Emily and I started having kids almost immediately after we were married. We found ourselves in a group of friends that were young married couples that were finishing college, beginning our careers, and starting professional schools, and having kids. One day the dreaded embarrassment happened, I asked one of our friends whom we hadn’t seen a while when she was “due.” I thought, to my shame, that she was pregnant. She was most definitely not. The look she gave me; the look her husband gave her, then me; the look my wife gave me, oh it was terrible. The embarrassment, the complete feeling of achieving the epitome of social idiotism; the Oscar of morons was mine alone to wave at the peak of human stupidity. I felt really, really, bad. Over the years, I’ve succeeded in “putting my foot in my mouth” over and over again. New topics each time, they’ve each been spectacular failures.
We now find ourselves in a new world of social norms. My goal is to attempt to provide a little context that may inform readers as to socially acceptable questions regarding the vaccine. Recently health professionals were allowed to get the vaccine. I’m glad that the general population is starting to get the vaccine, albeit with some Job-like patience while waiting on the phone to schedule. However, the vaccine like all medical procedures, is private, personal health information. The decision to get the vaccine should be a conversation between you and your healthcare provider. There actually are MANY reasons to not get the vaccine at this point. Here’s a really short list of a few common reasons: There have not been sufficient studies on how it affects patients with auto-immune conditions; patients who are breastfeeding or pregnant, or who plan to get pregnant, including fertility conditions. There are so MANY reasons that are completely legitimate to NOT get the vaccine that we shouldn’t, in general, be asking others if they have or have not received it yet.
I received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in early February. I had no side effects the next day, in fact I went skiing on Mt. Ashland. Other people that received it that day reported feeling generally tired, feverish, muscle aches and chills. There’s a spectrum there, and that’s ok. I don’t mind sharing if someone asks, but I will sometimes add this caveat, “now just because I’m willing to tell you my health information, doesn’t mean everyone else will too.” No one should be made to feel bad because they’ve chosen not to receive the vaccine. They have their reasons, and most of the time they are completely legitimate. I do encourage EVERYONE to have the conversation with your physician regarding the benefits to receiving the vaccine. I also encourage EVERYONE to have an added measure of grace when and if you determine you are going to ask someone if they’ve received it, and when or if you respond to someone asking you the same question. Remember it’s private health information, you don’t have to tell anyone but your health care providers.
Instead of asking: Try This:
Q – Have you had the vaccine?
– What’s your favorite board game?
Q – Are you planning on getting the vaccine?
– When do you think OSF will reopen?
Q – Do you think the vaccine is safe?
– Which new restaurants have you been supporting?
Q – Anything else about the vaccine?
– When did you schedule your next dental cleaning?
Just kidding, that last one was also health information! In our world of instant oatmeal, and drive thru service, it’s okay to slow down and be patient as we work through the logistics of this pandemic and the vaccine distribution. We’ll get through it. Stay safe, and keep wearing those masks!