I’m glad that there are better writers out there than me. It can be a struggle to come up with good content, so when I find something that makes great points, I can step aside and point, bowing my head.
Case in point: this article from the L.A. Times. An opinion piece, by an infectious disease specialist out of UCLA.
I understand the desire to reduce pandemic information overload. There is more to life than avoiding the coronavirus, and certain cardinal “life activities” may in fact be protective: sufficient sleep, circadian resetting, clean nutrition, and other cornerstones of ancestral health can support immune function, and their absence can hurt it.
What follows is a curated and concentrated update of pandemic information, plus some concluding insights.
Update on booster shots
The alphabet soup of federal authorities (FDA, CDC, ACIP) has moved much faster than anticipated.
The CDC has approved a booster shot, if you received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (the jury is still out on the Johnson & Johnson), and have a moderate to severely immunocompromising condition that would have interfered with the vaccination taking full effect. The booster should be with the same vaccine received for the first shots. Patients can self-attest when signing up, no doctor’s note required; vaccines.gov allows you to search for locations (now mostly pharmacies) by zip code and vaccine type.
Starting next month, a wider roll out of boosters will commence, 8 months following the date of a person’s 2nd mRNA vaccine beginning with the highest risk populations initially vaccinated (nursing home residents, seniors, and healthcare providers).
This follows the data and the lead taken by other countries, including Israel, Germany, France, and next month, the United Kingdom.
“…anyone who is fully vaccinated is still very well protected from getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Health officials were emphatic on this point…The rationale for laying the groundwork for boosters in the months ahead is to avert potential COVID-19 deaths in the future if vaccine-induced protection against serious illness wanes [emphasis mine – pbk].
”Dr. Robert Wachter, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, notes that there’s logic to federal officials trying to act early to prevent a worsening of the pandemic.
”Waiting until we start seeing significant numbers of hospitalizations and deaths in vaccinated people seems like the wrong call; trying to stay a bit ahead of the curve seems like the right thing to do, both medically and politically,” Wachter wrote in an email to NPR.”
Why the Covid op-ed by the ID specialist?
Because Dr. Anita Sircar writes a compelling, damnfine read: a personal story, written with intelligence and rationality (as a front-line infectious disease specialist she has the ultimate street cred), with bullet points that hit like bullets:
“If you believe the pandemic is almost over and you can ride it out, without getting vaccinated, you could not be more wrong. This virus will find you.
”If you believe if I get infected I’ll just go to the hospital and get treated, there is no guarantee we can save your life, nor even a promise we’ll have a bed for you.
”If you believe I’m pregnant and I don’t want the vaccine to affect me, my baby or my future fertility, it matters little if you’re not alive to see your newborn.
”If you believe I’ll just let everyone else get vaccinated around me so I don’t have to, there are 93 million eligible, unvaccinated people in the “herd” who think the same way you do and are getting in the way of ending this pandemic.
“If you believe vaccinated people are getting infected anyway so what’s the point?, the vaccine was built to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from severe illness. Instead of fatal pneumonia, those with breakthrough infections have a short, bad cold, so the vaccine has already proved itself. The vaccinated are not dying from COVID-19.”
And the lead that she almost buried:
”SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has mutated countless times during this pandemic, adapting to survive. Stacked up against a human race that has resisted change every step of the way — including wearing masks, social distancing, quarantining and now refusing lifesaving vaccines — it is easy to see who will win this war if human behavior fails to change quickly.”
Her experience/rationality/intelligence/emotional conviction probably isn’t necessary to convince you. If you’re reading this, you are most likely already vaccinated and masking.
You may not feel that convincing others is part of your job description. After religion and politics, talking about vaccines and masks has become the modern personal third rail: sparks fly and friendships may die.
Ima not gonna touch religion, because I have no objective speed dial to the Almighty, and I’m not sure anyone can settle right/wrong arguments at that pay grade. Political right/wrong is pretty squarely in the human sphere, but only slightly less contentious and equally unlikely to convince the certain.
Perhaps that is why the medical matter of personal masking and vaccinating has become politicized, and to some degree fair game for religious commentary. The matter has evolved to the state of the hardliners. All the more moderate and thoughtful participants have had their say, nodded, and left the field. The only ones loudly and angrily gesticulating are the ones convinced of the rightness of their cause. If you keep arguing, eventually only the arguers will hang around.
Dr. Sircar’s article is subtitled “As a doctor in a COVID unit, I’m running out of compassion for the unvaccinated. Get the shot.”
She’s done arguing.
If there’s any convincing of others to be done, if they’re hardline entrenched (not all those with vaccine hesitancy are anti-vax), it won’t be done by arguing, by tallying up pluses and minuses. The only way that works is when the other guy agrees to abide by a moderator’s decision, to say “Hmmm, you make a good point, maybe I’m wrong,” and hardliners won’t accept anyone else’s judgment that they are wrong.
When have things moved beyond the realm of discussion? When one or more major player doesn’t care. When one or more will do what they will do, regardless.
Is it possible to convince hardliners to consider vaccinating and masking? Yes — just not by arguing. Hardliners are very adept at marshalling their arguments and counter arguments to your anticipated points.
You may not think it’s your job to proselytize The Way Of The Jab And Mask (though I would argue that if there’s anything to enlighten the world about, it’s this). But If you take it upon yourself to convince someone, a beloved family member or a close friend who is Set In Their Anti-vax/mask Ways, just skip the argument phase.
Read the article again. Channel Dr. S: don’t argue, be there, let your example and the example of your family do the wordless talking. The time for arguing is past when one or more parties is going to do what they do — so you do you, and show, if possible by being helpful, most often by being (safely) available, so they know you’re around and how you roll. Kinda Christian, Zen, and Taoist (and other religious profundities if I were familiar with other traditions).
And keep in mind, there’s another party that’s going to do what it does, unswayed by any arguments.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, Delta variant.
It’s going to eat whomever it can — nearly exclusively the unvaccinated — and doesn’t care about abortion, gay marriage, whose God is the True God, political leanings, or what you clutch your pearls over. Like the sun coming up in the east, it cannot be argued with.
The time for arguing really is done.