My Fully Vaxxed Life Won’t Change Right Away
On Monday, I crossed a pandemic milestone: I reached the two-week threshold since my second vaccine shot. I am, for all intents and purposes, in the clear. I suspect there will be Covid-19 booster shots coming in the years ahead, and I do not mind this in the slightest because the number one thing I’ve been worried about over the last 14 months — will I get Covid? Will I give it to someone else? Will I get sick? Will they get sick? — is no longer something I am worried about. That was the goal, wasn’t it? This is what we wanted, no?
I know that the pandemic is not over, far from it, and what is happening in India right now, among other places, is tragic and horrible. We are not out of this, as a country, as a society, as a species. There is so much more work to be done. But this is also the most personal of global stories. We have all gone through this collectively, but we also have all gone through it individually. And it is also undeniable that once an individual person has been fully vaccinated — say, this particular person — the pandemic changes for this person. It has to. How could it not? Isn’t that the point of having vaccines in the first place?
And now I am here. I’m clear: I’m free! This is obviously a day anyone would have been looking forward to since the beginning of the pandemic. If you would have told me back in, say, August of last year that a day was coming where I would receive a shot that would make it exceedingly to vanishingly unlikely that I would ever catch Covid-19, and thus that the people closest to me would be safe and that I’d be able to return to doing many of the things I love and cherish the most, I would have not been able to stop skipping. And that day, that specific day that I was free, well, that would be the wildest day of all, right? I could hug all my friends. I could eat indoors at my favorite restaurant. I could travel — I could see loved ones I’ve missed for so long. I’d want to do it all. All of it!
But life doesn’t coordinate and line up exactly like that. It turns out, Monday was a day like any other. I took my kids to school. I got a lot of work done. I had a nice dinner at home and fell asleep early watching a baseball game. There was no wilding out at all. I didn’t go out and do all the things that would have been too risky to do over the last 14 months. I just… lived. I just had a perfectly average day.
And you know what? It’s better than anything else I could have done. I will be able to do all those things eventually; one of the glorious things about being fully vaccinated is that you feel like you can finally make plans again. But for now, the relief of knowing that the virus that has killed 3.12 million people worldwide, and counting, is not something that can get me or the ones I love. That monster that had been on my shoulder, for so long… it was just gone. I got to walk around the world, at last, unencumbered by the single most omnipresent and disrupting issue of everyone’s lifetimes.
We’ll be talking about Covid-19, and what it did to humanity, for the rest of our lives. Our kids will be dealing with the aftermath for even longer. But, for the first time since I first heard the phrase “Covid-19,” it’s not something I have personally hanging over my head anymore. I will still make sure my family and my friends stay safe. I will still wear my mask indoors and follow the recommended guidelines. I will still do my part to help get us through the most tumultuous period of our lifetimes.
But I’m fully vaccinated now. And it really does change everything.
I don’t have to be so terrified of the present. And I can look forward to an unknown, and quite exciting, future. I can make plans. I can see friends. I can move forward. So can all of us. The vaccines are our miracle. We owe it to ourselves, and everyone around us, to appreciate them. And use this time that has been given to us wisely, and with a full heart. There’s a whole new world out there. With any luck, it’ll be a lot like our old world, just living our lives in the normal way that now seems downright thrilling. I cannot wait to go there. Can’t you?
Will Leitch writes multiple pieces a week for Medium. Make sure to follow him right here. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel How Lucky, released by Harper on May 11. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.