Pandemic Conundrums

I will be careful…

But I’m coming out.

We’ve had our vaccines. We are past the “immunization build-up” period. I want to jump back into life.

I want to see my family. I want to HUG my family. Long hugs that will express the sadness of months of isolation and the unbelievable joy of being together again.

It’s silly in a way because it’s not unusual to go one or two years between visits, especially with the farther flung kids. But there were always one or two who were just an hour or two away by car. I could get the occasional fix. I think the forced isolation of the pandemic has exaggerated otherwise normal separations. Before, I could get up and go at a moment’s notice. Sure, I could still do that at any time this last year, there were very good reasons not to. So we did not go anywhere or see anyone.

Now we have just one daughter living within that two-hour driving window. And in an amazing bit of luck, she has been vaccinated because she works in a dental office. But this is where the conundrum begins.

She’s the only one in her household who has been vaccinated. But they both work outside the home. They are also grandparents to my two precious great-grandchildren and those kids are often at their house. I want to see those kiddos so bad, it hurts.

Seriously, can you blame me?

How safe are we for them? How safe are they for us?

The official word is that the Moderna vaccine is 90% – 95% effective at preventing or reducing the main variant of Covid-19. That’s good enough for me. Except it’s not the whole story.

The next official word begins with the phrase “we don’t know” and ends with “keep restrictions in place.” Which sends everyone up the wall with frustration and skepticism. It frustrates me but I understand why they “don’t know.” I understand they rushed approval so we could get vaccines sooner, and did not have time to finish studies that show them if the vaccine keeps us from passing infection to others, and studies to show them how long the protection lasts. Those studies can take up to two or three years to complete.

I’m sure they have actual studies going, but in effect, we are all part of the experiment. A lot of people are just going to do whatever they want and a a lot of those folks want no restrictions. Well, I want that, too, but I’m not going to pretend it’s a hoax just because I don’t like it. I plan to do my part to stay healthy and keep others from getting it. It’s hard to stick with though, because I personally only know a few people who have had Covid. One of those was my son, who is a critical care nurse and takes care of Covid patients in the ICU on every shift. That’s a lot more exposure than I’ll ever have.

At the same time, at least half of my family have happily ignored all or most of the restrictions this whole time. None of them have caught Covid. It makes it very hard for me to continue the routine. I want to visit them and have dinner and play and talk and hug. The heck with caution. Get out the party hats.

With Claire, the Irish hostess sublime, TMC 2012

But people are catching Covid and cases always go up when restrictions are eased. And then there are those blasted variants. How I hate that word. Viruses mutate. They always have, they always will. It’s why we have to get a flu shot every year and a pneumonia vaccine, too (at least at my age. I don’t think everyone has to get a pneumonia vaccine every year.)

Covid is a new virus and those damn variants are the next part of the official words we hear: “the vaccine does not appear to be as effective against (this or that) variant.” Yes, more studies need to be done. And maybe we need a booster.

I don’t mind continuing to wear a mask if I have to go out. I don’t mind keeping six feet from others or meeting outdoors. I know I can visit with people who have been vaccinated and trust me, there are plans in play. But can I or can I not see family members who have not been vaccinated? How high is the risk to me or them? Aren’t we all at less of a risk when some of us are vaccinated? How much less? Or does the risk stay the same? And if they’ve gone all this time without isolating much or wearing masks, is it possible they’ve caught it already and may be immune?

Photo by Pixabay on

I know there are no answers to these questions. Even if there are possible answers, there are too many variables for anything definitive. I am left frustrated and uncertain.

We will probably wait a few more months. We’ll see what’s happening in May or June. I will see my daughter who has been vaccinated. But will we go to her house (the one they just bought and are so excited about)? I know they are comfortable with the risks they take with each other and other family members. They are only being cautious with us because we wanted to follow all the guidelines. It’s up to us – me and my husband. How much risk are we comfortable with?

5 thoughts on “Pandemic Conundrums”

  1. Sounds like you’re being mindful and not capricious, careful to consider others as well as yourself. Whatever you do, do it with your heart and love and enjoy it as much as possible.

  2. I know it’s hard but we’re almost to the finish line if your family is getting vaccinated. Keep up the safety and see you all on the other side!

  3. Marlene

    Good questions. Unfortunately, there are no answers, only assumptions and hopes. I’m older than you and hate to see precious days lost to isolation. My wife and I are fortunate to see our three daughters often since they live in central California and come, one at a time, to help out as my wife recovers from cancer treatment. They wear masks here and practice distancing. Beyond that, we’ll grit our teeth and continue current practices with the hope that by mid-summer, all kin will be vaccinated, and it will be safer to visit and socialize.

    This too shall pass.

    By the way, we writers are fortunate to have this rewarding pastime to at least partially fill our days and give us goals. I have just finished helping my wife put up her Letters From Durham’s Farm and am beginning a new novel, having put up my latest, On the Sunset Rim, last fall. Keep on writing!


    Harlan Hague, Ph.D.


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