Normalcy a bit odd but so welcome

Those of us who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can now gather in public or private settings, sans protective masks, and begin the transition back to how our lives were prior to March of 2020 when the world basically shut down due to mounting coronavirus. But this newfound freedom seems a bit odd and still raises concerns.

For more than a year, we read and heard about sicknesses, deaths, product shortages, quarantines, business and school closings and a myriad of other societal concerns as the virus devastated many parts of the world and to date, has caused more than 3.4 million deaths globally.

Our day-to-day lives were totally upended as we were forced to adapt to social isolation, unemployment, working from home, virtual meetings, and virtual education, but those concerns are slowly going away as more of the population is protected with vaccinations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent declaration says fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

It seems odd now to go into a restaurant or retail establishment without a mask, particularly when many others are still donning masks due to not being vaccinated or simply being uncomfortable because of fear or perceived pressure from others.

As odd as it may seem though, I am beyond happy that we can now begin the process of returning to our pre-COVID lives but I’m very much aware of the stares and glares I get from those who are not masked.

Few of us like to be judged by others, but we are all now faced with deciding whether to exercise the freedom our decision to be vaccinated has brought us or to be sympathetic to those who have not been vaccinated.

Initially, I had decided to continue to wear my mask as an effort to be a team player and not make anyone else uncomfortable. However, the more I’ve thought about the subject, I’ve decided that perhaps a better approach is to set a positive example for others by demonstrating my confidence in the vaccine and my desire to live a mask-free life.

If others see us without masks, it may possibly encourage them to also be vaccinated. We need as many people as possible to be vaccinated if the public is to begin to feel safe and live their lives accordingly.

According to Georgia Department of Public Health, both DeKalb County and the entire state of Georgia have a fully vaccinated rate of 31 percent, far below the suggested percentage of more than 60 percent of the population being fully vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

Those of us who are fully vaccinated may have to endure dirty or questioning looks from others but if enough of us demonstrate our confidence in the vaccine, perhaps others will be motivated to also be vaccinated. We’re at slightly more than 50 percent of where we need to be to reach immunity, but we can accomplish that goal if more people are willing to receive the vaccine. It behooves each of us to encourage others to consider being vaccinated if there are no underlying health or emotional concerns that may prevent it. The sooner we reach herd immunity, the sooner our lives will be more normal.

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