When I was a kid, there were several friends of my parents who I called aunt or uncle. They were neither.
Aunt Minnie was a public health nurse at the Fulton County Health Department. She would often tell my mama when it was time to get a vaccine or would bring it to the house and give it to me right there.
I remember the day I saw her at my school. Kids were being given a sugar cube with a few drops of polio vaccine on it. It tasted pretty good. I remember other vaccines, like the one for smallpox. If you’re north of 50, you probably got vaccinated and have a scar to remind you of it.
Polio was bad stuff. Kids would end up in an iron lung to help them breathe.
I remember a boy in our school who had one leg that was considerably smaller than the other because of polio. Perhaps the best known polio victim was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who did the best he could to conceal his medical condition.
I’ve lost about a dozen friends, many of whom were in otherwise good health, to COVID-19. I’m not sure why, but there are a lot of folks who circulate falsehoods on the internet about the coronavirus and have called it everything from a political attack to a hoax. Folks who read this stuff and believe it. Why? Because it is on the internet.
If that were a valid reason, I would have made about a million bucks off of the widow of the former oil minister of some third-world country. All she wanted was my Social Security number. Yeah, right.
On one of the social media sites, I recently received a message from a friend. I would have been glad to have heard from him, but he’s been dead about five years. If you’re going to write to me in the afterlife, please include something like pictures of the pearly gates, streets of gold and while you’re at it, a photo of you and Jesus.
I’m not a doctor, nor do I pretend to have any great medical knowledge, but I know a few smart folks. My neighbor, Ed, is a retired medical doctor. I’ve called him doctor, and he has told me to call him Ed.
I am an admiral in the Navy of the great state of Nebraska. I am also a colonel in the commonwealth of Kentucky. I have insisted that Ed should call me Harris.
Like me, Ed is a grandpa. We compare notes on grandchildren. We also grouse a bit about how COVID-19 has limited our interaction to electronic communication.
Ed has received his vaccine. So have I. When the waiting period is over, I hope to say hello and chat with him in person.
I know lots of people in the medical profession who have gotten their vaccination. I have several conditions that would allow me to get vaccinated. I am a school bus driver and don’t want to give or receive the coronavirus.
Nobody is going to hold a gun to your head to make you get vaccinated, but you really should think about it. If I’m 50 or 60% less likely to get the virus, I’ll take those odds. If it’s more, even better.
Many people who don’t want to receive it claim it is because the government wants them to, or they don’t trust the government.
Ask your doctor and see what they say. Or better yet, ask the surviving spouse of a COVID-19 victim. They might change your point of view.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com.