Random Thoughts: I got my shots but I’m keeping my mask

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By Travis Mounts
Managing editor

As this week’s paper hits mailboxes, I am able to consider myself fully vaccinated. Actually, that day was Wednesday, when the papers went to the post office – two full weeks to the day after my second shot and five weeks since my first shot.
Knowing that I’m vaccinated is a comfort. I don’t have any concerns, in part because I know the chances of any side effect are much, much smaller than the odds of actually getting COVID-19, which has now claimed more than 550,000 American lives.
When you see me around, you’ll likely notice that I’m still wearing a mask. There are a few reasons.
One is that while I now have immunity, I don’t have invincibility. Just last week, one county in California reported that out of roughly 400 new cases of COVID-19, 39 were in people who were vaccinated. That figure seems to match up with an efficacy rate approaching 90 percent.
We need to remember that the main purpose of the vaccine is to keep us alive, and to lessen the symptoms and the danger if we do get sick. Keeping us from catching COVID-19 is a secondary goal. Evidence seems to indicate that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the disease. The more of us who do get vaccinated, the more likely we are to reach herd immunity. And the closer we get to herd immunity, the sooner we can actually return to life as we knew it.
That chance that Icould still catch the disease – and the chance that I could spread the disease – is why I will keep wearing my mask for now.
My mask has yet to cost me an actual civil liberty. My right to vote has not changed; actually, state legislatures are doing more to curtail voting rights than masks are. I can profess whatever religious or political beliefs that I like. I can live where I want, travel freely, work in whatever career I choose, affiliate with the people I want to be with. All the things that considered actual civil rights, I still have.
That doesn’t mean I like wearing a mask, but to me it still feels like the right thing to do. And that is how I have always felt. I put on a mask before there were any mandates. I did so because health officials asked me to do it, for the health of others and later for myself.
And health officials are still recommending we mask up. I’m doing it for people like my nieces and nephews who are too young to get vaccinated now. I’m doing it for people whose health prohibits them from getting vaccinated. And I’m doing it for the people who have refused to wear their own masks and now are refusing to get their vaccines, whatever their reasons may be.
I’m doing it because I was asked to doing something for my friends and neighbors, and that’s what feels right to me.
I grew up a true Gen Xer – suspicious of anybody in power. I question the motives of the powerful. But I also grew up in a time when there was a much, much higher trust in science. Science seemed above the bullcrap of politics, and I still feel that way. The motives of politicians always seem more questionable than the motives of scientists. As Americans, we struggle to understand the absence of something as a sign of success. However, the absence of things like polio and smallpox speaks to me about the faith we should have in vaccinations.
Besides, what can a computer chip in my arm tell about me that isn’t available through my cell phone, my internet history and whatever the NSA listened to during the Bush and Obama administrations?
With two shots in my arms and one mask on my face, I am looking forward to reclaiming my life.