By Scott Charles

Scott CharlesLike everyone else, this pandemic has been a tremendous struggle, with the shutdowns and limits on the way I can engage with loved ones and friends and family members.

It’s placed a tremendous strain on relationships and the very things that make us whole. I long for that sense of connectedness — like so many others. I know people who’ve become sick as a result of COVID, who’ve died as a result of COVID.

I lost an uncle recently to COVID. So, there aren’t many of us who are immune from this disease and its consequences and complications.

Science Over Apprehension

I received the first dose in January, and then had the follow-up a few weeks later.

I think that I had some apprehension when I first heard that this vaccine was being developed so quickly. And then I started looking into the science and hearing how the very technology and the innovations that have allowed it to reach the public is something that was in the works for some time. But given our history with medicine, I had a lot of apprehensions.

The thing that persuaded me was that we need masses of people — large numbers of society to become vaccinated before it can have benefits for anyone. And so, I didn’t just see this as being a benefit to me, but ultimately, for society.

Sharing a Common Space Without Fear

One of the things that I will look forward to once everyone in my family has been vaccinated is to share common space with them without wearing a mask or having that lingering fear in the back of my head that I might be exposing them to the virus. I look forward to being in public spaces again and eating in restaurants. Much of my connecting with family and friends happened in public spaces.

I look forward to a time when we’re all back to some sense of normalcy and we’re able to take our masks off and hear each other and have regular conversations. And I think that’s part of the freedom that this vaccine will ultimately provide — the ability to get back to normal. Without it, I just don’t see how we move forward. I don’t see how we get past where we are right now.

Saving Our Community, Legacy, And Ourselves

This vaccine represents a chance to save ourselves. Without getting it, we are dying at a disproportionate rate. And to me, dying is not the best alternative. The science has progressed such that this is providing us with an opportunity to save ourselves and to save the seniors in our community. I think all the time about how not only is COVID hitting Black and brown communities in such a hard way, but it’s taking the brain trust — It’s taking all of the institutional knowledge with it.

And that means that we’re losing our grandparents, and those are the people that can tell our stories, that can pass along our rituals and our history and our culture.

One of the reasons I encourage everybody to get the vaccine is to save that part of our legacy and to do what we can. We cannot afford to lose so many of the elders in our communities.