right? And module means, I don’t know, lunar module? Like the one Neil Armstrong stepped off from to set foot on the moon? Not likely.

It would probably be overstating the case to say that I am anxious to get this done. Let’s just say I’m ready. I like to think I’m a patient sort (patient as in willing to wait as opposed to being in a hospital). On the other hand, if you told me I’d get the vaccine in the next two seconds, I’d say: What took you so long?

So, I am no anti-vaxxer. I wear a scar on my arm, the size of a small button, that I don’t ever remember even getting, that serves as a reminder that smallpox, as the dictionary puts it, was “eradicated worldwide by vaccination programs” (the Random House Dictionary of the English Language). When it comes to science, you could say I have faith.

Also on Thursday morning there was a bit of good news, which arrived in the form of a New York Times update, headlined: “The pandemic is in retreat.” The number of new virus cases is down, the number of vaccinations is on the rise, and “deaths have begun to decline.” Good news, indeed. However, “the overall situation is still bad.” More than 2,500 Americans dying each day is horrifying. It remains as simple as that.

Yet a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research says close to a third of Americans say they “definitely or probably” won’t get the vaccine. You could say, hey, that means two-thirds have either already been vaccinated or plan to, but that still leaves a considerable number who don’t feel the vaccine will work and/or doubt its safety.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease authority, has indicated that from 70 percent to 85 percent of Americans need to get the vaccination to stop the virus, a perspective that makes those poll results dispiriting, and that new virus strains mean more urgency when it comes to more people getting the shots.

I say, OK, here’s my arm, but encounter “we are experiencing high call volumes” and similar messaging. So, it’s like hurry up and be patient.

Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic there was controversy in Hartford over a proposal to end a religious exemption from vaccinations for kids going to school. Hundreds of people came out for a state Capitol hearing that lasted more than 22 hours. That ended when the outbreak sent everyone home.

A year later, the issue is back, and the public hearing will be virtual and last 24 hours. As the AP reported, proponents of the legislation say too many concerned about vaccines are taking advantage of the religious exemption.

A similar issue is at play: You need enough students in schools, as you do people in the country when it comes to COVID-19, vaccinated in the effort to keep everyone safe.

After a year of wearing masks and staying away from people and other things you don’t need me to tell you about because you’ve gone through it, too, I’m more than ready to join the world of the vaccinated. Yet I would be willing to endure more months if it meant vaccinations for teachers and helping get kids back into schools. We’ve learned during the pandemic how lucky we are that technology enables distance learning, but also that it’s not the same. Too much is lost without in-person schooling. and the future is at stake.

An educated citizenry is what’s going to matter most in the long run, and that’s a goal for which I’m willing to be patient.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or jkurz@record-journal.com.






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