A Shot in the Arm

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Months before the current semester started, I was asked to decide if I wanted to teach in-person or virtually this term. This was before any vaccines for COVID-19 had even been announced, let alone approved and rolled out, so I didn’t have much trouble deciding to do online learning for yet another semester. After I made that decision, that gave me a lot of room to work with, since I haven’t taught in-person classes over the summer here in Wisconsin yet, so by teaching online for spring semester, I was probably going to be able to stay in my apartment nearly all of the time until August at the earliest. I was hoping that vaccinations would start rolling out during that time, and that turned out to be exactly what happened.

Once the first COVID-19 vaccines were approved, that then raised the question of when I would pursue my own vaccination. As important as it is for educators to get vaccinated as quickly as possible (especially those being forced to teach in-person right now), because I was in a position where I basically didn’t need to worry about getting vaccinated for months because I’m working online and I live alone, and I’m far-better equipped psychologically for isolation than many people are (I’ve been having loneliness issues lately, but not to any great extent), I figured that I would hold off on looking for a vaccine until the summer, so someone else could get vaccinated more quickly than I could. As long as I could get mine handled before fall semester started, I figured that I’d be good to go.

Last week, though, I got an email from work stating that plans were underway for us instructors to get vaccinated on campus if we weren’t already getting vaccines through other means. No dates were announced for the on-campus programme; they just wanted people who wanted to handle things that way to email them back, in order to give them a headcount for whatever they come up with. Given the timing, I’m guessing that the vaccinations will probably take place in middle to late spring, which is probably good for my colleagues who live with their families, but doesn’t make sense for me since I won’t really need a vaccination until mid-summer.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that it probably is in my best interest to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. On top of the concerns of the new strains of COVID-19 that appear to be more easily transmitted through the air (it’s not like I’m in total hermit mode here), I can’t deny that the emotional and psychological heft of the pandemic is getting to me right now more than it has before. I’d been doing a good job of keeping my emotions in check for a while (it’s easier to do that when I’m bombarded with daily reminders of how many people are suffering right now), but in the middle of last month I got genuinely upset for the first time in several months, and since the extreme weather shifts here this past month have caused me no end of sinus troubles that have made it harder for me to get a good night’s rest, I still don’t feel like I’m on as secure of a footing, either mentally or emotionally, as I’ve been during the rest of the pandemic. While this hasn’t disrupted my obligations to others yet, I’ve grown increasingly worried that it’s only a matter of time before that happens, and I owe it to others to avoid that possibility as much as I can.

As a result, I sent an email back to campus and told them that I’d like to be vaccinated through whatever programme they set up here. Maybe I don’t need the vaccine as much as others do, but I’m feeling more and more like once I get my vaccinations, I’ll be able to function more effectively. It’s hardly like the pandemic is the only thing I have to worry about right now, and the less I have on my mind, the better I’ll be able to work on all that other stuff. I can’t say that I haven’t second-guessed my decision to get vaccinated sooner rather than later, but I know that I don’t have time for second-guessing much of anything right now, so I hope I can just move past this here quickly, get my vaccinations in the spring, and then do everything I can to adjust to the post-pandemic “normal” in time to teach my students as well as I can, back in the classrooms here in Wisconsin, once September rolls around.

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