After a long, troubling year this spring feels like more than your typical season of rebirth. The ability to get outside again, the blossoms, and the budding green leaves are speaking to us like they always do. But on top of that there is another budding; one of hope that, with the escalation of the COVID vaccination roll out, we can soon be getting back to normal.
It’s a sense we feel here at the Carter County Times as well, and one we’re truly looking forward to.
But, that said, it isn’t time to let our guards down yet. The vaccines seem to be doing great, but there are still some things we don’t know about the virus. We don’t know if the vaccines are going to work against all of the newly developed variants of COVID-19. We don’t know if vaccinated folks can still spread the virus to others if they are exposed, even if they don’t develop symptoms themselves. We don’t know how long the vaccines will be good for, or if future boosters will be needed.
We just don’t know.
We’re also seeing some rare and shocking side effects that may make some folks reluctant to get a vaccine. One man developed a severe rash in the days after taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that caused his skin to become inflamed and to peel and flake across his entire body.
In Europe, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is being used, there was some concern about fatal blood clots associated with vaccination. It was later determined that the instance of blood clots among those vaccinated was no more statistically significant than the instance of blood clots among the general population – in fact it may have been lower – but the damage was done. Some European politicians have temporarily frozen the use of the vaccine, which still isn’t approved for use in the United States, despite advice from doctors and healthcare professionals to continue moving forward apace. This action, obviously, will slow the return to business as usual, especially when you consider the number of people who have already taken their first dose and now can’t receive their second.
These are both issues that should be taken seriously. But, as healthcare professionals pointed out, these are extremely rare side effects – if they are side effects at all. While the Johnson & Johnson reaction was unequivocally determined to be related to the vaccine, the jury is still out on any connection between AstraZencea’s vaccine and blood clotting.
Though these are reasons for concern, and you should definitely act quickly if you experience any adverse effects after taking a vaccination, they are not good reasons to cancel or delay vaccination.
Experts are already warning about the dangers of a potential “fourth wave” as folks grow lackadaisical in their mask and sanitation routines, the desire for social interaction outpaces their concerns about the virus, and new variants enter the mix.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we aren’t out of the dark just yet. Now is not the time to let our guards down, no matter how much we might be tempted to do so.
If you do choose to go out, please continue to respect social distancing and continue to wear your mask. Even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you should continue to wear your mask for the time being. Think of it like your seat belt in your car. You hope you never need it. You may not even realize just what a difference it has made. But you’re being asked to wear it for a reason. Only – in the case of masks – it isn’t just for your own safety but the safety of those around you as well.
The CDC has advised that small groups and households, where all the adults have been fully vaccinated, can gather together unmasked. This means that you can have your best friends and their children over for dinner again. It means that grandparents can hug their grandchildren again. It means that things are getting back to normal.
Those extra feelings of promise and hope that have accompanied this spring are real. Feel hopeful. Feel excited. Be happy. But be safe.
We still have the final mile to make.