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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Life After Pandemic (LAP)

So, how's it going? Had your vaccinations? Now well beyond the two-week "be-safe" waiting period so that the vaccine is at its full efficacy? Feeling as if a sledgehammer that's been whacking at your brain for more than a year has at long last been lugged to the garbage?

If you're like a lot of people, you took a few baby steps into the world before you plowed ahead full speed. It was almost as if you were agoraphobic and unable to leave the safety of your home after having been holed up for so damn long.

And then come the confusing pronouncements from the CDC about whether you should wear a mask outside or inside with only people who have also been vaccinated or inside with anyone. Yikes! It's a confusing world out there.

I live in a progressive community with more than 80% of the population either fully vaccinated or waiting for their second shot. I have felt safer here than anywhere else. Still, demasking has been a process. I feel safe not wearing a mask outside in public but guilty after passing many mask-wearing folks. Do they think I'm irresponsible--that I'm not wearing a mask because I don't give a damn? Or do they think I'm boasting because "Nah, Nah, Nah" I'm fully vaccinated and they're not? It's unsettling. The last thing I want is for a conscientious citizen to think that I'm bucking the system and putting others at risk. I don't know . . . maybe it's the oldest child syndrome whereby I'm hard-wired to set a good example.

A dear friend passed away after a long battle with cancer and all of its insidious side effects. He was 81. Much too young. My husband and I went to his home to spend time with his wife and two adult children. We sat close around the kitchen island and swapped stories, laughed, and cried. At one point, I reached up to straighten my mask and to make sure that it covered my mouth and nose--a developed habit over the past year. There was no mask. For a brief moment, I panicked but quickly realized that I wasn't wearing a mask because I didn't have to. Everyone in the room had been vaccinated for at least a month. "We're free!" I yelled. "We're free!"

Well, hold up! What about those variants? Do the current vaccines give us near-blanket protection? And what happens when states, municipalities, and individual cities declare that masks are no longer required? Period. Without some kind of ID card or, who knows, an implanted chip, how can we separate the wheat from the shaft, the good guys from the bad guys? Alas, I have no doubt that there will be those folks who have not been or plan to get vaccinated but will want the freedom of those of us who have.

In "Meet the Four Kinds of People Holding Us Back From Full Vaccination," an opinion piece by Sema Sgaier, New York Times, May 18, 2021, Sgaier details the people who have not been vaccinated and why. I recommend the piece because the writer does an excellent job of suggesting steps to be taken to help convince many of those folks to get fully vaccinated.

Do you know anyone in one of the four groups? Have you had or attempted to have a non-confrontational discussion? I know that can be a challenge. But as you hear all the time about any number of dicey circumstances, helping to change one person's mind does make a difference.

I admit: my circle of friends and acquaintances revolves around those who share most of my core opinions and values. In fact, I know of only one person who has not been vaccinated. (Make that two: our heating and cooling guy hasn't been vaccinated, even though both his wife and mother had Covid19. His rationale: I didn't get sick, so why bother?) The other unvaccinated person I know lives in Mexico, teaches yoga, meditates, reads, eats healthfully but hasn't worn a mask, and refuses to get vaccinated. She is a gentle but strong-willed soul, and there is nothing I can say or do to change her mind. I've tried.

I cross my fingers that my friend doesn't get sick or unwittingly get someone else sick. And I cross my fingers that if and when my husband and I are able to return to Mexico, my teacher will have seen the "light" and gotten her shots. For now, our communication is via Zoom.


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