“Are your vaccinations up to date?” This used to be a common question for anyone travelling anywhere more or less off the beaten path. My family doctor has often reviewed destinations with me, and openly discussed which jabs I needed to add to the mix to be sufficiently protected. The mix of shots always came in combination with protective measures: if you travel to an area where there’s mosquitos potentially carrying malaria you still want to bring some mosquito repellant spray and probably wear long sleeves too. It’s common sense.
I haven’t really said much so far about Covid vaccinations. But a few weeks ago a friend of a friend, someone I don’t even know, deemed it necessary to launch a personal attack against me on social media. The tirade came after I said something about still not being able to travel despite getting all my vaccinations against Covid. This otherwise meaningless comment crossed a line for me. I wasn’t as much bothered by the faceless online troll as I was about the fact we still don’t seem to get it: freedom is an important good but the minute my freedom impedes upon your freedom (or vice versa) we may have a problem. Can you still speak of true freedom when it comes at the expense of someone (or something?) else?
It’s time to ask the question
I recently postponed another trip for another year. Last year I said that by now, for sure for sure, everything would be back to normal. I’ve heard myself say that several times over the last 20 months or so. Twenty months and counting, because it still is not ok: we’re still not back to normal, and by now I doubt we will ever return to what we thought was normal. Technically we can travel, but I’m not particularly interested in getting my nose stabbed as part of the covid test Canada still requires upon return. I’m the kind of person who would obsess over that and let it ruin too much of the trip. So I’ll wait until my 4 requirements to travel again are all met.
Meanwhile, I got both my covid vaccinations the minute I became eligible. Over the years, I’ve had so many travel vaccinations that I didn’t care so much about adding another one to the mix. The covid vaccine itself may be new, the messenger technology that’s being used to deliver it is not. I’m not a medical professional and I’m not here to convince you either way, this was just my reasoning.
Extrapolating from that reasoning, I’m now facing a dilemma. I’m still not being able to travel, despite having done everything that was asked of me. Simultaneously, a small but vocal subset of the population seems to be so against this vaccine that their freedom of choice not to get vaccinated is starting to impede upon the freedom of a much larger group.Most people may wish to be done with social distancing, start travelling more freely again, and do whatever else is essential to them. Because let’s be honest: what is and what is not essential, varies from person to person. To some, travel is far more essential than others. I may have not had a death in my family (which would have been “essential travel”), but travel certainly has been an essential ingredient to keep my mental health in check. While the end of covid may hopefully be near, we’ll still have to deal with the mental health aftermath which impacted more people than ever before.
Vaccinations should always be a choice. But if someone doesn’t want to get vaccinated that choice should not impact people who opted otherwise. If you’re against vaccinations take your responsibility and get tested frequently whenever you’re exposed to anyone else. Those who don’t like the testing (like me) may be better off dealing with the vaccinations and getting their shots. That way we can all go back to a life worth living and enjoying our own personal freedom instead of somebody else’s. I did my part and I’m ready. But until we can come out of this isolation and actually travel again, don’t bother me with offering or even discussing a third booster shot. As long as I’m safe at home and can’t travel I don’t need it.
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