I look at this picture of me right after my vaccine and I remember the emotions flooding my thoughts. I was as elated as I was distraught. Elated to feel that very tiny pinch in my deltoid muscle. Decades of research led to this moment, when hope entered my body, giving my immune system the tools needed to protect me from a deadly virus. Grateful to the scientists who have devoted their careers to studying virology, epidemiology, and public health.
At the same time, I was equally distraught. You can see the pain in my eyes, that faraway look because I was feeling tremendous despair about the incalculable loss of life. Lives that were taken too soon. Families have been forever ripped apart by a virus that was mismanaged by a failed national response at the highest levels of our government.
The week I got my COVID vaccine is the same week we are grappling with what it means to have an insurrection at The Capitol. This is the same week the President of the United States has the second set of Articles of Impeachment submitted against him within a year. The week I got my COVID vaccine is the same week that White Supremacy militias are being identified and prosecuted for storming the United States Capitol with the intent of overturning a presidential election. The violence inflicted on members of Congress is unlike the fear we feel in schools when we are forced into planned or unplanned lockdowns.
The confluence of COVID, gun violence, insurrection, White Supremacy, racism, is swirling about in a tornado leaving destruction in its path. But we are all in the path of this storm and few of us have been unscathed. While I have received my first dose of Moderna, for which I am extremely grateful, another virus is raging across our country. It is the virus of hatred, xenophobia, and racism.
Vaccines cannot inoculate our country from the hatred for “the other” that is rearing its ugly head. I will continue to work every single day for social justice, health equity, and gun violence prevention. I know that I am not alone.