I am fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. Now what?
I had been on the hunt for an available vaccine appointment for some time. Someone suggested I visit the New York Department of Health website.
I found the site in less than a minute and, with the blazing speed of experience, I filled out the same questionnaire I’d filled out dozens of times before, and without expectation, sent it into the digital abyss. This time, within 24 hours, I received notice of my appointment scheduled for Saturday at 2:40 pm at the Jacob Javits Center, a few blocks from my apartment.
The Javits center, more recently nick-named the ‘Jab-it’ center, is a multi-purpose space designed to host various large-scale events from Cosplay conventions to Boat shows. During the pandemic’s height, the Javits Center transformed into a triage field hospital for Covid-19 overflow, as hospital emergency rooms reached maximum capacity. Now, this enormous venue is the state’s largest vaccination center, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offering the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
I showed up early for my appointment, anticipating throngs of pushy New Yorkers whizzing about like worker-bees around a new hive; haphazardly waving appointment slips and flashing smartphone screen-shots, jumping from queue to queue in a race to be next in line. Instead, I found a well-organized and thoughtfully engineered ground plan of stanchions, lots of well-positioned, easy-to-read signage, and strategically placed military personnel to keep things running smoothly.
The check-in procedure consisted only of showing your appointment confirmation letter or email and identification. Which of the three vaccines you received was not an option. What you got was what you got. Stone-faced armed service members kept chit-chat and impertinent questions to a minimum. No one was rude, but they weren’t taking any shit from “those” people. You know the ones. Those individuals that just can’t shut up or leave well enough alone. They want to ask a million unrelated or already answered questions; they want to ‘upgrade’ their experience somehow, and mysteriously upon entering the building, lose the ability to read, follow instructions or utilize common sense.
I received the J&J vaccine and my experience, including the injection, was painless. I suffered no residual soreness, fatigue, or other side effects that some patients reported post-injection. Of the three vaccines currently being administered, the J&J version is the only one-dose ‘Hit it and quit it” type, so there isn’t a follow-up/second injection appointment. Whether your vaccine is one dose or two – there is a mandatory wait time of 15 minutes in a medically staffed and monitored post-vax lounge before you are officially encouraged to get the hell out of there and make way for the next herd.
On this particular Saturday, the weather in New York was spectacular, and I was feeling jazzed; my day was complete. I had done my civic duty. I put my vaccination card in my pocket and slapped a generic “I Got It!” sticker on my chest—time for Pinkberry.
Before leaving the Javits Center, standing on the Hudson River bank, looking over Midtown Manhattan, I took a moment. I wanted the historical enormity of the situation to sink in. In New York, I had been at the epicenter of the Covid-19 virus in America, staring this global pandemic in the face. Getting vaccinated is my way of saying: “Fuck you, Rona!” It’s time to take a stand.
At its peak, the death toll in New York was over eight hundred people a day. OVER 800 people A DAY. But not this day.
On this day, thanks to the men and women who tirelessly researched, worked and researched some more, there are three FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccines available – created in record time and designed to save our lives.
SO MUCH of 2020 was, and the foreseeable future will be, full of heroic, never-been-done-before moments. We can’t forget to acknowledge the scientists, military personnel, front-line healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, etc., who make these moments possible.
As Americans, we think we’re entitled to everything. Being the spoiled children of a military and economic Super-power, we expect shit to be handed to us just because we want it. No, bitch, it doesn’t work that way. The next time you catch yourself grabbing cheese to go with your whine list of petty grievances, shut your pie hole and take a breath. Instead, be grateful that you live in a great and capable country with the minds, resources, and means to develop and make available these vaccines to you – FOR FREE. Vaccines that will, at some point, most likely save your life or the life of someone you love.
Walking home, scraping the last bits of Cookies and Cream from the bottom of my Pinkberry ice cream cup, the initial feeling of the day’s accomplishment began to wane, and a troubling perspective came to mind. Okay, I have joined the ranks of New Yorkers who are fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. Now what?”
According to the latest research, getting a Covid-19 vaccination keeps the virus’s wrath at bay individually. But globally, to truly consider Covid-19 to be a manageable condition requires our planet to achieve herd immunity.
Herd Immunity is when a large portion of an area’s population is immune to a specific disease. If enough people are resistant to a disease-causing pathogen, that virus or bacteria has no room to develop. Conceptually, if a group, as a whole, has protection, there are fewer high-risk people overall, thereby decreasing infection rates. As a result, the disease withers away to nothing.
That’s a difficult concept to wrap one’s head around, so for the sake of this discussion, let’s do what Americans do best and make it all about us. If there is any hope of returning to the pre-Covid lifestyle everyone is clamoring for; the United States needs to reach the threshold of herd immunity. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser on Covid-19, estimates that between 70% and 85% of America’s population would need to receive the vaccine for the U.S. to achieve herd immunity. The biggest obstacle facing America in attaining this goal is the anti-vaccination movement.
Before this pandemic, I never understood the dangerous influence the anti-vaccine movement has on our nation’s well-being. It didn’t seem possible that a fringe group of loud-mouthed, science-rejecting radicals could actually become a group of like-minded thinkers (and I use that term loosely) large enough to be considered a movement – but they have, and their numbers are increasing. The anti-vax movement is increasingly putting the health and re-normalization of our country in jeopardy, so much so that some are considering anti-vaxxers to be America’s new terrorists.
Opposition to vaccination is as old as vaccination itself. There will always be those who will go against the grain and buck the system just because they’re assholes. It’s human nature. Until now, the anti-vaccine movement has kept a low profile, largely underground, and flying below the radar of our American watch list. What is concerning today is that the anti-vaccination movement is now stepping into the spotlight and is using the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to further their agenda by aggressively promoting misinformation about Covid vaccines to the point of falsifying death claims so that they appear vaccine-related.
With millions of people being vaccinated, it is inevitable, by mere coincidence, that some vaccinated patients will also experience some subsequent “side effects” unrelated to the vaccine. The anti-vaccination movement is taking advantage of that to create fear and doubt in the minds of others. Their propaganda is working, and the internet is helping it thrive. This recent year has seen a surge of false information about Covid-19 spreading online. A recent survey revealed that individuals who relied on social media for information on the pandemic were more hesitant and suspicious of any potential vaccine.
A new report by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has openly chastised social media companies for allowing so much false anti-vaccine information to remain on their platforms. By allowing outdated, known misinformation to stay online, social media platforms have primed the pump for anti-vaxxers eager to jump on the opportunity presented by the coronavirus. This tactic has anti-vax membership numbers exploding. The report notes that social media accounts held by anti-vaxxers have increased their following by 8 million people since 2019. Also, related surveys show that 31 million people are now following anti-vaccine Facebook groups, and 17 million subscribe to similar YouTube accounts.
How is this possible? Because even though the anti-vax groups are smaller than pro-vax groups, there are more of them, and their messages are more passionate and persuasive. Anti-vaxxers are better at spreading their message beyond their social media circles, steadily increasing their following. The CCDH warns that an increasing anti-vaccination movement could undermine the roll-out of any future vaccine against Covid-19.
Who are the anti-vaxxers? Who are these nay-sayers who reject science and poison the internet with erroneous information and fabricated facts, and why? Their reasons are as varied as their backgrounds.
The anti-vaccination movement consists of an amalgam of people. Some anti-vax conspiracy theorists think that our government is hiding the ‘real’ Covid19 medicines from the public to turn a profit; others believe that Bill Gates is using them to plant microchips in people. Some believe that the vaccine will turn them into antennas for 5G wireless technology — “Can you hear me now?”
And then there are those anti-vaxers who are too prideful to accept science as fact and would rather die than be mistaken. As much credit as #45 would like to take for developing the current vaccines, it was only a few years ago that he supported and repeated the false information that vaccines cause autism. Such a dick.
Here’s the tea: The anti-vax movement threatens the health and well-being of the global population. Being vaccinated matters and benefits everyone, not just the individual. Any hopes of restoring our old way of living is a collective responsibility. At this point, there is no cure, but these vaccines will keep you and your children from dying.
This message falls upon our shoulders to deliver; more importantly, on the shoulders of community organizations, IG influencers, religious leaders, etc. The best way to combat ignorance is through education and due diligence.
The people who most need to hear this message are not the anti-vaxxers or the pro-vaxxers. Each of those groups has made up their minds and will act accordingly. The people most in need of receiving accurate and updated information about the coronavirus and the vaccines available to control it are undecided about whether or not they will receive the vaccine. It’s to those people I offer this advice:
Get your heads out of your asses and get the vaccine. We (including you) have a social responsibility to the millions of people who’ve lost their jobs to the pandemic. We owe it to our nation’s children, who have become socially and educationally deprived due to the coronavirus. We owe it to the elderly and the at-risk populations who now live with increased fear of becoming sick, and we owe it to the hundreds of thousands who have lost their lives due to a phenomenon no one saw coming.
Getting a Covid-19 is the patriotic thing to do. If you love your country, get the vaccine. If you support our previous administrations’ ideology and genuinely want to Make America Great Again, now is your chance. Don’t look to social media or extremist groups for medical information or advice. Find people within your community that you trust, that have skin in the game, and whose opinion you value. Please make your own decisions, but make them based on fact-based, unbiased information and is in accordance with returning to the quality of life we claim we so desperately want.
At this point, getting vaccinated is not universally mandated or required by law. But I think it should be. Until then, I suggest that we establish solid incentives. For example: If you want to travel, see a concert, shop at department stores, go to sporting events, visit museums, or go to the movies, show your proof of vaccination card.
We need a driver’s license to legally drive a car in this country because vehicles can be dangerous and deadly. A driver’s license shows that you are mature enough to understand and accept the responsibility that comes with operating a car. It shows that you have received adequate and essential driver’s education and have demonstrated the ability to use a vehicle lawfully. Requiring a proof of vaccination shouldn’t be much different.
If determining which of the three current vaccines is suitable for you is delaying your decision, take the advice of qualified medical professionals, which is: “Whatever vaccine is available on the day of your appointment is the right one for you.”
If you’re reading this and haven’t been vaccinated, please, make an appointment and get it done. And if at this point you are still caught up in the juvenile clap-back of “Why should I?” The answer is simple: Because it’s the right thing to do.
Thank you for reading. Agree? Disagree? You can always drop me a line at RyanRockfordNYC@gmail.com, subj: Rockford Files. Until next time.