By Maddy Bergey
Welp, it has officially been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic initially impacted our lives in this world. As a globe, we have endured two whole years of a deadly virus, which has claimed over five million lives and inevitably affected billions beyond those. From ever-changing mask mandates to newly emerging variants, these past two years have been denoted by division, ignorance, selfishness, hatred . . . oh, and unruly politicians. From unreasonable tweets suggesting that bleach would help immunity to carefully curated vaccines that actually help immunity, this country has seemingly been in shambles, especially these past two years. Although the state of this nation is extremely unfavorable, how can we citizens do our part?
For me, the answer to the previously proposed question seems simple: vaccination. For others, it seems to be centered around denying the severity of the pandemic as well as all the pain, death, loss, and grief it has caused. If we examine the situation outside of ourselves, our small towns, our state, we should notice the large-scale and widespread impact that denial of the situation leads to.
Isn’t it interesting how some people refuse to believe in science, refuse to believe in medical professionals, and refuse to believe in the efficacy of vaccination until they are the ones on the medical bed, pleading for the help they simply cannot provide themselves? On the contrary, isn’t it interesting how the people who have enough compassion to get vaccinated are also the ones to get tested before seeing others, to continue wearing their masks, and to stay updated with vaccination records?
Through various conversations I have held with close eldery people, they recalled the excitement of people in the 1950s when a vaccine was created for polio. They elaborated on the fact that people were crying tears of joy and relief, knowing a milestone was reached to help them move forward… together. In today’s world, we are obviously not seeing the same reaction. Instead of cheering for joy and realizing what steps need to be taken in order to see progress, people are constantly attempting to justify their position for choosing to not get vaccinated. This justification can simply never be wholly reached, since the consequences of being unvaccinated not only affect you as an individual, but also affect vulnerable, immunocompromised members of society.
Specifically, I would like to point out a situation that greatly affected me as a result of COVID-19. On July 31, 2020, my niece, Elsie, was born still. Her death came as a result of complications of COVID-19. Although various factors contributed to this, it is important to realize that her father — as an intensive care nurse — was working directly with positive patients. At the time, vaccines had not yet come out, although a vaccine is what could have been the saving measure of Elsie’s life. Fast forward a few months to when my sister was expecting again; during this pregnancy, she was able to get vaccinated! With extreme caution and this preventative measure, her second daughter, Suvi, was born on November 8, 2021. In the present day, Suvi’s tangible earthside body constantly affirms my reasoning for simply getting a needle in my arm.
As much as most of society would like to disregard these past two years, it is crucial to understand the severity of a global pandemic as well as the fact that it is not over. Considering all factors from politics to public health, it is hard to imagine this nation ever taking a stride — in unison! — toward a better tomorrow. Societal cooperation and genuine understanding will play a pivotal role in evolving for an improved future.
For me, Elsie has always been my “why” for getting vaccinated. Please — for Elsie and for others — get vaccinated.
Maddy Bergey is a student at Fillmore Central High School. She is one of 14 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 23rd year.