Four hard loud knocks on the wooden door outside my bedroom jolt me awake in the very early morning. They sound urgent as if someone really needs to get in. It’s still dark out and just before 3 a.m. I lay there listening and waiting for another knock. It doesn’t come. The outdoor lights are off which means there is no one outside. It’s happened many times before while I’m sleeping, loud knocking that interrupts what I’m dreaming. It’s a reoccurring experience, except it isn’t happening in the physical world. Often I get up and check to see if anyone is there, but it’s always the same; it’s just a weird dream within a dream.
Awake. I lay there thinking about the events of the past couple of years and specifically the past few days. I had planned and worked toward being in Maui for most of September, it’s been two and half years since Terry and I have been able to go. The night before I was to fly out from Edmonton in the morning I was all settled in the hotel at the airport. I had a lovely dinner in the bistro. Then, I developed a headache and sniffles and didn’t sleep well. I suspected that I had contracted a breakthrough infection of COVID 19.
It was a real moral dilemma for me. I certainly felt well enough to fly but didn’t know how the virus would progress in my system. All research around double vaccinated people indicated that I would have a mild infection that would clear up in a few days. I’d had both my Pfizer shots months before. I’d read a well researched article from the Atlantic that eased my fears about the course the infection would take.
And of course there was the issue of infecting others on the flight, certainly something that I did not want to do. I found myself in an ethical conundrum. Anyone flying at this point must have tested negative, as I had a couple of days earlier, and most would have been fully vaccinated. There was the possibility that there could be people on the flight who were not fully vaccinated because that is not a requirement of travel — a serious ethical flaw in public health and travel policy. I would run the risk of infecting someone who was not vaccinated and that could lead to serious consequences for them. Part of me thought ‘it serves them right’ as my compassion for antivaxers and those slow to get their shots has all but disappeared. I was not worried about being in Maui and I would spend most of the first week alone in the condo cleaning, painting, or sitting on the beach across the street trying to reground myself after two years of extremely hard and emotional work.
Still it felt better to play it safe and return home.
The fact that I was feeling ill as I was finally about to travel, after 18 months of dealing with shuts downs, and poor public health policy, made me extremely resentful of those people who refused to be vaccinated without good reason. The businesses have struggled through three shut downs and many restrictions. We have debt to show for it even as business begins to come back. During that time we did everything we could to keep people employed and make improvements that would help set us up for success once we were able to open again. I remain eternally grateful for our customers, employees, and friends that stuck by us during the pandemic.
Every time I encounter an antivaxer, I still smile and try to treat them with respect but inside my resentment for the damage that they’ve done to the economy, our business, and personal lives festers like an open wound which I’m really having trouble healing. This is not a time when the ‘needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many’ (The Wrath of Khan, 1982).
Recently, I have been thinking about how we learn and the systems we have in place to learn. When I grew up the internet was not yet available to the masses. If I needed information I would go to my local college or public library, use their cataloguing system to locate relevant information that had been curated by smart, educated librarians. (You know who you are).
If I had trouble finding something there was a librarian there with practice, credentials and expertise to help guide me to helpful resources. It was a delight, and I always felt that I walked out with real information that had been carefully selected to educate and promote trust.
Today, however we have the internet, anyone with a computer can publish anything they want for anyone to read, just as I am doing here. There is no librarian, with wavy hair, and a sense of humour to guide you through the maze of confusing media that is available. I really miss librarians and the role they play in helping us find accurate information to make informed decisions.
In the end the antivax phenomenon is a product of the accidental removal of safeguards and systems that use to help us sort through conspiracy and misinformation. It comes down not only to education but the skill required to educate oneself and to critically think.
One person I recently spoke with said, ‘oh, the vaccines don’t work then.’ when they heard about someone close to me contracting COVID. This very simple myth that vaccination purports to block transmission completely is such a screaming example of the misinformation out there. I likely will not get any sicker than I am today thanks to my vaccinations. I will continue to enjoy the smell and taste of good food, and sadly bad food. However as the current wave of delta variant sweeps through the community everyone we know will contract it at some point, those unvaccinated are 36 times more likely to end up in the hospital because of it and some will die or have long term complications. I’m thankful that I didn’t take that risk with my life. I’m grateful for those around me who didn’t take that risk. And I’m glad that I encouraged friends and colleagues to get their shots as soon as possible.
To those reading this, if you’ve been slow to get your vaccinations please don’t wait. Go right away. Your productivity and lifestyle will be affected soon if you don’t. The stability of the economy and employment are being affected.
As for me, I went and got tested yesterday and the results came back positive. Now I’m at home staying away from you as best I can. I may need some fresh bread, or a smiley face card to help me get past postponing this trip yet again. My new plan is to leave about two weeks from now. There will be no reason at all that I can’t go this time… with some careful planning. Knock, knock.