Well, ‘waiting to vaccinate’ didn’t last long.

A week ago Saturday, my wife and I spotted a local news item: the city was setting up a walk-in vaccination site at a park that we commonly visit on Sundays.  They were offering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose and therefore no follow-up.

My wife decided it was time for her to get the shot.  She doesn’t like having to make reservations, and bristled at the idea of having to come back for a second dose, as required for the other vaccines.  And I, following what is perhaps the quaint notion that marriage includes sharing risks, felt I should join her.

So last Sunday, we went to the park.  They were pretty well-organized: it took us a half-hour, including sitting 15 minutes ‘just in case’ after the shot.  Since then, we’ve had no ill effects; neither my wife nor I have grown a tail (which would be fun, although we’d need to get new pants), no fever, no chills, no rashes, nothing.

And, just like that, I’ve been catapulted to the other side of the issue.  I no longer need to contemplate whether the vaccine is safe or not: for better or worse, I’ve already taken it.  I can go to baseball games, instead of maundering about how I can’t go because of Uncle Andy’s stupid rules.

OK, now that I’m vaccinated, and a week from now I’ll be ‘fully vaccinated,’ why should I have to wear a mask?

Because the alternative is far, far worse.

From almost the beginning, I’ve considered the mask as more of a social norm than as protective equipment.  It doesn’t really protect me; it may contain my emissions on the off case that I’m contagious but feeling OK.  And since I’ve been vaccinated, and I’m feeling OK right now, the ‘off case’ is becoming more and more remote by the day.

Still, I accept that I’ll have to wear a mask in public for now.

The most recent CDC rules posit that vaccinated individuals don’t have to wear masks unless on public transport or in settings like hospitals or jails.  OK, what about museums or movie theatres or gyms, where CDC rules no longer require masks for vaccinated individuals, but the non-vaccinated are still at risk?

If we say that vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks, but unvaccinated people still need them, how do we tell them apart?

The proper adult answer is that each of us should assess the risk, decide for ourselves whether a mask is needed, and it shouldn’t be a rule to wear a mask or not.  Alas, the proper adults have left our leadership some time ago.

If we’re going to maintain the notion that masks are necessary for public health, but only for the unvaccinated, there needs to be a foolproof, obvious way to tell the vaccinated from the unvaccinated.

Like tattoos, say, or insignia worn on one’s clothing?


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