My eighth-grader cannot wait to get her COVID-19 vaccine. Gone are the days of needle dread, when every trip to the doctors office prompted the same anxious question: Will I have to get a shot?
Now the question is, How soon can I get vaccinated? and, Then can I hug my friends?
White, Republican men are the biggest anti-maskers and the least willing to get vaccinated.
The youngest, she will be the last one in our family to get the vaccine, approved this week for twelve- to fifteen-year-olds by the FDA, with the CDC expected to deliver final public health guidance shortly. She can hardly wait.
My oldest daughter, now in college, is already fully vaccinated. She was five years old when, during a flu shot appointment, she made a break for it. She ran all the way down the clinic hallway and out the revolving door. She was headed for the parking lot when I caught up with her and dragged her back insidea scene neither of us will ever forget.
For years she hated needles. In high school she passed out cold after a series of shots at that same doctors office. But she, too, was delighted when she became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and rushed to get an appointment. It was great, she saidnothing to it.
Lets hope all the vaccine-hesitant people in our lives undergo a similar transformation, from leery to gung-ho.
As public health officials keep reminding us, we need everyone who can get a COVID-19 shot to get one, so we can achieve herd immunity and get our lives back.
We are on the brink, this spring, of getting back to normal.
I recently started going into the Wisconsin Examiner office, after a winter spent sitting around the house with my loved ones, staring at our separate screens and bumping into each other as we cruised the kitchen and binged on crackers. Dont get me wrong, its wonderful to have the option to work from home, and cozy to be with the family.
Everyone enjoyed it, for a while. Especially the dog. But its amazing to be back in the world again. The first day I visited our silent office after a year away, I cleared up yellowing newspapers with headlines from March 2020 about the pandemic, threw away dried flower petals scattered across the carpet by a bouquet that was quickly turning to dust.
Now, I look out the window and see crowded cafe tables on the street below. I hear bubbling conversation and music from the coffee shop downstairs. The coffee crowd slowly gives way to the after-work beer crowd as the sun sinks behind the Capitol. It feels like the world is coming alive again, especially in the beautiful spring weather.
We cant hibernate forever.
You would think the Reopen crowd would be thrilled by the success of Wisconsins tops-in-the-nation vaccination program, and eager to get their shots and put the pandemic behind us. But alas, you would be wrong about that.
Our own Senator Ron Johnsonthe same guy who said COVID-19 deaths were not such a big deal, that people needed to get back to work early in the pandemic and that stay-at-home orders were not worth the economic cost, is pushing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. Johnson claimed on rightwing talker Vicki McKennas radio show last week that lots of people have died after getting the vaccine, and cited those (debunked) statistics as a reason for sticking up for people who choose not to get vaccinated.
Johnson, an Ayn Rand acolyte, truly does not seem to grasp the concept of public healthor society, for that matter. If youhave avaccine, quite honestly, whatdo you care ifyour neighbor has one or not? he said, firmly staking out the political terrain that opposes the control of contagious disease.
This is the same guy who publicized snake oil remedies for COVI-19 at a U.S. Senate hearing, to the dismay of doctors.
No surprise, then, that he was an outlier no vote on Tuesday when Andrea Palm, the former head of Wisconsins Department of Health Services, sailed through Senate confirmation to become the No. 2 at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Palm must be so delighted to be moving up and out from Wisconsin, after enduring relentless attacks from state Republicans just for doing her job and trying to protect us all from a deadly virus. Johnsons no vote is practically an endorsement.
What is it with our states Republican leaders? Why must they start a war with sane public health policies in the middle of a public health crisis? Why must they opposemasks and social distancing and vaccination? Couldnt they pick one?
White, Republican men are the biggest anti-maskers and the least willing to get vaccinated. Some of the same dont tread on me sign carriers who gathered on the State Capitol lawn to protest Governor Tony Everss stay-at-home order last spring appear to have moved on to the Alliant Center, holding some of the same signs objecting to the nanny state while promoting Johnson-esque anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.
Driving past this crowd reminded me of chasing my daughter through the revolving door when she was running away from her shot. Irrational fear is hard to control. The least our political leaders can do is not give it a running start.
Instead, they should remind people how badly they wanted to reopen the state a year ago. Nows their chance. Get vaccinated, so we can get back to normal.
If my shot-resistant kids can do it, so can all of those Republican men. Because Im getting too old to chase you through the parking lot.
This article first appeared in the Wisconsin Examiner.
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