It’s wonderful to see Americans receiving vaccines that will hopefully keep them immune from COVID-19. Yet another example of the power of science!
I was glad to see the healthcare workers who received the first doses not wincing or yelling “ouch!” as the needle entered their skin. We need the message to be that this is a simple, pain-free process, and that — even if you have some soreness or minor side effects for a couple of days afterwards — a bit of discomfort is nothing compared to the damage the coronavirus can do to your body, possibly for the long-term.
Now the question becomes whether enough of us will be inoculated. We’ll never get all of our fellow citizens to take the shot, because there has been no time in history when every American agreed on anything. But we may be able to get to a large enough percentage to allow our society to return to something approaching normalcy by next summer.
However, it won’t happen with a government mandate. There are just too many people who refuse to follow common sense rules because, in their mind, there’s something devilishly political behind them (e.g. anti-maskers, Jenny McCarthy). Within a few days, I predict we’ll see more people flouting the law because they believe the arrival of the vaccines means the COVID-19 threat is over — despite the fact that they won’t have access to the shot for many months.
That’s why I think it’s going to be the US business community that gets the needle in the arms of the vast majority of Americans.
Your employer could certainly demand you be vaccinated before allowing you back into the workplace with your colleagues. Public schools can add this to the list of vaccines children must have before being admitted. Restaurants and bars — already suffering drastically from the shut down of indoor dining combined with winter weather making outdoor dining less comfortable — could put a bouncer at the door who demands to see your proof-of-vaccination card. The same goes for airlines and movie theaters and sporting venues that want to draw people back inside, not to mention outdoor events where you’ll be sitting or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other humans.
This being America, of course, there will no doubt be a black market in proof-of-vaccination cards, much like fake IDs for teens who want to buy a beer. But there are already solutions being offered by tech companies, who have developed apps that indicate who has or hasn’t been vaccinated.
What we’ll really need at some point is for Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, McDonald’s, Major League Baseball, and other influential mega-corporations with tens of thousands of employees and outlets to impose a vaccine mandate at their entrances. The same goes for the US Postal Service, the Pentagon, and every other government agency in regard to their workers.
But none of them can put such a rule in place yet, because there isn’t enough supply to help all of us at this point. My state, Missouri, with a population over five million, only expects 375,000 doses to be delivered by the end of year. Since we’ll all need two doses to complete the regimen, that covers less than 4% of us. For now, the most important word is patience.
The good news is there will be more of those tiny, cold vials of scientific solutions coming — and with them, some hope that 2021 will be better than its predecessor. It would be hard to be worse.