I Was Vaccinated, and I Fear No More

A coronavirus vaccine syringe

By Jonathan Spira on 10 March 2021
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Immediately after getting my first coronavirus inoculation, I felt like a, superman, albeit not quite in the sense of Nietzsche’s Übermensch.  Of course I realized that my journey through the Age of the Coronavirus was far from over, but it was one step closer to a beginning of a return to normalcy.

On a recent Sunday, I received my second vaccine shot and that evening, headed to the restaurant Daniel, a well-known French restaurant in New York City, to celebrate, albeit in an extremely Coronavirus-safe manner as I sat in a private cabana on the sidewalk alongside many other such posh cabanas erected by the establishment.  Soon, I will even venture into the dining room of a similar fine establishment.

Granted, “fully” inoculated status is two weeks away but I am formulating plans.

Although I typically have done most of my grocery shopping online, I last was in a supermarket on March 3, 2020.  It was a Spar near where I lived in Vienna on the Stubenring.  I haven’t been to the theater since that time either: The last performance I attended was “My Fair Lady” at the Volksoper in Vienna, preceded by the play “Leopoldstadt” in London a few days earlier.  I was scheduled to see “Six” opening night the following week but, of course, that show sadly never opened.

My plan for the past year has been to return to Vienna as my first trip after gaining fully inoculated status, but that may not come to fruition because, even as a citizen, I would be subject to quarantine unless something changes in the coming weeks.  Right now, it looks like Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the city where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, a move that led to the First World War, is in my sights for late March or early April.

On a shorter term basis, since movie theaters have already reopened in New York City with capacity constraints, it looks like the cinema will be the only type of theater I get to sit in while Broadway houses remain dark.  Indeed, a visit to Nordstrom or Saks sounds like it would be a delight, even if I only end up window shopping.

Even though there are 11 days remaining, I started to appreciate some of the smallest things in life.  Walks with Snickers the Wonderdog were admittedly sometimes a bit hurried: Even though we were outdoors, there was always the big “what if,” as in what if someone with the virus walks past us sans mask and sneezes.  Now Snickers revels in the fact that the spring flowers are starting to bloom (it is, of course meteorological spring already) and I let him take his time.  Daring? Perhaps so.  But I am a risk taker at heart.

As more and more people across the globe become inoculated against the coronavirus, its spread will be significantly diminished by reducing the R0 factor, which indicates the number of people one infected person will pass on a virus to.  If the R value is higher than one, then the number of cases will keep increasing.

At the very least some of the vaccines will have a strong transmission-blocking effect, in addition to the well-known clinical findings that the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines prevent the disease.   Of course there are many questions remaining, the elephant in the room being the virus variants, although the jury is still out on whether some or all of the vaccines that have been approved will work against all of the mutations out in the wild.

Regardless, when I left Abraham Lincoln High School after my first jab, I took a deep breath and felt a rush of emotional relief.  I no longer felt like a defenseless target whom any random passer by could shoot with an aerosol or droplet.  The feeling I had leaving Hillcrest High School after the second jab was only slightly more euphoric.  Freedom was within my reach, only 14 days away.

As I write this, the world has administered more than 309.3 million doses, the equivalent of four doses for every 100 people and around 23.5% of the population in the United States over the age of 18 has received at least one dose and 12.3% have received both doses. The numbers in the United States are good and getting better every day but the ones getting the vaccine now are the ones who were already predisposed to the idea and fall into the category of healthcare worker, essential worker, frontline worker, and categories such as school teacher or nursing home resident. The problem lies with the 20% of the U.S. population that says it will get vaccinated but first wants to wait, and 15% who say they will not get it and an additional 7% that will only get it if it’s somehow “required,” according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

With the exception of a small percentage of the population where a personal physician recommends specifically against vaccination, getting jabbed should be obvious.  The issue at hand, however is that it’s clearly not obvious to as many as it ought to be.  And therein lies the rub: Given that it doesn’t really hurt, the side-effects are minimal (none for me after the first jab, 12 hours of feeling unwell after the second, and zero side effects for the overwhelming majority of those who are inoculated), and it works with up to 95% efficacy in preventing the onset of the coronavirus, one thing should be clear, namely that if you are offered the vaccine, run, don’t walk, to get it.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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