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The pandemic has amplified (among other things) basic misunderstandings.

My kids and I went to get our flu shots earlier this week. The outing was notable in that it was the first time ever that neither kid has protested or even been bothered by getting a shot. They both cooperated, and we were in and out in under five minutes.

I may be feeling some after-effects of the shot today. I’ve got a mild headache, I’m a bit stiff and sore, and my stomach is not quite right. It is nothing compared to the two days I lost to the Moderna vaccine back in May.

Over the summer, I was at a birthday party for one of my kids’ friends and I got to talking to another parent. “I’m not anti-vax,” he said. “I’m just the one who always gets the thing that the vaccine is supposed to prevent, so I guess I’m not going to get this one.” I nodded politely and moved along, not really wanting to get into it with another parent at a birthday party about how there is no way you can catch an illness from a vaccine, especially not from an mRNA vaccine.

I was struck as I lay in bed following both my first and second Moderna doses by how much of the symptoms we associate with run-of-the-mill sicknesses like the cold and flu are not caused by the virus, but by our body’s immune response to the virus. I felt like hell, but I wasn’t sick; my body just thought I was.

So many times during this pandemic, the scale of the infections and death has played havoc with our “common sense” assumptions. Pre-COVID, if someone didn’t really understand how catching and transmitting a cold works, it wasn’t such a big deal. Same with not grasping the idea of asymptomatic transmission. With COVID, though, it has been so rampant and the consequence so dire for a large enough number of people that these basic misunderstanding have been (and continue to be) a big problem.

On a side note, I got the bill today for the flu shots—ninety bucks per shot. I am fortunate in my circumstances that paying this bill is not a big deal. However, if we want more people to get these vaccines, this is way too expensive. They should be paid for collectively (as the COVID vaccine has been) in the interest of public health.

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