Last month, my wife and I stopped at a brewery for lunch and beer. Our morning spent exploring Snow Mountain on skis called for a midday replenishment. Inside, the bartender poured our liquid calories. Outdoors, we traipsed across snow to a food truck and ordered the local favorite, walking tacos with cactus.
By noon, the sun’s warmth made outdoor dining surprisingly pleasant for winter here in the Icebox of the Nation. It sure felt good to be alive at this very moment in time. Not just good but lucky, too. Coronavirus be damned and the heck with politics.
A young couple and an older couple were busy doing likewise behind the brewery. They stuffed themselves politely, chatted about gorgeous weather, fresh powder and so forth.
The young couple had traveled from the brotherly love town of Philadelphia. They situated themselves at the far end of a picnic bench and nodded an invitation to park ourselves at the near end. We did so and dug into our walking tacos. I must’ve looked like a happy horse with a feedbag of carrots.
The older couple, vacationing from the cheese state of Wisconsin, relaxed in nearby chairs and made idle conversation with the Philadelphians. We joined in with a routine question.
What brings you all to the Fraser Valley… knowing you’re now, uh, “Leaving Planet Earth?”
They said it was mostly their need to get away, but also to ski the bumps and see the sights. What they didn’t have to explain was obvious in their casual comments about experiencing the great outdoors and breathing clean air. Both couples, who hadn’t known each other until they arrived here for lunch, had one thing in common. They desperately wanted to exit their big cities where infection rates were skyrocketing for the safer, wide open spaces of the Rockies. Who couldn’t relate to that sentiment.
To an outside observer who might have come upon this scene, there was nothing extraordinary going on here. Six people couples, four of them well past middle age, scarfed up local fare and engaged in lively conversation about nothing more serious than nice weather. Check that.
A serious, if subtle ingredient was present. We talked about vaccinations to fight Covid-19. Not sure who brought it up but it didn’t matter. The Philadelphians said nearby New Jersey was stumbling in its roll-out of the vaccine. This fact clearly troubled them. We said that we looked forward to getting our first shots soon.
The Wisconsin couple, probably about 60 years old, indicated they weren’t ready to get vaccinated. Definitely not. One of them explained, “I’m not putting foreign substances into my body.” She added, “We’re waiting for herd immunity.”
On another day in another time and place, such a comment might have gone unnoticed. Although I’m not sure when and where that would be. At any rate, on this particular Thursday in March 2021, the woman’s explanation struck me as irresponsible and ridiculous.
I wanted to say something that would persuade her otherwise but didn’t. Save for eating and drinking, we kept our mouths shut in order to avoid turning a pleasant lunch with perfect strangers into a barroom brawl.
Soon enough our conversations returned to more neutral topics like the weather. Everybody talks about it but nobody does anything about it.
The pilsners washed it all down like the Fraser River does snow melt. What stuck in my craw was not a walking taco but the misguided notion that herd immunity will happen no matter who or how many get vaccinated. That’s like calling the blue sky black only worse.
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past 15 months, you know the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that all Covid-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been shown to prevent people from contracting the virus.
Unless you think politics more important than your own life, you know these vaccines have been carefully evaluated by highly trained medical experts in clinical trials. Unless you think social media rumors more valid than scientific studies, you know these vaccines protect you and others from getting seriously ill and dying even if you do contract the virus.
Unless you prefer bullcrap over facts, you know herd immunity helps prevent the disease from spreading and protects those who cannot be vaccinated like newborns. While experts don’t yet know precisely what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, vaccination is everyone’s responsibility to end this pandemic.
Even if it came to an ugly outcome on a beautiful day, I should’ve said these things to our friends from Wisconsin. I regret not doing speaking my mind. Maybe they’ve changed their minds and decided to be vaccinated. I hope so.