Last week, my one and only baby turned 16. Watching your child turn into an adult is heartbreaking anyway, but helping her navigate this hellacious pandemic as a teenager is all the more frustrating because it’s robbed her of so many experiences during her last years of being a kid.
But as always, the youth will lead the way. While so many of my own generation and older were, and still are, belligerent about mask wearing and distancing and believing science, I’ve watched Annie and her peers at school wear a mask all day long in order to be together and have some semblance of normal. They put on a musical production without ever touching one another, they’ve hung out on driveways in the open air and delivered cookies to their friends in quarantine. They take the ACT on an early Saturday morning fully masked and shrug like it’s no big deal. Their adaptability, creativity and grasp of CDC protocols has been impressive.
So on this milestone birthday, Annie got the gift every teenager wants: a “Sweet Sixteen Vaccine.” She hates shots, but having contracted Covid late last year, which landed some friends and family in the dreaded quarantine zone, she knows first-hand how important it is to utilize every tool available to stop the virus from spreading unchecked.
Friends, if you are not vaccinated yet — what are you waiting for? Thanks to vaccines, we have eradicated Polio almost entirely across the globe except in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox — the suffering alleviated by widespread vaccination has changed the world so much that societally we don’t even remember the damage those awful diseases inflicted.
The opportunities to get a safe and very effective COVID-19 vaccine are plentiful here. Just in Muskogee alone, multiple pharmacies both local and national have ready supply. The Muskogee Health Department has appointments and walk-ins every Thursday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center along with other vaccination events (call 918-683-0321 for details), and the Cherokee Nation is vaccinating anyone 16 and older regardless of where they live right here in Muskogee at Three Rivers Health Center every weekday (call 539-234-4099 to schedule an appointment).
The goal is to reach herd immunity, and we need 70% of us roll up our sleeves and take one (or two) to the arm for that to happen. Right now, less than 30% of Oklahomans have made that commitment, yet 100% of us want to return to pre-pandemic life.
If you have prayed for this pandemic to end like I have, I tell you the truth— the Lord sent us masks, soap, social distancing and now he has sent us these vaccines. Find a friend or two this week and encourage them to help us get to 70%. If you have a platform of influence, say something, be an example and assist those who need help navigating the details. And for real, accurate information about all things COVID and vaccines log onto www.vaccinate.oklahoma.gov.
All the cool kids are doing it.
Holly Rosser Miller has lived and worked in Muskogee for 20 years.