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The end of the pandemic?

Started: 2021-05-26 20:17:44

Submitted: 2021-05-26 23:07:59

Visibility: World-readable

Finding the end of the tunnel

Last Saturday was two weeks after getting my second shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, so I am now fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2.

For me, this approximates the end of the pandemic: My risk of catching the virus at all has dropped precipitously, and my risk of developing a symptomatic case, or passing on the virus if I were to be infected, or developing a serious case have dropped to approximately zero. I'm still going to be careful, but sometime soon I am going to eat indoors at a restaurant again, and meet people in person who I don't live with, and get on an airplane. I've stepped out of the tunnel and I am so happy to be out in the open again, after an interminably long walk through the long dark pandemic, that I'm just going to wait here for a bit before moving on.

East portal of the Snoqualmie Tunnel
East portal of the Snoqualmie Tunnel

I had a mild reaction to both shots: fatigue for a couple of days (it felt like jet lag, in that I was tired immediately after supper), a mild headache, and my shoulder hurt at the injection site. I got off easy with my mild reaction, but it did mean I can't use my reaction to the shots to guess whether I was exposed to COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic. (Anecdotally, I'm told, from non-statistical surveys, people who had COVID-19 had a worse reaction to the first shot than the second shot, and those who didn't have COVID-19 had a worse reaction to the second shot.) It seems plausible that the ugly-flu-like symptoms Kiesa had at the end of February 2020 might have been COVID-19, since in retrospect the disease was already circulating in Seattle, though at the time no one knew of any community transmission outside of clusters in nursing homes and no one could get tested unless they'd personally traveled to China. Now we will never know for sure, but I guess it doesn't really matter.

Crochet coronavirus
Crochet coronavirus

The rest of my immediate family is not quite as vaccinated as I am, but we're making progress.

Two days after I got my second shot, the FDA met to approve the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use authorization for 12-to-15-year-olds. I now have a 12-year-old in my family, so three days later (after the CDC and various other advisory boards met to make their own decisions about the vaccine) when California started allowing vaccine appointments for kids, Kiesa got Calvin an appointment to get his shot that morning in Santa Cruz, then bribed him with doughnuts and skipping school to encourage him to get the shot. We were not quite the first in line, but it was close.

Kiesa got her second Moderna shot last week, and will hit the magic two-week "fully vaccinated" mark next week.

That leaves Julian as the only unvaccinated member of my family. As a six-year-old, he's not yet able to get the shot, and it's unclear when he will be. (Maybe not until the end of the year, as the expectation management is leading me expect believe.) As a younger child, he's less at risk for COVID-19 than anyone else, but his risk is still not technically zero. (Now that I'm fully vaccinated his risk is probably higher than mine, but comparative risks with very small denominators are fraught with statistical noise.)

This is further complicated by the fact that the CDC announced that fully-vaccinated people can simply walk right into Mordor without wearing their mask, providing cover for anti-maskers to lie and claim they were vaccinated when in fact they're just sociopaths. On the bright side at least California is keeping its mask mandate until 15th June, and the Bay Area currently has some of the highest vaccine rates and lowest COVID-19 rates anywhere in the country. This will probably keep Julian safe as long as we don't stray too far from home, but we should probably avoid Disneyland this year until everyone can get the shot.

I am impressed by how fast we managed to roll out the vaccine and by how far case counts have dropped, at least in California and in the US. (Other parts of the world, notably India, are doing much worse.) The global pandemic isn't over until it's over globally, but in the short term I'm still going to count my own shot as a major victory in the overall war against COVID-19.

Most of what I've told you is an absolute fact.
- Doug Logan, 22 December 1999