Thanks to Britain’s laudable National Health Service I am now officially COVID immune, or nearly so. Wednesday marked my second and final Pfizer injection. The massive clockwork operation that made it possible was as smooth and impressive as the first time, the people as genial and efficient as before. It was a tour de force of medical competence and planning. The nurse rolled up the sleeve of my T-shirt like Marlon Brando in “Streetcar” and it was over quicker than you could say “Donald Trump is a lying fraud.”
As with the last time I emerged side-effect free. Yes, I realise not everyone has been so lucky. Yes, I recognise that I just as easily could have been beset by headaches, nausea, flu-like symptoms, and any one of a dozen or so other afflictions up to and including death.
But weighing the positives and the negatives was easy. There was a vanishingly small chance that the vaccination might have permanently maimed or killed me or done me other serious medical violence, and a several orders of magnitude higher chance that rejecting the vaccination would have meant my early death from COVID-19, or permanent disability from “Long COVID.” In the brutal light of statistical fact, the choice was a no-brainer.
I was able to arrive at that decision because I am undistracted by the hare-brained conspiracy theories besieging the COVID vaccination. I didn’t take into account the absurdity that Bill Gates was implanting a microchip in my arm. Getting vaccinated was not an insult to my rights as a free human being, it wasn’t a metaphor for my diminished self-respect, it didn’t symbolise my acquiescence into the brotherhood of the sheep, it was just plain, old-fashioned smart.
Getting vaccinated made me safer, my loved ones safer, my community safer, and edged the world just that tiny bit closer to an end to this madness called the coronavirus pandemic. It was my chance to participate in a small act of social heroism, of brother and sisterhood. It was my chance to be a good world citizen.
I wore a mask throughout, just like I always do when I face the public. Try though I might I never felt ill-used for wearing a mask, never felt my rights were being infringed, never worried that someone, somewhere was sneering at me.
What I knew instead was, in my small way, somewhere someone very well may owe their life to me. I will never know for sure. We will probably never meet. But because I chose not to be an accidental carrier of a deadly pathogen, I may very well be an anonymous, unsung hero to some elderly woman and her family, or some young man and his wife and children, or anyone at all. I can take pride in that one small thing without boasting, because I am joined by billions of others who have done the same thing.
So roll up your sleeves, America, roll up your sleeves, Britain, roll up your sleeves, citizens of the world. Here is your chance to do something heroic, something inconvenient, something a little dangerous for the betterment of your fellow creatures on this gentle blue planet we must all share in harmony. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.