I’m dreaming of a COVID Christmas

When will we reach widespread immunization?

coronavirusThough I knew it was possible, seeing the spike in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths has been demoralizing. More to the point, watching the numbers in some categories more than double from October to November in Albany County is acutely troubling.

Since my father-in-law died of a non-COVID-related disease on April 22 of this year, my wife had driven out to Oneonta, NY to help her mom with the cleaning and shopping. Right before Thanksgiving, our family was discussing plans. My daughter and I thought that making the 70-mile trek wasn’t that good an idea.

My wife said that maybe she’d go alone for a day or two. We believed that she was missing the concern. My daughter is going to school at home. I don’t go to many places. My wife, conversely, is going to work every day, teaching students face-to-face and dealing with colleagues whose protocols while not at school are unknown. It was my MIL who finally put the kibosh on the trip.

A friend of mine is a nurse at Albany Medical Center. On December 1, they had a strike action over many issues, most of which predated COVID. In a non-epidemic period, I would have joined the picket line. Not now.


My Grammarly account analyzed my writings from the second to the third week in November.

1. Neutral 15‌% +5%
2. Formal 14‌% +1%
3. Confident 13‌% -6% that’s about right
4. Friendly 8‌% -2%
5. Optimistic 8‌% -5% certainly accurate
6. Worried 8‌% +4% yup
7. Sad 6‌% +2% I’ll accept that

Even the places I’ve gone to in the past – CVS, grocery store, takeout restaurant food – I visit less often. In part, it’s because of the vaccines on the horizon. It seems that people are getting cocky about when we’ll get back to “normal.” There will be enough doses to treat about six percent of New Yorkers, primarily health care workers and the elderly in facilities, before the end of 2020.

As someone over 65, I expect/hope to get at least one of the two necessary doses by St. Patrick’s Day 2021. And, barring new information, I will take the injections when they are made available.

This article from FORBES is consistent with some other pieces I’ve read. When will we reach widespread immunization— roughly 70% of the population? In the spring? By July 4? In a year? Or will it take far longer? Will “the overwhelming majority of people” elect to be inoculated?

But the “surge upon a surge” that is happening now, I fear, will become worse during the December holidays and the weeks thereafter. I already know ours will be a low-key COVID Christmas and New Years. I’m hoping others can just hang on just a little while longer with social distancing, mask-wearing, and other precautions.

Trying to understand the anti-vaccination movement

Those of us who know the importance of immunization need to continue to talk about it with facts and compassion.

measles.CDCMeasles – MEASLES!, which were all but eradicated in the United States by 2000 – has been experiencing a comeback in 2014. This was due almost entirely to unvaccinated people, who catch it from other unvaccinated people.

Surely, we can just dismiss some of the anti-vaxx discussion as political posturing by Chris Christie and Rand Paul and especially Sean Hannity of FOX.

But what can we do to try to UNDERSTAND this choice by what someone called The Know Better Party? (Check out the great links to the facts about vaccines.)

There is an interesting article in the New Republic, Don’t Blame Anti-Vaxxers for the Measles Outbreak. Blame American Culture. that says: “Parents who opt out of vaccines come to their decisions by prioritizing the very virtues American culture readily recommends: freedom of choice, consumer primacy, individualism, self-determination, and a dim, almost cynical view of common goods like public health.”

Miriam Axel-Lute, an Albany writer, commented there, and on her Facebook page:

So I agree that what this author is describing is a problem in American culture, but in my experience it doesn’t line up well at all with who opposes/opts out of vaccines. Here’s my theory… Vaccine opposition tends to be concentrated in places where people have the resources and wherewithal to challenge the medical model of birth–and there they are on very solid scientific ground.

If you have just gone through pregnancy and birth, deflecting a whole lot of scare-tactic hooey about how home birth and cosleeping are both criminally dangerous, you can’t drink anything in labor, episotomies are necessary, etc. and have been given all sorts of stupid conflicting information about breastfeeding and milk supply from professionals who ought to know better, you are very primed to be skeptical of the medical consensus and likely to believe instead the people who were more helpful and accurate on those other topics…

Original Title: FluVac25sRGBAs someone who supported his wife’s decision to change ob-gyns in her ninth month of pregnancy because her old doctor had dismissed our birth plan, there is definitely a credibility issue with the medical establishment in terms of childbirth and children’s needs, generally, e.g. the overuse/overprescription of antibiotics.

A participant in the very civilized Facebook discussion noted: “When people argue something like vaccines should be mandatory… it is in the same vein as forced c-section/forced hospital birth/illegal midwives.” Or it may certainly feel that way.

My point is NOT to say no to vaccines but to try to understand the other point of view, so we can try to change their minds. For instance, convincing reluctant parents to vaccinate their child by explaining the “backfire effect”. This parent-to-parent approach in this Mother Jones article may be instructive.

In short: Don’t Call Them Dumb: Experts on Fighting the Anti-Vaccine Movement: “People enjoy lashing out at anti-vaccine folks, (but) it turns into an ‘us versus them’ thing…They are committed to that point of view. You can provoke a kind of backlash reaction if you are not careful,” with even fewer people getting vaccinated. Most people do not respond well to feeling bullied.

Those of us who know the importance of immunization need to continue to talk about it with facts and compassion, rather than with vitriol, disdain, and schadenfreude, mostly because the latter attitudes simply won’t work.

Guess which state is #1 in vaccinations. Nope, not my guess, either.

A fellow named Rob made a cogent comment on this debate:

“In most of these cases [of public debate] (overprescribing drugs, climate change denial, gun ownership), there are marketing and PR firms making untold sums of money to stoke public fears and doubts about scientific research. That is one thing that sets the anti-vax crowd apart – no one is making lots of money off of people NOT vaccinating, at least not on the scale of these other issues. And maybe that could explain why they are the targets of such intense vitriol: they don’t have multi-million dollar disinformation campaigns bolstering their credibility.”
Film Review: When There Was No Vaccine.

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