Regular readers will know that one of the points I keep revisiting about COVID-19 vaccination is that we (or ‘we’) are acting as if ninety percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, when, in fact, we’re not even close to that (in some states, the low percentages of vaccination are horrifying).
I bring this up because, even where I live in D.C., I figure at most 85%* of the people in my building are partially or fully vaccinated: on the one hand, Ward 2 is pretty high based on the incomplete vaccination data D.C. has, on the other, many tenants are under 40, and the under-40 set in D.C. just isn’t getting vaccinated at the same frequency as older groups.
Eight five percent sounds good, but the flip side of that is that fifteen percent are not vaccinated–and aren’t ‘in flight’ to become vaccinated either. Not to humblebrag, but no one in my building can plead economic hardship–and with 24 hours of preparation one can get any vaccine one likes with only a five to fifteen minute walk (there are available slots for the Pfizer vaccine all day tomorrow at the CVS down the block–literally 100 yards away). Yet fifteen percent likely haven’t been vaccinated.
I’m pretty sure I ran into some this weekend. I wear a mask in the building, because it’s not hard to wear one for a minute in an air conditioned building and often I have to wear one at my destination, so why not wear one in the building (besides, it’s not a fucking testicle clamp, it’s a mask. Grow some goddamn fangs here). Anyway, this large party of 20-somethings was completely unmasked, and, based on their body language, I’m pretty sure some of them should have been. I really don’t care about that. It’s a dickhead move, but I’m fully vaccinated and it’s a brief exposure, so I’m not really worried about myself (thankfully).
But it got me thinking (always a dangerous thing!). Do I really want to go out to an indoor restaurant with an elderly relative? I don’t want to be an asymptomatic carrier either. What worries me isn’t so much the lack of vaccination, but the lying, the active and willful disregard for others. It obviously wouldn’t be the first time I ever ate at a restaurant with assholes at the next table over, but the disregard for others safety means they’re more likely to have been exposed–I doubt they’re taking adequate precautions.
Anyway, this is a long-winded way to say that I wonder–I’m definitely uncertain about this–if ruling ‘vaccine passports’, at least voluntary ones, out of hand was a bad idea. I would feel safer–and I would feel far less concerned about some friends and family–if I had some guarantee, even an imperfect one (i.e., there will be cheaters), that people were vaccinated (and if not, then they have to act appropriately). I realize there are a ton of privacy issues (and questions about who would administer and verify this, etc.), but I would appreciate the safety a very strict policy provides, especially in certain contexts (and indoor dining is one of those contexts).
Again, it’s the active malevolence and willful lying that I am supposed to work around, that for which I pay a penalty which really bugs me. Some people need to be forcibly shoved off their bullshit. Hard.
I realize there are serious, perhaps insurmountable, implementation and privacy issues–vaccine verification is probably a bad idea. But we don’t live in a country where most people are vaccinated against COVID-19, even if we want to pretend otherwise. And, at some point, The Discourse will have to get serious about the ethics (or lack thereof) of bad behavior during a time of COVID (ranging from refusal to wear masks to not getting vaccinated). Yes, there are serious structural issues, but too many people just aren’t willing to do the bare ethical minimum–and you don’t have to be a full-bore social conservative to understand that we do require some individual responsibility for all this to work.
*In D.C., as of Monday, 69.7% of those eighteen and older have been partially or fully vaccinated. Like I wrote, 85% is a fairly optimistic guess.