By Cathy Jameson
I laughed when I heard someone talking on the radio last week. I stopped laughing when I realized it wasn’t a parody story I was hearing. I couldn't believe my ears when the announcer shared that an item, an empty vaccine vial and other “first” COVID19 vaccination paraphernalia, would be on display at the Smithsonian next year. I don’t see how. Typical protocol would have that used vial securely deposited in a sharps disposal container immediately after use.
But none of what we’ve encountered in the last year has followed typical protocol.
The timing couldn't be more appropriate, I guess. It was just one year ago that life came to an abrupt stop for many. Fearing that a novel virus would wipe out entire populations, many people scurried to their homes in March of 2020 promising to “do their part” to “flatten the curve” and “to keep hospitalizations down”. Schools immediately closed. Restaurants shuttered their doors. Businesses transformed their brick and mortar existence to an online-only presence. Within days of the massive shut down, restrictions across the nation and the world were in place.
A year later, restrictions continue to hamper life as we knew it.
Now, instead of focusing on flattening the curve, schools, businesses, and others are grappling with loss of progress, decreased customer base, and unforeseen changes in revenue and income. Juggling too much for too long has taken a toll on both the young and the old. In order to return to what was considered normal, promises from the top down were made to the public as the lockdown continued. Even though less costly and less risky treatments for the recoverable illness were starting to be reported, top officials invested most of their efforts on a COVID19 vaccine instead.
It, we were told then (and again last week) could end all of this.
While literally offering the people the world, for-profit pharmaceutical companies leaped at the chance to win multibillion-dollar contracts to create a coveted piece of freedom – liability-free COVID19 vaccines. And true to their word, not 1 but 3 pharmaceutical companies were successful in quickly manufactured what the government said the public needed. Completion of certain studies has not occurred, nor have any been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as of today. Regardless, these vaccines, which are classified as countermeasures as they fall under the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, are eagerly being administered to select individuals, mainly those considered high risk. While none of the 3 vaccines guarantee prevention of the coronavirus, just that “it may be effective”, assurances have been made by the current administration: all adults in the country will be eligible for a COVID19 vaccines by May 1st. Some are patiently waiting for that day.
Others won’t opt for a vaccine then or ever.
Vaccines are not the answer for many, especially for those who’ve experienced vaccine injury or who’ve witnessed an injury in a loved one. They won’t risk adverse reactions, including death, with a false sense of hope no matter who is asking them to “do their part”. But here we are just one year out being asked to get a fast-tracked COVID19 vaccine for the team while also watching a relic of it be grandly placed on a pedestal at one of the largest institutions in America. Documenting history isn't unusual. I would never expect an internationally recognized museum like the Smithsonian to showcase something like it though. Unless it’s at attempt to normalize how abnormal life was last year, and continues to be, because to COVID19.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.