Vaccines, Again

A couple years ago, I wrote a blog post about vaccines and how becoming vaccinated protects those among us who are unable to be vaccinated. Since then, as we all know, the plague hit. I feel like it’s time to revisit the topic of vaccines with my personal slant. Because there’s a side to this topic that haunts me, which very few people know about.

When the plague known as COVID-19 first hit I wasn’t really worried about my own chances of survival. I’m strong and healthy, and while I never doubted that it would suck to have COVID, I didn’t think it would really hurt me long-term. Gracie, however, is a different story. “Healthy” is a word that has never applied to her, and with her slow healing and antibiotic resistance, a bout with COVID could be life-threatening for her.

When I was able to receive the COVID vaccine, I cried tears of relief and gratitude. I had assumed that because I was a healthy work-from-home-mom, I would be the very last person eligible for the vaccine, but when I became a CNA, the home health agency that employs me offered me the opportunity to get the COVID vaccine. It was amazing and I cannot begin to express the gratitude I felt to so many people/entities—the home health agency, the scientists who developed the vaccine, the people working so hard at the vaccine clinics, etc. My vaccinated status provided a layer of protection to Gracie that brought an immeasurable sense of relief during an otherwise anxiety-fraught time.

Before too long, the vaccine became available to all people 16 years old and older. Although the plague hadn’t ended, millions of people received their vaccines, providing even more security for our grocery store and Target outings. And then the vaccine was opened up for anyone 12 and older. Many more lined up to get their shots, Jackson included. It was a proud day for me when my son pulled up his sleeve for the COVID shot. He absolutely wanted the vaccine—he said, “Duh. Of course I want it. Why would I want to get COVID?”

But millions more refused the vaccine. One of those vaccine-refusers is my husband.

Shocking, right? That someone with an immunocompromised child could refuse a vaccine? That someone could cite concerns with the way COVID has been reported (well over 600,000 people have died in the U.S. alone! If even a third of those were incorrectly reported, that’s still almost half a million people!)? Or the fact that most of the people who have died are over age 75 (HOW does that justify anything?!)? Or that the vaccine is made with a new scientific process, previously untested (yay science! yay progress! yay technology!)?

And here I am so grateful for the modern medical technology, so ready and willing to receive a vaccine. My husband and I could not be more different.

COVID is again surging, well into 2021, with the rise of the deadly Delta variant. The Delta variant is causing more severe illness among younger people—previously healthy people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are requiring hospitalization. The difference is that the vast majority of those who are so ill they need hospital care are the unvaccinated. You know, like Gracie and Chad. Gracie is unvaccinated because she is not eligible for the vaccine; it’s still being tested for children aged 2-12. Elliot is also unvaccinated, though he is healthy and strong like me. And Chad is unvaccinated because he believes COVID is not serious to anyone under age 75, and that the previously untested vaccine is not safe.

I’m sure you can imagine that our differing stances on vaccinations have caused many fights between my husband and me. That’s not the only issue causing fights, naturally, but it’s certainly a hot topic. When we got married, we knew we were very different people—Chad used to say, “I’m a Republican and you’re a Democrat and that explains it all.” Perhaps that is still the defining rift in our marriage, but ever since Trumppa the Hutt’s evil reign, that rift is much more pronounced. It’s such a wide chasm that it seems impossible to find a way across.

Maybe if I hadn’t had Gracie I would be a science-denier, too. But I’ve seen modern medicine save her life many, many times. I’ve been forced to rely on doctors—even ones I didn’t particularly like—to offer her life-saving treatment more times than I can count. And I do not believe that anyone is “out to get us” or has any ulterior motive for creating a new class of vaccines. Honestly, I think it’s amazing to be on the cutting edge of scientific technology. If that makes me a sheeple, so be it. Baa.

So there’s my dirty little secret. For all my pro-vax stance, for all my trusting modern medicine and working SO HARD to keep my daughter alive and as healthy as possible, I’m as good as a hypocrite. My own household is not fully protected. I cannot force my husband to get vaccinated, and no amount of facts and reason will sway him. No amount of marriage counseling will bridge this divide. This may just be the hill our marriage dies on.

I don’t know how this story will end. But I can only hope that it will NOT end with Gracie contracting COVID and ending up in the hospital. I can only hope that she will be able to stay well until vaccines are available for kids her age. And I can only hope that someday, somehow, my husband will see reason and get the vaccine—but I don’t think he will.

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