Vaxxination Station

Are you vaxxed?

(And when did spelling vaccine with two Xs become the accepted norm?)

The question of to vaccinate or not to vaccinate oneself against covid-19 is THE hot button topic of the nanosecond.

Full disclosure: I got vaxxed in mid-May in Texas; the J&J one-shot, right in the heart of the Buddha tattoo on my right shoulder.

Full disclosure: I believe everyone has the right to choose what is best for their body.

Honestly, when the vaccines first became available, I was not planning to get one. I live in rural Guatemala as a relatively isolated (albeit friendly) hermit.

The ‘rona’ as its affectionately known to jokesters and “nonbelievers” in the virus (of whom there are many in these parts, mostly from the international expat community) affected my life last year, in that there were lockdowns, border closures, and even the lanchas (public boats) that taxi people daily from 6am to 6pm across Lake Atitlan were suspended. There were weekend lockdowns, and I celebrated my 40th birthday quietly at home, we were all basically on house arrest. It wasn’t so bad. Looking back, it was magical how tranquil and silent those days were.

These were preventative measures, and here in my neck of the woods, they worked. Cases of the virus in these parts have been few and isolated.

I, like every media-connected human last year who got sick, think I might’ve had covid. Right after Xmas, I fell ill for about 3 days. Feverish, exhausted, nauseous. Didn’t lose my sense of taste or smell but did lose my appetite and energy. Or maybe it was just the flu.

Anyway, I went to Texas for an overdue visit in May and promptly got vaccinated at an independent pharmacy a few miles from my folks’ house. The pregnant practitioner gently warned that the shot might cause a burning sensation. In fact, the shot was painless and I had no side effects whatsoever.

Why did I get vaccinated? Unspoken peer pressure. From social media and news media? From sensible, smart relatives and friends who’d gotten vaxxed and shared about it? Moreover, it was easy. The way of the white cloud. The jab of least resistance.

I could go in for a hug with all the old friends I was visiting (in Texas, California, and Oregon) and they would say “I’m fully vaccinated,” and I would reply, “Me, too!”. What if I weren’t? No hugs?

Getting back into Guatemala was also facilitated by having been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to my return. There was no need to take a covid test since I was vaxxed. (Honestly, the nasal swab was a lot more uncomfortable than the vaccination shot.)

And yet, I am not saying everyone should get vaccinated or laying blame on the “anti-vaxxers.” This topic has become so polarized but there are many shades of opinion. I think it’s discriminatory to deny job opportunities and tables at a restaurant to the unvaccinated. I believe everyone should educate themselves on the vaccination situation and make their own choices. Vaccines should not be mandated by governments or corporations.

But how do we educate ourselves when overwhelm, confusion, and misinformation are so rampant? The internet is full of lies, truths, and everything in between. You can find evidence-based scientific studies and pseudoscientific blog posts supporting just about any viewpoint.

No sé. I don’t know. So let’s end with a random Spanish vocabulary lesson!

La vacuna – vaccine
La vaca – cow
Las vacaciones – vacation
Vacunarse – to vaccinate oneself
¿Sí o no? – yes or no?

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