Skip to main content

Shots All Around!

My daughter got her first Covid vaccine shot over the weekend! Lots of her friends have also received theirs or have appointments coming up soon, and most of her older relatives have been boosted. We are all so happy and relieved that we can look forward to celebrating winter holidays and birthdays indoors with friends and family this year. We've waited so long for this!

And it was free! And, according to her, it didn't even hurt!

She felt a little bit of soreness at the injection site for a little while, and she was very sleepy all weekend, which I understand is a good sign that her immune system is working hard to gear up in response to the vaccine. We are very pleased, and our extended family is feeling major relief and hope for a more relaxed, pleasant winter.

Michigan is having a particularly rough go with the Covid at this moment in time, with outbreaks driven by Michigan's preteens and teens, and in these dire circumstances, it is so good to have a real reason to hope. We are about to enjoy the freedom to spend time with others again, because we have so many loved ones who are 100% vaccinated, who we can trust to have the courage to accept reality and the heart to still care about themselves and others after the last difficult couple of years, and care enough to put those feelings into action. Within this terrible plague, we can at least hold our vaccinated dear ones close without fear, in a little (but expanding) bubble of safe and caring love.

We're even entertaining the hope that we can make fun plans for going out in public again! Now that we are all vaccinated, which means we aren't likely to end up needing to hog a desperately scarce hospital bed or causing a loved one to die miserably or passing along a school outbreak, we can feel fine about going out to the movies, joining crowds at a festive zoo event, eating sushi indoors, visiting a cat cafe, and even having small birthday parties again. Oh, and going to the salon! And maybe, once community spread and heavy strain on the local hospitals ease up, I can even schedule author events to promote my novel and support my local bricks-and-mortar, paper-and-ink book shops. 

As a historical novelist and a fan of historical films and books, I am all too horribly aware of how plagues play out, how conspiracy theories about "government control" lead masses of people to early graves, how Darwinian selection does not successfully "clean out" the people who are likely to believe conspiracies that cause their own demise, because most human beings remain vulnerable to the influence of whatever their own family, friends, and trusted media sources tell them, no matter how patently insane or dangerous to their own children. Humans evolved to need social acceptance and to fear social isolation, and nefarious political actors are hyping up fears over real concerns (yes, vaccines have rare side effects; yes, there have been times when medical professionals and government officials of every political leaning have lied) and exaggerating them so much that they appear larger than dangers that are actually much bigger (yes, everyone is going to get Covid, and your risks of disability and death are far higher from not getting a vaccine than from getting one; yes, shady internet trolls and screaming heads on the old-people's TV programs are far likelier to lie to you and scam you than your doctor or your local health department). Every time something scary and confusing happens, it's an opportunity for bad actors like scam artists, cult leaders, and corrupt politicians to jump in and offer to "rescue" people from a possibly real but small danger and steer them straight into a larger problem.

It's like when people get into car accidents because they are startled by a bug inside of the car while they're driving. The danger of steering your fast-moving car into the side of a Dollar Store is obviously larger than the danger of being bitten by a tiny spider, but humans are silly things whose fear buttons can easily be hijacked into a reaction that, in isolation, might have been rational (it's good to avoid spider bites) yet in a certain context (driving a car) causes senseless death. And you don't have to be stupid or uneducated to fall victim to an irrational fear that sends you hopping from the pot into the fire.

Risk factors for getting hoodwinked into a conspiracy include feelings of loneliness and abandonment, and our culture of non-support for parents has worn many parents of young kids into the perfect hapless victims of this mindset.

When communities around parents threaten to disapprove or even shun them if they vaccinate their kids, many parents will not have the gumption to do it, even though they know factually that leaving their kids at the mercy of Covid, which nobody will escape in the long run, is far more dangerous than getting them a shot. The mental math is: If I vaccinate my child and social harm results, or a rare side effect occurs, I can be blamed and shamed for that. If I please my abusive and deluded community by not vaccinating my child and my child gets Covid, it will be an act of God that my dumb-dumb relatives will never blame me for, and maybe they will even shower my family with the love that we desperately need, out of pity for our illness.



As a result, only a quarter of my daughter's peers will be allowed to receive the benefit of lifesaving vaccination in time for Christmas. Most of them will be okay anyway; some will suffer needlessly; some will become permanently disabled; some will lose family members to preventable Covid complications or to a lack of medical care while the hospitals overflow. There is nothing I can do about that, because human beings are tragically irrational, but I can still be thankful that my family is more proactive and free to do the right thing than most, allowing us to escape the fate of this next cycle of misery that will go down in history as a great tragedy for many other families.

And if my family can influence even one other family to get that vaccine faster and save some lives and some qualities of life this holiday season, I'm willing to risk the judgment of speaking this truth. 

I'm excited about so many possibilities opening back up for me and my family personally again, but most of all I'm excited about the relief from the daily dread that my family will become involved in an outbreak at work and school. I know the outbreaks will continue for some time, especially while other parents remain paralyzed by fears of false rumors and unfair social condemnation. And while that suffering runs its course, at least I won't have to worry about my own child getting seriously ill or accidentally contributing to the orphaning of one of her friends. No child deserves that, no matter how helpless their parents are.

Our kids have given up so much of their childhoods already, and at my house, the buck stops here. This is their shot at freedom, their shot at safety from the threats of MIS-C and Long Covid and myocarditis and other Covid complications that are far more common than rare vaccine side effects and far more dangerous to them than some old boomer relative's passive-aggressive comments at Thanksgiving dinner. This is their shot at avoiding the trauma of losing any more grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents to a preventable, agonizing, and lonely early death. This is their shot at breathing easy again. This is their shot at a full life.

I'm so grateful that I have been able to provide my daughter with this marvelous ticket to relief and joy before Christmas. And I hope that everyone in your life, ages five and up, can get their shot too!


Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be: You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")    35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't

Happy Daylight Spending Time!

Happy Daylight Spending Time! It's finally our chance to enjoy the quality of life offered by Real Time. Now we can sleep until almost dawn, commute to work and school in the actual morning instead of during the night, savor the golden hour of the evening with active quality time outdoors without pushing into what should be winding-down time, and then relax into the beauty of a backyard bonfire or a candlelit dinner or a holiday light viewing stroll before the hour required of most human beings to go to bed in order to receive a healthy amount of sleep. Ah, what a relief from the unsustainable grind of Daylight Saving Time! It is fashionable to hate on the end of Daylight Saving Time, but I will not be fooled into participating in that griping. I believe that most of the whiners are conflating the onset of Standard Time with the time of year when the overall amount of actual daylight decreases naturally in the northern realms of the Earth, which is a fact of life outside the contr

Have a Vaxxed, Relaxed Holiday Season!

You deserve it. You've survived almost two years of a global pandemic and done everything in your power to take good care of yourself and your family and your larger community, all during a surge in stress, meanness, white supremacist violence, basic Karen-ing, economic hardship, unnecessary bad vibes, and rants about the government infecting people with magic octopi. Good onya, champion! You made it this far! Last year's holiday season was sketchy and filled with family drama (or isolation from family), but this year's doesn't have to be. This year, everyone ages 12 and up (without medical conditions that preclude them from gaining immunity via a vaccine) has had a chance to get fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. And everyone ages 5 and up (without those medical exceptions) has a chance to get fully vaccinated by Christmas. Pregnant and breastfeeding parents who get vaccinated can even confer immunity to their little ones in the womb or via breastmilk. How

Pocket of Joy: Starting a Shiny New Project

Oh, the buoyant thrill of a sparkly new idea! Ooh, the giddy joy of starting in on it--like planting the first footprint on a blanket of new-fallen snow, or drawing the first line on a clean sheet of paper, or sweeping the first brushstroke of slick, wet paint across a wall! Of course, it takes follow-through to manifest a dream through the sweaty, dirty, messy middle of any big project. But when you know you can do it, you can hold onto that shiny new feeling to sustain you all the way to the finish. Here I am chiseling away at the remains of my old kitchen back in the spring, when my new kitchen lived only in my imagination. My husband and I have been working on our kitchen (with my parents' help early on) for four months now. Our summer has been a marathon of hard, sweaty, dirty work littered with setbacks, frustrations, and frequent changes of plans--including the decision to redo our main bathroom at the same time, while we're at it! Anyone who has repaired or remodeled a

Pocket of Joy: Wearing Purple

Being human is crazy, full stop. It's a blessing to be able to transcend the drama, rise above trends, and get to a place where you can just start wearing purple. My daughter is a pretty normal kid who had a pretty normal childhood up until the pandemic, compared to how her parents grew up. We are beyond proud and happy that her first decade of life has contained far less drama and trauma than either of ours did. And yet, there is no escaping the broad insanity that is human life, for everyone, everywhere, in every generation. Fortunately, our daughter has somehow inherited our creativity and wicked sense of humor without being forced to develop those traits as coping mechanisms. What fun! She loves campy horror and the cheesy occult. Her style is a little edgy without any true angst behind it. At the moment, her favorite colors are black and purple. And I feel like, somehow, some way, all of this has helped her to take the pandemic in stride. She has a firm grasp on fantasy versus

Treat Yourself to a Good Old-Fashioned Novel

'Tis the season for reading! Many people have done their holiday shopping early this year or simplified or opted out of a lot of the usual hustling and bustling of this time. Here in Michigan, we're still in a high risk pandemic situation, and now there's a new variant circulating in the world that might render our exciting new booster shots less effective than we had hoped they would be. We are all in need of safe comforts at this time, and what could be safer or more snuggly than an immersive adventure tale full of purely fictional drama and peril that has nothing to do with the real storms outside of our windows right now?  It doesn't matter much whether you cuddle into bed with a luscious, thick hardcover object of beauty or a sleek ebook reader. The benefits of reading anything that engages your mind, but especially fiction and most especially literary fiction, are vast and well-documented. You can read all about it in  Harper's Bazaar , BBC Culture , and Healt

Pocket of Joy: The Indiana Jones Door Slide

I find that sometimes when the gods close a door, you can run and slide through the crack at the very last second. And even reach back to grab your hat, if you're quick! Indiana Jones Door Close GIF from Indiana Jones GIFs   This feels like the vibe for all of my home and auto repairs over the past year as well as how I released my novel, and it feels like how I'll need to finish my 2021 Christmas shopping. Over the summer, my family went through a harrowing adventure in major home repairs and maintenance that suddenly seemed financially possible due to those stimulus payments and that free student loan forbearance. My husband and I, with the help of my parents, spent the summer and early fall doing most of the work ourselves to demolish and rebuild our kitchen and main bathroom, which had seemed to fall to pieces all at once, just like our furnace and vintage pickup truck did the moment we finished renovations. Thank goodness for emergency savings and credit cards! In the Tim

LEIRAH AND THE WILD MAN Now Available in Ebook Formats

It's my last 30-something birthday today! And in celebration of what I hope will be my last birthday that requires me to work creatively around plague conditions, I have released Leirah and the Wild Man in affordable ebook formats!  Are you bummed out about travel difficulties and shipping delays as we enter yet another Covid-complicated holiday season? Relief is here! Enjoy this cheap, instant-gratification ticket to a wild and exciting adventure full of 100% imaginary peril, which you can enjoy snug within the comfort of your own bed, pillow-and-blanket-heaped couch by the fire, or bubble bath if you have the right kind of protection on your reading device. Read a free excerpt of the Kindle version at Read a free excerpt of the Nook version at Leirah and the Wild Man: A Tale of Obsession and Survival at the Edges of the Byzantine World is a historical thriller set in the 11th century. Leirah dreams of stealing a Viking longship, hunting pirates,

Pocket of Joy: Supply-Unchained Gift Giving

Happy Hannukah, St. Nicholas, Solstice, Christmas, Three Kings, Kwanzaa, birthday, or other winter celebration that involves gift-giving! This is a great year to try out some buy-nothing-new gift ideas that don't fit in a box or that can be wrapped creatively, using found-around-the-house materials like old scarves or tea towels, craft materials, holiday catalogs from your junk mail, or painted-over shoeboxes. There are many ways to get festive and express generosity toward loved ones without spending a lot of money or worrying about shipping and delivery, such as... delivering homemade baked goods or casseroles giving handmade crafts hosting a game night, in-person among the vaccinated or virtual to include parents of young children, the immunocompromised, and others too vulnerable to gather safely indoors regifting new stuff you don't want or need regifting your own used books scouring thrift stores for funny/ugly holiday sweaters getting vaccinated, then offering childcare,