“I got a fever,” a relative told me on a phone call the day as I was getting ready to receive my first COVID-19 vaccine. I was devastated... I also sensed the fear in the voice.
I don’t believe there is anyone who doesn’t know an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Among my family and friends, people I admire and respect, people whom I love have gotten sick. There has been no distinction of age or race: older adults and my son’s teenage friends who are just starting their journey in life have tested positive. Now, someone who is in my immediate family faces this disease, and it has attacked this person with utter cruelty.
I have consumed so much news about COVID-19 during the last year. Much of it was painful, and other news has amazed me because of the quality and originality. Sometimes, I have had to digest the news slowly to better understand the science behind it.
I admit that a few news reports have been funny, such as the one that recounted the creators of a piñata in the shape of a coronavirus, believing that these piñatas were fulfilling a therapeutic mission. Because who has not thought about hitting this virus as hard as possible with a pole?
One of those stories that reached deep was of a woman who refused to see her family member as just another number among the millions who have died in this global pandemic.
A few months ago, one of my best friends who lives in another state recorded his condition in voice notes on WhatsApp -when he could speak- because he considered it part of my duty as a journalist to narrate the fierceness of this sickness.
I am not going to lie. My faith wavered when the virus reached my family in Latin America. But in the midst of tragedy there are always good things. The true friends were virtually present. Many people of different religions prayed for my relative’s health, and a few weeks later when this person started complaining about hospital food, we knew that everything was going to be okay, because in my home we are all good eaters.
A few months ago, someone in a group of parents asked about the vaccine, because he was looking for arguments to support his position of not getting it. I didn’t say anything, but I need to confess that my first thought was: “What an ignorant person!” Immediately afterward I remembered what Pope Francis said one day: “Who am I to judge others?”
I have taken the COVID-19 test three times: Not a pleasant experience. I always received negative results.
All this time, I have defended science. But when it was my turn to get the vaccine, things were different. Then, I thought, “They are putting something inside my body. Dr. Fauci, you better be right about this.” I thought to myself, “I’m sure that a little headache and a sore arm for three days is better than contracting the virus.”
It is sad to see the gap and reasons among Latinex getting the vaccine in the United States.
I remember the first person I had to interact with who had gotten COVID-19. I recall the stigma he was treated with in the early days of the pandemic.
I also remember when it all started and we saw it from afar, as something that happened over there. Well, we didn’t care much, but it flooded the entire planet and has put us to the test as human beings. It seems like one of the ways to keep this virus away is not only to think about ourselves and our well-being but also to think of others too. We wear a mask for us and for the other person, protecting ourselves and those who are close to us, whether they are related or not.