God willing, I’ll be among the first to take the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine when I get the opportunity.
The last time I turned down a vaccine was about 79 ago when I was a first grader in a Forrest County country school.
I don’t know what the vaccination was for; maybe typhoid fever or smallpox, I’m not sure. There weren’t nearly as many immunizations in 1941 as there are now, but some kind of “shots”, as we called them, were being administered in the public schools.
I had looked forward to turning 6 and starting school, until my across the road neighbor, two years my senior, began warning me that the shots were mandatory and painful.
He was the same boy who believed that there were stinging snakes in the area that could kill you on the spot and coachwhip snakes that could chase you down and whip you to death.
This kid would have believed all the conspiracy theories going around these days. There was no internet then, but he was tuned in to the word of mouth social media of his cousins and perhaps his parents who held to myths more than facts.
At any rate, he instilled in me a fear of shots, stinging snakes, coachwhips and consuming fish and milk at the same meal which he also said would kill you.
My parents knew better and would calm my fears when I echoed my friend’s warnings.
But I still dreaded those shots because of the expected pain. I still don’t enjoy seeing a needle headed my way.
Things went painless at school for a few weeks, and then one day some nurses, probably from the public health agency, showed up.
When it came my turn in line, I told them my mother was a registered nurse — which she was — and that she would take care of all my shots which she didn’t.
To put it mildly, Mama was miffed when she found out I successfully refused the vaccination and she had to take me to town to get the same thing I could have received at school free of charge and her time.
And, of course, it turned out the shot didn’t hurt nearly as badly as I had been warned, and those flu shots I now get every year don’t hurt much either.
Given the organized resistance to compulsory vaccinations over the past several years, along with conspiracy theories, distrust of government and corporations and the speed with which the COVID vaccines are being produced, I’m not surprised that a lot of people say they aren’t going to take the shots.
Mississippi reportedly has the lowest coronavirus vaccine acceptance rate in the nation at 43%, according to survey results published in September by The COVID States Project, a coalition of university researchers.
I wonder if that survey, if updated, wouldn’t show that more Mississippians are now ready for the vaccinations; especially since infection rates are soaring and all the ICU beds in the state are full.
Actually this state has a history of effectively accepting and using vaccines. A 2015 Washington Post article reported Mississippi had the highest rate of school-age vaccinations in the nation.
The secret of Mississippi’s success, the Post article said, stems from a strong public health program and — most importantly — a strict mandatory vaccination law for public school students that lacks the loopholes found in almost every other state.
Unlike public school requirements, mandating that everyone take the coronavirus vaccine when it’s available is impossible. Many will resist it for one reason or another.
But the more who take the shots the quicker we will get to that herd immunity.
As long as the medical experts say the vaccine is relatively safe, count me in.