In a sign of the times, a good and sensible friend called me with an invitation for her birthday party. After the small talk about age being a number, she asked if I was vaccinated, adding that she was only inviting a few friends and that too only those who were green shield compatible – vaccinated or recovered with a 14-day clear gap.
Far from being offended, I was relieved. Going forward, we are going to adopt long-term survival strategies to circumvent the presence of this virulent virus. Although many people faff about elitist vaccine policies, it does not hold true for Bahrain which adopted a universal vaccine access strategy long before other, more advanced countries had come around to implementing it.
Now, with Eid holidays around the corner, the government has issued guidelines that allow vaccinated or recovered persons to enjoy a range of longed-for ‘normal’ pleasures such as gymming, movies and indoor dining.
However, in the middle of these efforts to safeguard the community and your own health and loved ones, we do come across bizarre behaviour.
One person at a site meeting hastily concluded discussions saying that he had to return home in half an hour. When asked why that would take precedence over an important official meeting, he blithely said he was supposed to be in self-isolation because he had met a person who subsequently tested positive and had to post a photo of himself in his room to the government app tracking him.
You should have seen the room emptying out at lightning speed!
Like people who wear T-shirts printed with seat belts across their chests to fool traffic cameras, instead of actually wearing one or families of five or six who insist on boarding an elevator clearly marked for four because they count themselves ‘as one unit’, some of us seem to spend a lot of time finding ways to circumvent rules designed for our safety.
Others are misled by New Age misinformation that preaches an active distrust of vaccination and walk around unvaccinated and as potential super-spreaders. They forget that with new variants popping up every week, which behave like new viruses, vaccination is the only partially secure health advantage – as of now.
Let us remember that we are nowhere near achieving critical mass in vaccinating either. As of February 2021, 75 per cent of all shots had been administered in just 10 countries while 130 hadn’t primed a single syringe. And India, touted as the ‘pharmacy of the world’ for its ability to manufacture vaccines, rapidly lost the first-mover advantage in the face of a devastating second wave by a particularly lethal variant.
Experts are repeating that vaccination is only a speed bump. It does not guarantee immunity but may reduce the intensity and mortality associated with Covid-19. Well, we can’t be choosers at this stage and with two Eid festivals coming up in as many months, we must be vigilant and not let ennui set in.
Please. Be a firewall. If you are careful and follow protocol even after vaccination, you can save lives. Every life saved is part of a widening circle of resistance against the pandemic.
Resilience demands resistance – and that can only come from vigilance.