Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Yesterday (as of the writing of this post) I was in the grocery store when a young woman approached me coincidentally as she was walking into the isle in the opposite direction. She was not wearing a mask, but I was as the sign at the entrance noted that the store still recommends masks for all shoppers. As she saw me, without my asking, she immediately launched into an apology and explanation that she had been vaccinated despite the fact that I didn’t ask and had not said anything to her.
The abruptness of her apology really struck me, but I understand. We’re in a time when it’s not unlike the changing of seasons. In the spring, I often find myself struggling with whether or not to wear a jacket, and if I’m wrong, I just feel like a fool. I think masks are the same way. For over a year, we’ve been wearing these masks and have lived through the “nay-sayer” stage where refusal to wear a mask was simply a way for some people to make the political statement that the minor inconvenience to their rights is far more significant that the health and lives of the people around them.
Now the CDC is saying that it’s okay to go without masks for those who have been fully vaccinated. This basically translates to “no right answer”. If I wear my mask, will others assume it’s because I’ve not been, or have even refused to be vaccinated? If I don’t wear a mask, will people assume that it’s because I’ve had my vaccination, or that I’ve never had a vaccination and never wore a mask as a protest?
I feel for this young woman. We struck up a conversation wherein she explained to me that she was a nurse (and I thanked her for her service when she told me) and I told her that I had been vaccinated, very early in fact, as part of a vaccination trial before it was approved. Her response to me was that I had the wrong vaccination, but I didn’t. Heck, I’m still in the study, and they’re still testing my blood for antigens, so I know I’m still good. But that’s okay; to each their own.
As far as wearing masks or not, I still defer to the request of the store. At my shooting-range, they never required masks. At least not as long as I have been a member (which admittedly was only a few months ago). I do have respect for them, though, as they really left it up to the individuals. Their sign welcomed customers to wear masks or not as they are comfortable. At the business where my mailbox is, on the other hand, they still request masks to protect those working inside. I respect that. Because there are changing policies now, I do still carry my mask and put it on when requested.
There are a few shots on the market today, some better than others. One of the vaccinations (I will not say which) has only a seventy-ish percent effectiveness. Even this one is good, though. Maybe a little less than a third will not develop antigens, but those who do will still add to the “herd immunity” that will, hopefully, eliminate all remaining restrictions. Now they are looking at the various shots and their effectiveness against mutated viruses. Just like the common flu, the virus will pick up modifications from one infected person to the next and change. This is why one flu shot only contains antigens for the anticipated most common strains as opposed to all of them. I’m fortunate in that my company’s shot seems to be one of the most effective against even the mutated forms.
What’s still up in the air is how long these shots will keep us immune. Unlike the common flu, we learned last summer that it does not disappear with the warming weather as the flu appears to. It’s a year-round problem, so along with looking at new strains, there is research into “booster” shots. Some shots, like the MMR shot, is supposed to be all we need in our lifetime. One shot to make us immune should last, but its effectiveness does begin to drop eventually. Maybe it won’t drop to zero, but it’s still recommended that older people get a “booster” shot. That would be akin to the Covid booster shot if, indeed, it is necessary.
We’re getting there. We’re starting to see some return to normalcy, but now is not the time to relax either. Please continue to follow the science and the CDC guidelines.