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I Get It

I get it. I had a friend get annoyed with me in the early days of the vaccine because I wasn’t rushing to get it. Mind you, I wasn’t even eligible yet but they were disappointed I wasn’t trying to get on lists or get in line for the day’s unclaimed doses. I laughed. They were not amused. But I understood. My friend loves me and wants me to be well and they had previously believed me to be reasonable, and with no immediate compelling historical reason to distrust medicine/governmental agencies/newscycles, they were shook to discover I was a rabid anti-vaxxer. But I wasn’t. I was (and am!) just Black. And to think we come to the medicine/governmental agency/newscycle tables on equal footing with equal trust is to be naive. We have no reason to trust. So we’re constantly gathering information and making assessments, weighing up our options. Waiting to see. And that’s all I was doing. In a perfect world I would have liked to wait a year or five to see the stats and facts, but we ain’t got a perfect world. So I will now always remember that I got vaxxed on Memorial Day. I got the J&J because I had to be honest with myself that chances of my punkass showing up for a second shot were extremely slim. 

People are skeptical. I get it. I only reason I can’t say that I was skeptical is because that would sound past tense and I STILL AM. I don’t know what this vaccine MIGHT do, but I do know what the ‘rona CAN do and in the scheme of things… am I really gonna pretend like my googles are equal to scientist doing scientific research with google PLUS beakers and DNA samples and… I want to say, micro mini-mitochondriacs? Look, I don’t know how to science, but I do know how to conspiracize. And the two titans of vaccine conspiracy theories are:

  • A) the government and/or science have knowingly putting something in it to do something to us or
  • B) the government and/or science don’t know what the vaccine is going to do long-term. 

Option A is the easiest to debunk, not because it’s impossible that the government and/or evil science might want to harm us, but because there are definitely much easier ways to do it. Ninety-eight percent of us attend Google University online via our smartphones with the assistance of ever-listening, ever-tracking, ever-“helpful” assistants like Siri and Alexa who could turn on us at any moment. You think the government who can very easily know exactly where you are at any time is going to wait for you to come get the nefarious thing they have for you? That’s cute. When the government decides to harm, they put your back into it.

Which leaves us with Option B. Maybe they just don’t know. We obviously can’t know for sure what effect this vaccine could have in ten years because we haven’t gotten there, but we know how vaccines work in general. And as regular-degular people, who have vaguely general ideas of how our bodies work, we frequently entrust them to other people (doctors/dentists/uber drivers) who know more. Because we don’t know enough. And that’s where we are with this vaccine – we don’t know enough. And by “we”, I mean us regular-degular dumdums. Who, if we’re honest, don’t even know enough to know when we know enough. What knowledge are we waiting on? Scientific journals that we’re not going to read and more stats that we can’t interpret on our own? Who are we kidding? This isn’t about facts, this is about fear. It’s about coping. And it’s about control. We are in a pandemic. We are having unprecedented reactions to unprecedented things in an unprecedented time. And COVID is untrustworthy. It can strike severely or stowaway quietly, it can kill or go unnoticed, it can linger, it can reappear, it can mutate.  It has changed the world. It has changed our worlds. And we are trying to make sense of it all. And I get it. To choose whether or not to get the vaccine is one of the only things we can choose when it comes to this. So people are making choices. And I respect that. One hundred percent. You don’t want to get the vaccine, don’t get the vaccine. But also don’t walk around in 2021 like it’s 2019.

I didn’t get vaccinated until the end of May. You know what else I didn’t do until the end of May? Go anywhere or see anyone outside of my little bubble. I venture out a little more, go a little farther from home these days, but I still mask up. I still social distance. And I still can’t imagine putting jeans on. The world is different and I’m different in it. So it’s not the people who don’t want to get the vaccine that bother me, it’s the people who don’t want to get the vaccine as part of a total COVID denial power-play. The people who are selfish. Who can’t sacrifice a little individual comfort, a little how-things-used-to-be, for the greater good. To not want to get vaccinated and to also not want to wear a mask and not want to adhere to social limits, is to want to live in a world that no longer exists while making it clear, that you don’t care about anyone in the world that is. If you’re a pastor whining about the restrictions preventing your church from gathering like it used to – are you for real?! Don’t y’all serve an omni-present God? If your people don’t know how to connect with God and each other outside of your services, it’s because your people are exactly that: YOUR people. And you haven’t been pointing them to anything other than your platform and the personalities on it. And if you’re a Christian who is counting on prayer to protect you, good luck, I guess, but why can’t a God that can protect you from what COVID can do, not protect you from whatever the vaccine might do? Your god is weird.

And your faith is dangerous. And not in the cool storming-the-gates-of-hell kinda way you might be imagining. The devil isn’t scared of you, but I am. Of you, for you. Because COVID is cold and impersonal, it is the genetically engineered shark in Deep Blue Sea and you are Samuel L. Jackson standing on the edge. Pontificating. And maybe you’ll make it to the end of your speech, but the whole time you’re standing there, the rest of us are worried. And you don’t care. You don’t care how much anxiety your “peace” is causing. You are ready to die on this hill. And maybe you will. And then what? How does that help your cause?

COVID is testing us all. And revealing us in so many ways. It recently took out someone I wasn’t particularly fond of. Someone who, from my perspective, had built a persona on being anti whatever they thought was displeasing to the people they were so desperate to be accepted by. So I find myself feeling sad and mad that I have to feel sad for this person. It didn’t have to be this way. They could have been anti something significant like racism, purity culture or the abuses of the megachurch system, but they chose the vaccine. THE VACCINE?! Seriously?? And now what?

Our lives are too short and too special to be wasted on spiritual battles with COVID-19. I got COVID in the first quarter of this year. It snuck into my bubble and got me. And it had me for about ten days. I didn’t feel good, but all things considered, I didn’t have it bad. And I am thankful for that, too thankful to be selfish and ungrateful. I wouldn’t wish COVID on anyone, so it’s my privilege to do what I can to protect everyone. Could the vaccine lead to some crazy side-effect some day? Anything is possible, but I guess y’all don’t love superheroes like you say you do, because my prayers would be that the vaccine I got on behalf of the greater good, would give me some kind of superpower to continue that mission. But chances are it won’t. Chances are it won’t do anything other than keeping me from getting or giving COVID. And you know what? I can live with that.


Janice Lagata was born in California, but born for New York. A writer, fighter, igniter and matron saint of cats; smirking is her favorite. She's "just a girl feeding herself to the world and asking it to love her" - that's a lyric from a song she wrote, you can probably find it and lots of other things she's working on by asking the internets for Jani the Cat and/or God Has Not Given.

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