I canceled going to Canada to ski this month. Yes, I’m worried about the infectiousness of omicron and the need for constant risk-assessment once again. But what’s worse are the emotions swirling in my head as I think about certain friends and family members.
Close family friends, with three children under age five, aren’t vaccinated. As African Americans, they say they can’t trust white science. I get that and, okay, I am angry. His parents and her mom are vaccinated and boosted. Her dad is vaccinated but not boosted, because his suspicions led him to wait until September to get his first jab. He also has multiple comorbidities. They’ve been regulars at our house for Christmas dinner, but this year I uninvited the unvaccinated family. Her mom and brother came; her dad had sniffles. We wore masks until we ate.
Now, both members of this unvaccinated couple have COVID. Her parents are caring for the children while the kids’ parents recover. The grandparents were advised to mask, since one or more of the children may have COVID, but they’re not masking. The unvaccinated couple isn’t very sick, which I’m glad of, but I wish they’d worry about her parents and re-evaluate getting vaccinated. Today, their one-year-old is headed to the ER, with COVID and wheezing.
Lessons learned by anyone? I’m not optimistic. But I keep trying to show compassion and support.
My son had COVID last year. He is vaccinated but not yet boosted. He lives in a state with a 53% vaccination rate. He went to a large Christmas gathering. Most of the attendees, including my son, now have COVID. He’s not symptomatic, aside from irritation that he has to isolate.
Today, I heard that the friend’s mother-in-law, who is a transplant recipient, developed a non-COVID illness requiring a 911 call. The medics refused to take her to the hospital because there were no beds and a seventeen-hour ER wait.
Not skiing in Canada is a bummer. But it is nothing compared my frustration with the voluntarily unvaccinated. And that is nothing compared to the work of my still clinically active friends who have to manage the omicron wave with the same dedication, skill, and, yes, empathy, that they mustered for past waves—knowing that much of their burden could be prevented if more Americans were vaccinated and if we as a country were doing more to vaccinate those in other countries.