Sometime in the not to distant future, I anticipate being informed by Kaiser Permanente, my HMO, that I have been selected to get my COVID 19 vaccination. I don’t know if I will be in an early selected group, but being in a high-risk category, because of my age and health history, I believe I might be. Let’s assume, however, that I am.
First, I will need to make the decision whether I wish to get vaccinated or to wait. For me, that decision is simple as I believe the danger of complications from the vaccine will be far less than that if I caught COVID 19, so yes, I will choose to get vaccinated.
To me, that decision is simple, but what I will do afterward is not. A lot will depend upon how sure I am that the vaccine is actually effective. No matter what, I most likely will continue to be careful as before, keeping my social distance, washing my hands, and wearing a mask in public, frustrated but personally feeling safer than before.
However, that is me. What about all the rest of the people that get the vaccine. Will, they also continue to be careful afterward, or will they chuck the mask and try to go back to life as before? And, if that is what they try to do, how will they be treated by others who are not already vaccinated?
Firstly even if they had some proof of their vaccination, like a card, badge, armband, or whatever, they most likely would still be refused entry into public facilities that require masks. Having proof of their vaccination only means that they are less likely to get infected. It doesn’t mean that others cannot get infected from them, as some people might assuredly believe, especially those prone to conspiracy theories. So, I expect there will be some very heated confrontations with those people adamant about the use of masks.
Then let us suppose it is proved to the public’s satisfaction that people who are vaccinated cannot be carriers of the disease and that they issue us the before mentioned cards, armbands, or whatever to prove we have been vaccinated? How long do you think it will be before those are counterfeited for use by people who do like wearing a mask or just refuse to wear one?
Try as I may unless everyone is vaccinated at almost the same time, which definitely is not going to happen, I cannot imagine what will all take place. Such as, how are people that are vaccinated going to treat others that are not vaccinated? Will they try to avoid them where possible, or maybe even treat them with disdain? If either of those happens, I believe we will quickly degenerate into a two-class system, the vaccinated and those who are not. I can easily imagine parties and get-togethers where only those who are vaccinated are welcome or invited to attend, as that is what I suspect I would probably do. As a bellwether of what to expect, Quantas Airlines has said they anticipate having flights restricted to only those who are vaccinated.
I assume that those awaiting their vaccination will continue on carefully as before. But what about those that refuse to be vaccinated? How will they respond? Are they just going to continue to take their chances and go on as before, hoping the disease will eventually go away or believing it is just a big hoax?
And yes, I am sure there will also be many others who will walk some middle ground as they wait until they feel the vaccines are safe and effective. I would assume in the interim, most will be smart enough to continue to go on using masks, social distancing, and washing their hands often as before.
And if you can somehow get your head around those personal issues, how are governments, institutions, and large companies going to respond? Will they continue with restrictions and public mask requirements until the infection rates drop below a threshold, or will they somehow try to make them apply only those not yet vaccinated and exempt those who are? If they do that, I can only imagine all the protests that will undoubtedly spring up worldwide.
So what now? As Aldous Huxley said, “It will be a brave new world!”