Last evening at the conclusion of a meeting, the suggestion was made to meet at a popular suburban St. Paul tavern across the street. It was about 6 p.m., and it seemed a good idea. Only three of us went.
The place was packed, ordinary people like ourselves. No one was masked – that’s not out of compliance now. But it still made me nervous, and I stayed around only a short time, and went home.
While we waited for the third in our party, I asked a colleague, “have you had the vaccination?” “No”. “What vaccine did you get?”, he asked. “Pfizer – the two shots”. I don’t think either of us were wanting to dive into the weeds on going deeper into this conversation. So I don’t know why he hasn’t been vaccinated. Certainly, it’s not because it’s unaccessible to him by now. Minnesota has a pretty solid record of implementation, I think. I got my shots on February 4 and 25. I was a bit more tired than usual the day after the second shot, but that was about it.
Whirling around this little vignette, this week, is the assorted national news most everybody can see on the news or in the newspaper or on the internet: stories about lottery tickets for people to get the vaccine, or assorted other incentives; anti-vacc campaigns; general hostility to rules or requests. Today’s Just Above Sunset summarizes well the discouraging words around the country: “Only Chaos Now”.
There are fewer signs up suggesting masking, or social distance etc. I’ve already described the tavern; at my coffee place, most people still come in with masks; for some months there’s no requirement to mask in restaurants and the like, though seating is limited.
It is suggested that those who haven’t received the vaccine wear a mask; my guess is that those I see wearing masks are those who have received the vaccine. The others resisted the mask, just as they are resisting the vaccine – nobody will tell me what to do.
I think back to a specific time in my olden days.
In my memory, I’m about 14, 1954 or so, in Wahpeton ND, and we’re in line to receive the Salk Polio vaccine, just released for public use.
I was 14, so I don’t know first hand if there were protests against the vaccine. I know it was taken very seriously; I know people who had polio, some who still live and endure post-polio effects.
Back then there were no lottery tickets to entice people to get a shot they should have rushed to receive.
There have been similar campaigns at other times: TB, smallpox, measles…. Public health has always mattered, and to be effective the public has to be cooperative.
It was the tenor of the place that caused me to leave the tavern after only about a half-hour last night. The conversation will have to wait for another setting, at another time.
from Norm, with permission (he wrote this on another network I’m part of). He has direct and career experience with health policy at the state level in Minnesota: