BY LUKE HARRIS STAFF WRITER
On a bright Thursday morning, I walked into CVS Pharmacy ready to get my first dose of the Moderna vaccine. It was a day that I had been anticipating ever since the vaccine efficacy numbers were released back in late 2020.
After my temperature scan, I was handed my card and told to proceed to the back only to be greeted by a very long line. We all have those moments where our irrational, emotional brain takes over. This was one of those moments for me.
I became agitated and rapidly tapped my toes awaiting my shot, as if I was especially entitled to a vaccine. It wasn’t until I got to the front of the line that I was welcomed by one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met.
I never got his name, but he told me all about how excited he was to see the long line at CVS this morning. He had been volunteering at this vaccination clinic and was ecstatic to see how many people were ready to get vaccinated. When it was my turn, he kindly pointed me to my seat where I began to realize the very thing that frustrated me was actually a great sign of hope.
Over 100 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with roughly 70 million being fully vaccinated. This is bolstering states, businesses and average citizens into a state of wondrous optimism that we haven’t felt in a long, long time.
Everyone is tired of COVID-19 and the vaccine is both a practical and symbolic indicator that we will soon move beyond it. That’s why so many are eager to get in line for their shots, so that they are one step closer to the freedoms they used to have. It’s only natural to get a little impatient for your shot. But it’s not productive to let impatience control the situation.
A big source of this impatience is frustration with those who don’t want to be vaccinated. Immunity only works when lots of people have it. That’s why it’s so important that we vaccinate the vast majority of the population — so we can return to a world where safety restrictions don’t hold back our lives.
We can’t get there if one in four Americans don’t want the vaccine. Thus, the unstoppable force meets the immovable object.
But leading with your impatience will never persuade anyone. Instead, we need to understand where vaccine hesitancy comes from to meet people halfway.
Vaccine hesitancy is actually quite understandable. Some citizens have less experience with good doctors, and are therefore fairly skeptical of good medicine.
Let’s not forget that these vaccines, while safe, were made in record time which may only add to the skepticism. We need to meet this skepticism where it is, not where we want it to be.
We often associate any hesitancy about vaccines with anti-vaccination movements. Let’s be clear: There is a giant difference between vaccine-hesitant people and anti-vaccine people.
Anti-vaccination groups are vocal opponents of vaccines that organize, protest and at times harass health workers. I’ve never met someone who is skeptical of the vaccine that is ready to protest against me for getting the shot. The two groups are very different.
As obvious as this may seem to some, it still creates frustration with those who are vaccine hesitant. Sometimes, this frustration boils over into unproductive shaming tactics. Whether someone is yelling on Twitter about “covidiots” or talking down to someone else because they’re concerned about side effects, it’s all just various forms of shaming.
Being patient with someone and giving them the information they need to discover a clearer picture on the matter will help everyone. Being rude to someone and treating them like an uninformed jerk will only push them further away from vaccinations.
Persuasion is an art that requires heart. Letting your impatience manifest into frustration is only going to extend the pandemic. That volunteer at CVS taught me a lot, but above all else he reminded me how much faster patience works than shame.
My hope is that I will drive back to CVS for my second dose and see a line twice as long as the one I witnessed before. A line full of patient people ready to build immunity to a horrible virus. A line full of patient people ready to hug family members again. A line full of patient people ready to collectively end this pandemic.
That’s a moment I’m more than willing to wait for.