Since I am a doctor, I had the privilege of being one of the first to be vaccinated. Of course, since I was coming in contact with sick people almost every day, that made sense. I’m also 66 years old so I was grateful to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
At this point, it would probably be just fine from a medical standpoint for me to go pretty much anywhere I want without wearing a mask. Even the early concern that people who were vaccinated might still be able to pass the virus from person to person without themselves getting sick seems to have very little evidence to support it.
So why do I still wear a mask? Because there are a lot of people who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet.
Because there are a lot of people who have questioned the importance of masks for the past 14 months leading to untold illness and death which could have been avoided.
Because I don’t want to be out in the world and have people see me not wearing a mask and think, “Oh, that guy’s not wearing a mask. I guess I don’t have to.”
Because even though the chance of me getting sick or of me passing the virus to another person is still very small, it is real.
Because it is my obligation as a citizen of this nation.
I don’t like wearing masks.
I know my nose gets runnier when I’m wearing a mask than when I’m not.
I know that the backs of my ears get really irritated from the elastic bands after eight hours of wearing a mask.
I know I have to smell whatever I had for lunch for the rest of the afternoon.
But I hope that in the very near future enough people will have gotten over their misgivings about getting vaccinated that we can have true herd immunity, and we will be able to get rid of our masks, whether we are outside or inside.
And I am very hopeful about that. While the news media too frequently come up with sensationalist headlines decrying the percentage of people who arec still wary of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, they would serve our current needs better if they trumpeted the fact that the numbers of people who are interested and eager to get their vaccines are growing week by week, day by day.
For decades I have been a champion of vaccinations, but in the case of COVID-19 vaccines I endorse that it made sense to be a bit hesitant about getting vaccinated. Though the technology around it has been in development for over a decade, and even though the testing and approval process for the COVID-19 vaccines has been just as rigorous as it has been for any vaccine, this vaccine is still very new and, like pretty much everything about the past year, was full of unanswered questions.
Now that more and more people are getting vaccinated and have stated publicly and proudly that they did well afterwards and that they feel a real sense of relief about having gotten vaccinated, the numbers of those who are avoiding vaccination are decreasing. I wish the news media would focus more on how many more late adopters are now seeking out this lifesaving technology than on the dwindling numbers of those who don’t.
So, yes, I will continue to wear a mask anytime I’m indoors with other people and when I am outdoors with large numbers of people. I won’t wear it when I’m walking in my neighborhood or riding my bike around the park or sitting on my back porch or in my house on my own. I will, of course, continue to wear it while I’m at work and seeing patients because I do care about their health and I want them to know it.
And while, from a scientific standpoint, there is more and more evidence that we will soon be able to get rid of our masks in many more settings, we’re not quite there yet. So until then, I will continue to wear my mask.