COVID–19: In These Dark Days, a Glimmer of Light

As of this writing, the coronavirus pandemic has never been worse. Records for infections are being shattered. Hospitals are overrun. Death counts are soaring. Yet, the situation is not hopeless. Dr. Fauci said it best: “Help is on the way.”

Good news at last

Because of multiple, efficacious vaccines, we now have some idea how and when the coronavirus pandemic will end. It may take much of 2021 to achieve a critical mass of vaccinated people (remember, vaccines don’t save lives, vaccinations save lives). So, each person who dies from the virus between now and the end of the pandemic will have suffered an even more tragic death, if that is possible. They will have almost made it.

I don't want to almost make it. I'm going to do whatever I can to ensure I'm not part of this heart-breaking group — that I don’t contract the virus when help is on the way.

When will it be my turn?

My weakness is my advantage. Because I have multiple underlying conditions, as do many people with MS, I should receive the vaccine sooner rather than later. I only need to hold out for another month or two or three before coronavirus antibodies will be coursing through my veins.

I've heard conflicting reports, but everyone in the United States should be vaccinated, if they so wish, by the summer of 2021, hopefully, sooner.

Our job for the coming months

Given that the end of the pandemic is in sight, everyone’s job is to double down, mask up, and do all you can to not contract the virus before receiving the vaccine.

If the vaccines don't get you motivated, then double down and mask up because the virus is raging out of control. We need to protect ourselves from infection by others and protect others from infection by us. If you need still more motivation, then double down and mask up for the healthcare professionals who work tirelessly to save our lives, while risking their health and the health of their families.

Not everyone can double down

For those on the front lines — doctors, nurses, hospital staff, other essential workers, and people who must work risky jobs to put food on the table — I realize that all precautions may already have been taken. There may be no room left to double down. The rest of us will be forever indebted to these folks. Those who work on the front lines should be at the front of the line for a vaccination.

Not everyone trusts the vaccines

Some people are anti-vaxxers in principle. I'm not going to sway them in this short essay.  But other people are simply cautious by nature and may be hesitant to take the vaccine as soon as it is offered. They would rather wait until more data comes in. They worry about the expedited nature of these FDA approvals. They are concerned about side effects and long-term problems not yet identified.

Although this is not my view, I can see how reasonable people might feel this way. Me? I am more afraid of the coronavirus than I am of the vaccines.

If too few people take advantage of the vaccines as soon as they are available, the coronavirus may hang around longer than it needs to. I encourage everyone to consult with their physicians and get the vaccine as soon as you're both comfortable with it.

Pandemic fatigue

For many of us, our primary challenge in the coming weeks and months, as we wait for the vaccines, will be pandemic fatigue. I’ve been guilty of it.

As the spring of 2020 turned to the summer, Kim and I felt the fatigue and began to lower our guard. We had friends over — although we maintained social distancing in our backyard. We went to restaurants — although only the ones with outside patios. We began to imagine a time in the near future when life would return to normal.

Then, in the summer of 2020

The pandemic curves, these horrid graphs that we've all come to know, turned upward again. The coronavirus was not done with us, fatigued though we may have been. Kim and I stopped loosening our defenses and waited to see which way things would turn. They turned worse still.

Then, in November, the vaccine announcements began, and they have kept coming. Hope and determination swept away any pandemic fatigue Kim and I had suffered. A light flickered where there had only been darkness.

Today, we are as cautious as we were in April or May. No visitors. No restaurants. We don’t want to screw this up.

Final thought

As tragic as any death is, those between now and the end of the pandemic will be particularly difficult to accept. The most tragic death of all? Someone is going to be the last person to die from this pandemic. Don’t let it be you.

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