I got my second Pfizer COVID-19 shot Monday.
This time around the arm was a bit sore and I had a mild headache.
It’s light years away from three weeks ago when the byproduct of the first shot provided me with two days of absolute misery.
I’ve already been asked if I’m going to stop wearing a facial mask when the situation calls for it. I’m assuming they mean when the Centers for Disease Control’s guidance du jour indicates in specific situations where those who are fully vaccinated can ditch the mask while those that aren’t should wear it.
The answer is a resounding “no”.
I’m driven by one statistic. Since I got my first shot five more people with Manteca addresses have died due to COVID-19.
I do not believe I know any of the five who died. But the odds are with 110 Manteca residents dying in the past 14 months with COVID-19 as a contributing factor I likely knew some of those that have passed away on some level either as someone I encountered briefly or someone who was a loved one or a friend of someone I know.
While the odds of me catching COVID-19 or getting real sick from it if I do have been greatly diminished, this is not about me.
I understand the experts have data that says the rare people who get COVID after being fully vaccinated have yet been associated with the transmission to others.
But how many times have we been told since the pandemic started that something was OK to do and then a week later it wasn’t?
Knock on wood but I haven’t been sick with the flu since I was 11. In the ensuing 54 years I only got one flu shot. That was last year. I did so to reduce the chances I could get the flu as it would be my luck I’d get it and then the symptoms would trigger concerns that I had COVID-19.
I find it hard that in 54 years I never carried the flu bug. We are exposed to virus and germs non-stop. The odds are great I had the bug but never got sick thanks to my immune system.
However, common sense would seem to point that there is still a chance I could transmit it.
Data has shown 30 percent of the people who have contracted COVID never show symptoms. Those people, however, can still transmit COVID but never get sick from it.
I can muddle through a couple more months or so of pulling out the mask when need be to intermix with people. It isn’t going to kill me but not doing so could kill someone else.
I am the exact opposite of a hypochondriac. In the past 14 months I bought one bottle of hand sanitizer and used it once. I drink water out of garden hoses. When I dropped a Cheez-It on the dirt during a break on a hike Sunday at Yosemite National Park, I picked it up and ate it.
The first time I was required to wear a mask was last March during a platelet donation at the Red Cross center in Stockton on March Lane. The donation process requires having needles in both elbows for more than two hours. Within minutes I was hyperventilating and then it dawned on me what was happening. As a young kid I had my head deliberately held under water in a swimming pool for more than a minute several times in a row. After I realized what triggered my reaction I calmed down quite a bit.
Fourteen months later wearing a mask doesn’t bother enough except for those times during platelet donations 90 minutes or so in that it manages to slip off my nose. It’s not my favorite thing to do but I simply ask a phlebotomist to pull it back up for me given my arms are immobile.
Would I like to never wear a mask again? Yes.
Would I like for the morbidity rate to get down to something close to the flu where only 70,000 or so people a year die in the United States instead of 500,000 plus? Yes.
Then I need to do what I can to make that happen. The vaccine shots are one way I can do this. The other is to keep up reasonable social distancing protocols including masks when recommended even if the chances of me spreading it since being vaccinated have become minuscule compared to being not vaccinated.
I get that there could very well be a time we hit a plateau in progress and as a society will have to settle on an “acceptable” annual death rate from COVID-19 even it is somewhat north of 100,000 people.
We need to face the fact we will have to live with a morbidity rate to allow things to get back to normal.
That is where the vaccination shots come into play.
There is little doubt that the correct flu shots can reduce the potential for severe illness and death.
Although this may open Pandora’s Box, let’s venture a guess at how much higher the flu death rate would be if there were no flu shots. Would it be double, triple, quadruple or even more?
It is why I have confidence the vaccines will drastically reduce but not eliminate COVID-19 deaths.
I view it no different than being fully prepared for most eventualities when I go hiking by myself for the day in Death Valley canyons or summiting Sierra peaks. I typically have water for two days, first-aid supplies, warm clothing (even in the heat of summer) and head lamp with fresh batteries even if the intent is only a 10-hour long out and back hike.
If I did not do so most people would view me as being reckless.
How is that any different than getting a vaccination as insurance policy against getting COVID-19?
As it stood on Monday, there were 22,854 people in Manteca fully vaccinated or 37.69 percent of the targeted population of 60,628.
If those that have at least one shot get the second, we will be up to 54 percent of the city fully vaccinated.
It goes without saying the more people vaccinated, the lower the risk of COVID running rampant.
As for those who dismiss getting shots based on scientific chatter booster shots will be needed in a year or so, how is that different than the flu shots?
I get people are tired of wearing masks.
I also get that people have valid reasons for not getting vaccinated ranging from severe issues with needles and health conditions that make it too risky to a heightened level of anxiety and extreme discomfort with the entire concept.
The best shot we have going forward at getting COVID-19 under control to the point the death rates acceptable happens to be vaccines.
That means those of us that can brave the needle will play pivotal roles in moving toward normalcy.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at email@example.com