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Looking Up: What Happens When We Embrace Our Connectedness

Looking up COVID-19 vaccine

For the first time in a year, I’m looking up!

It’s not just that the days are getting longer and the air is getting warmer. It’s that, dare I say it, hope is finally on the horizon: hope that our Covid nightmare is drawing to a close.

I’m proud to say I got my second dose of my Covid vaccine recently – a critical step on my journey to normalcy.

I feel that a huge weight of gloom and despair has been lifted. For the last year, time has been at a nebulous standstill. Sure, the seasons have marched on, but we’ve all been stuck in neutral. Birthday parties canceled, holiday gatherings and weddings moved to Zoom. Friends and loved ones have gotten sick. And many have lost their lives to this virus, often dying alone. Nearly 50 percent of all Americans know someone who has died from the disease.

This is why I am so grateful that we finally have a proven, effective tool in our hands: a vaccine.

Not just one vaccine. In fact, we have three — proven vaccines that are able to prevent infection, serious disease, and death.

As I was getting my vaccine, masked up like everyone else, I was overcome by a profound sense of amazement and gratitude for all those who made this possible. It’s a true testament to human ingenuity as well as the support of Spirit. From researchers to labs to the government at all levels, they made it happen. The experience brought tears to my eyes, as I realized just how lucky I was to be in an age group, not normally a desirable one (i.e., “older”), that meant I got the vaccine soon after it was made available. And it made me think about the time I was about five years old and was taken by my parents to get a sugar cube vaccine to protect me from polio.

When’s the last time you met someone who had polio? I had a friend in grammar school as well as a boss when I was a young lawyer, both of whom had significant handicaps due to polio. They weren’t as lucky as I. For most who caught the disease – perhaps 98%, it was a mild infection. But for the 2% who had a serious case, paralysis and death were real. In 1952, during America’s largest polio epidemic, over 22,000 children were paralyzed. A quote from PBS read, “Apart from the Atomic Bomb, America’s biggest fear was polio.”

Think of all those children, cut down in their prime, paralyzed by a silent killer. To combat this killer, Jonas Salk created the first effective polio vaccine in the early 1950’s. In less than a 10-year period, polio cases plummeted from over 35,000 a year to under 200.

That is amazing.

Think of the parents who hustled to get their children that vaccine. Think of the relief they experienced as they knew their children were protected from being cut down in their prime. Think of how proud they must have been to be part of the solution, part of the immune who could protect others from getting sick.

What a wonderful act of citizenship.

I thought about all of the brave scientists, parents, and patients throughout history who collaborated to protect us all. I thought about my grandmother who was born before the measles vaccine existed – how she lost her hearing to a high fever from that merciless virus.

I thought about her, and all the others who weren’t lucky enough to get the vaccine. The ones who survived with scars.

I thought about all of them – the living and the dead, the survivors and the casualties – and understood that it was not only a blessing for me to get this vaccine against Covid. I realized that it was my duty as a member of the human race to get this vaccine.

By me getting the vaccine, I am helping to prevent the spread of the virus. My immunity directly impacts the health of humanity. It is my moral obligation to become immune to prevent unnecessary illness and death. Especially with this deadly virus, that can be unknowingly transmitted by some 59% of us, who have it but are asymptomatic or presymptomatic.

I am honored. I am honored by the sacrifices that my ancestors made. I am honored by the sacrifices our scientists have made. And I am honored by the sacrifices that our front-line workers continue to make every day.

So, things are looking up. Things are looking up because we, as a collective, are taking the moral step to protect one another. And I’m sure that we will all be required to have proof of vaccination before boarding a plane or attending a private event.

Please, for your sake, and for the sake of your loved ones and your community, i.e., the world, be a savior and get vaccinated. Any of the three available vaccines, whichever becomes available to you first. Go for it, just like I did. If not for your own safety, then for the safety of everyone else.

I’m hoping we can all be together again, soon!

Deborah King