In a phone conversation with my brother yesterday, I spoke of my relief at receiving my first shot of COVID vaccine and how I was eager to restart my out-of-house recreational activities. I then asked if he’d received or scheduled his vaccinations.
I didn’t like his response.
“People keep telling me I should get my shot,” he told me, his voice ominous with hesitation. But no, he hadn’t looked into it.
He then asked me if I knew anyone who had died or suffered from a bad case of COVID. An odd way to question the severity of an illness. I’ve heard malaria’s a pretty bad disease, but I don’t know anybody who’s actually had it. Must be fake news!
But I do actually know people who’ve had COVID. A high school friend was hospitalized a few days. A former co-worker, after months of dismissive Facebook posts about government lockdowns and mask mandates, nearly died from COVID last fall; he now harangues his Facebook friends about ignoring the virus. A member of our temple also suffered from the virus.
These examples didn’t have much effect on my brother. “I heard some healthcare workers are choosing not to get the vaccine,” he then said. And if they also jumped off the Empire State Building… “And some businesses are paying their employees to get shots.”
“If we had everybody in the family give you five bucks, would that motivate you?” I asked. I could soon tell he was no longer interested in talking about the issue, so I left him with the hope that if he just got his shot then he could tell me, as well as everyone else nagging him about vaccinations, to shut the hell up.
Later that evening I talked to my sister, who had seen our brother earlier that day. A physical therapist who works with many elderly patients, she received her vaccinations as soon as they were available. She’s even more dismayed than I am about our brother’s reluctance. “He has respiratory issues,” she reminded me; he’s suffered with asthma for as long as I remember. “And he’s over 60. If he gets COVID, it could kill him.”
We agreed that travel restrictions, such as not being able to purchase an airline ticket if he doesn’t have a vaccination card, will probably what finally gets him to get his shots. “The world’s never going to be what it used to be,” he’d told me earlier that day, a statement I agreed with completely. My brother’s stubborn and is overly selective with his facts, but he doesn’t a zealot of denial. His siblings will keep reminding him that this new world requires minor inconveniences until he finally gets his shots.