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A Shot in the Arm

Have you had yours yet? I got mine on Saturday, March 6 at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Covid Vaccine Clinic in Boston. 11:30 a.m. I’ve never had a shot before and remembered the date I got it. I do recall getting vaccinated for smallpox when I was 6 years old, but I do not recall the date, just the funny way the doctor scratched around on my arm to give it to me.

But we remember when we got this vaccination, those of us who’ve been fortunate enough to get it, don’t we? Maybe not the exact date, but the rough date and the time of day and the location and which of the three vaccines we received. I got what I call the “ADHD” version of the vaccine because it’s a one-time deal, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I left the clinic with a hop, skip, and a jump. I’ve never been actually overjoyed to get a shot, but I sure was this time.

How about you? I hope you’ve been able to get it. If you don’t want to get it, I respect your decision, but to tell you the truth I don’t understand it. It seems to me—and to all the medical experts I’ve talked with or read—that getting this vaccine is our best way to beat this pandemic, this plague that has turned our world upside down. If we want to get the world back right side up, one of the best steps we can take is to get vaccinated, the more of us the better.

Not only does getting the vaccine move us closer to herd immunity, but it gets us away from isolation. Not that staying inside, not going to restaurants, movies, large gatherings, and everything else we’ve had to give up has been complete isolation, but it’s been its own form of incarceration. It’s been bad for us. Most people don’t know this, but social isolation is as dangerous for your health as cigarette smoking, obesity, or not wearing a seat belt. 

The medical fact is that we need each other. We need each other’s presence, in what I call “the human moment”. The electronic moment just doesn’t do it. The human moment packs a power a megawatts more than the electronic. We sense and feel each other’s presence, and benefit from it, in ways science has not learned how to measure. But a tone of scientific evidence proven how dangerous the absence of one another can be. This pandemic has driven home that fact like nothing before.

Now it’s time to open up your arms and celebrate! Don’t throw caution entirely to the wind, but do rejoice, give thanks, and sing. Praise the people who developed the vaccine, manufactured it, delivered it, and shot it into your arms. Go back outside and run around, or, if you’re older like me, walk your dog with a hop, skip, and a jump, and be glad to be back in nature, with each other and with the renewed kingdom of connection.

It’ll be a long time before we take stock of all the damage this virus has wreaked. But what we know right now for sure is a truth we’ve always known but too often forgot or ignored: the simple truth of how much we need each other.