What’s Next?

My Facebook feed these days is loaded with excited Baby Boomers who are receiving their vaccinations. I got my first vaccination! I’m scheduled for my second in three weeks! I’m fully vaccinated and can finally travel again!

I’m with all of them. I’m fully vaccinated as of a week ago. Give me a few more days, and I’m ready to live a more normal life again. Oh, don’t worry. I will continue to wear my mask and socially distance. I will do so if for no other reason than to be a good example.

As far as I know, the CDC doesn’t know for sure yet whether those of us who are vaccinated can still carry the virus and give it to others like a bad birthday present. The media keeps telling us that the health organization will come out with its guidelines soon. I don’t know what soon means, but I hope that soon means really soon.

Here in the Valley of the Sun, where Winter Visitors abound, many people have decided they don’t need no stinking CDC guidelines. They have put their masks away until the next worldwide pandemic. As Bill and I were out and about this weekend, it became uncomfortably clear to me that there were many more people going maskless, and it didn’t make me very happy. Unlike them, I really do want to see what the CDC has to say about how to live my life safely — both for me and others.

Right now, the CDC apparently speculates that when fully vaccinated people go maskless, we can gather the COVID-19 virus in our nasal cavities and unintentionally give it to others who are not vaccinated. Well, yuck. Just yuck. Here’s the thing, however, though it feels like COVID has been a part of our life for at least 150 years, the truth is that it hasn’t even been a full year since we were all sent to our rooms to think about what we did. The CDC, scientists, doctors, sociologists, psychologists — the whole world — have been learning as we go. You will recall that at the beginning of this whole pandemic, we were told that masks were bad, bad, bad. We were told that, until they realized that masks were good, good, good. I remember hearing that we should all stop using Ibuprofen because the virus LOVES Advil. (Wait. That might have been the Tylenol folks spreading that information, and not the CDC.)

My point is that I believe everyone did — and is doing — the best we can. As information has become clear, we have changed our habits. After all was said and done, I think what we’ve been left with is basic: wear masks and wash your hands. I can do both.

But the unadulterated joy that we are feeling as more and more of us are receiving the vaccine is palpable. People are smiling. Businesses are little by little getting back to normal. I, too, will be happy if and when I no longer have to dig my mask out of my purse every time I enter a building. But I’m not sure I will ever put my mask away for good. I can see me always wearing a mask on an airplane, for example.

But maybe that’s because I have spent a lot of money on masks that match my clothes.

P.S. Shortly after writing this post yesterday, the CDC released their guidelines.

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