Times Editorial: If you’re a vaccine-have, respect the vaccine-have-nots
It’s starting to happen. There’s something besides politics that is starting to divide us as a nation: The COVID-19 vaccine. As more and more demographic groups included in this tier or that tier make their way to the front of the line to get a dose of vaccine poked into their arms, more and more people, while smiling on the outside but gritting their teeth on the inside, are wondering with increasing intensity, “What about me? When is it my turn?”
We’re becoming a nation of vaccine-haves, and vaccine-have-nots.
The tension is invading our workplaces and homes and is impacting our closest, most intimate relationships. Evidence of this new phenomenon turned up last week, when an editorial/opinion cartoon available for download on a Washington Post opinion content site the Times frequently utilizes depicted a husband and wife having dinner at home. At one end of the dining room table, the wife is gushing with joy over the fact that she’s been vaccinated, while at the other end, her husband, who is not yet eligible to receive a dose, is clearly wound up tight but is still trying to act happy for her. And yet, he’s gnawing on his fork even though there’s no food on it.
Certainly, there’s another angle to this, and that’s the importance of highlighting the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. So as we see a lot of prominent people and normal people alike going on social media to show their friends in the digital world that they’re getting the vaccine – “I’m actually weeping!” one very dramatic woman announced. – there’s a positive take-away, even if your first instinct as a person not yet eligible to be vaccinated is to say, “Geez, do you have to rub our noses in the fact that you’re getting vaccinated?” And that positive take-away is this: When it’s your turn, don’t think twice. Get vaccinated!
It’s crazy that this is even an issue worthy of debate. Getting vaccinated protects you from contracting COVID-19, of course, but just as important is the fact that it prevents you from passing the virus onto someone else, whether it’s a loved one, friend, colleague or someone you meet in the grocery aisle.
The Joe Biden administration has said the Fourth of July might be an appropriate time to celebrate in more normal fashion, with everyone who wants the vaccine – Again, why would anyone NOT want the vaccine? – getting vaccinated by then. Combined with herd immunity, we could be in good shape by then.
But it’s still March. Independence Day is a ways off. So between now and then, if you get vaccinated sooner rather than later, go ahead and be overcome with relief. Be happy, even overjoyed if the moment overwhelms you. But amid your jubilation, please realize that there are still a lot of people waiting for their turn, and maybe also wondering why they aren’t important enough to get a dose.
If there’s something positive we can hang our hats on in the meantime, it’s that with each passing day, there are more vaccine-haves, and fewer vaccine have-nots.