SOME of us just received our first shot — our shot of hope towards containing this pandemic. Some of us, on the other hand, are now fully vaccinated — meaning, at least two weeks have passed since our second shot. Is it time to unmask?
The vaccine in our arms should simply be looked upon as one layer of protection. Like seatbelts in our cars, they don’t offer 100 percent protection. But we use them, nevertheless, because some protection is still better than none.
But just because we have seatbelts on doesn’t mean we stop making sensible decisions. We should still stop at intersections. We should still drive sober. We should still pay attention.
Just because we’re fully vaccinated doesn’t mean we stop observing safety protocols. We should still mask up. We should still safely distance. We should still observe hand hygiene.
We drive responsibly not just for ourselves but for others on the road, too. We live responsibly not just for ourselves but for others, too. It’s not just our lives we’re trying to protect. It’s the lives of everyone. On the road. Or in our communities.
Some people say we should leave their unvaccinated bodies alone. Well, we wish we could. But their unvaccinated bodies are open invites for the virus to move in, multiply and mutate into strains possibly more transmissible and deadly in the future.
And as people continue to hesitate or wait, they don’t realize that every second they waste passing up on the chance to get the vaccine in their arms, they give the virus another opportunity to find a new host to infect and for a new strain to emerge.
It’s not enough that we get as many people vaccinated. We must get the most vulnerable vaccinated first. And then, we must vaccinate the rest, fast, so we win the race to stop this virus from further mutating into strains that may render our current vaccines, impotent — then we lose the battle altogether.
Individual preferences cannot prevail when public safety is at stake.
In the aftermath of 9/11, people balked at security measures instituted at airports around the world. We couldn’t imagine ever travelling again. Today, two decades later, we don’t think twice about surrendering our civil liberties at airports to ensure our safety. And we did travel, again.
We can’t go back. But we can move forward — with new perspectives. We did it after 9/11. We can do it again after Covid-19. We didn’t end terrorism. But we contained it. We can do the same with this pandemic.
But we can’t do it without mass vaccination. As more vaccines become available in the country, people will become more selective, waiting for their preferred brand to arrive. The best vaccine is still the one in your arm.
Our shot of hope. Our shot at containing this pandemic.