By Qur’an Hansford
“That was it?”
That is what I asked the nurse who was administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into my left arm. I don’t know why I chose that arm to use, maybe because I am right-handed. I’m not scared of needles, but I did recall the soreness after receiving previous shots, unlike my younger sister who goes limp at the thought of a needle. My sister was kind enough to take the ride with me to the high school where the vaccination site was located. She knew I was anxious. My appointment was at 3:15 p.m., but because my sister’s was at 4:00 p.m. she had to stay in the car.
It was a Wednesday and it was raining, a scene set perfectly for a sci-fi thriller about a DNA-mutating vaccine that tracks my every move, confusing my weekly headaches and seasonal allergies with side effects. My outrageous paranoia ironically calmed my nerves from the actual possible effects that can come from the shot.
About a month ago, I wrote an article about my apprehension about receiving the vaccination when everything was still unknown with COVID-19 itself. In all honesty, during the height of quarantine, I was plugged into so many news outlets and social media applications that I did not know if what I was ingesting was factual or not. Although I am a huge advocate for social media journalism for its raw and uncut citizen reporting, I am not naive to the element of falsehoods that comes from journalism without any morals or rules. I had my doubts about receiving the vaccine, then I thought about it.
After I handed my sister the keys to my car to wait for me to finish, I hopped in line. Even with an appointment, I had to wait and wait some more. The staff was friendly. I figured because most of the people there were senior citizens, perhaps that explained the wait. There was a line to sign in where I showed them my survey number and photo identification. Then I waited some more. If you came with more than one person, you all got your shot at the same time. As I waited to get called, I looked around and noticed I was one of the youngest people there as the sound of walkers and canes scraped the gym floor.
It seemed like half of the city of Plainfield was in there, people greeting one another, some probably going all of 2020 without a single ‘hello.’ The auditorium smelled like every public school gym I have been in — I missed it. It made me think about my childhood growing up in the same city and the number of shots I got just to attend school and play sports. Was that trust in medicine or just the trust in my parents that they were making the best choice for me? It seemed I was back in that same spot. My mother was adamant about us receiving the vaccine because of our elderly relatives and my cousin is trying to have a baby, and my mom wants all of us to be present for that. After I thought about it, I wanted to be present too — not only in other people’s lives, but my own. This year has the potential to be one of my (and others I’m sure) most memorable years yet, and well- deserved given the circumstances.
I want to address the tug-of-war discourse that is taking place on social media and in news stations about the efficiency of the vaccine. My only comment to this debate is that not everyone will be happy. There will be those who will feel obligated to take it, like the senior citizens, health care workers, teachers, parents and those that are around the at-risk population. Then there are the WebMD doctors and those who simply do not believe in the healing properties coming from an injection. I respect opinions, that is my job. But, I do not respect willful ignorance and the spreading of misinformation knowingly.
I do not respect “anti-maskers” who feel like their rights are being violated and do not take precautions to protect themselves or others. We were to stay in the house to slow the spread and we couldn’t even do that. And here we are, approximately 19% of the nation’s population vaccinated, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.
Remain optimistic and wear your mask(s).
This editorial expresses the unanimous opinion of The Rider News Editorial Board. This week’s editorial was written by Opinion Editor Qur’an Hansford