It is a fresh new year, and first on our list of “things-we-really-can’t-wait-to-do” is to put the Coronavirus nightmare behind us. That, of course, is pure fantasy. Bad news first: The CDC has identified several new variants of the virus that seem to be spreading faster and may lead to more cases of COVID-19. The good news? There are several drug manufacturers with FDA-approved vaccines shipping potentially life-saving doses right this minute! While we wait to receive our first dose—and then wait another 21 or 28 days for our booster injection to be fully vaccinated—it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves. Businesses, schools, and local governments are at high risk of another lockdown. Many hospitals are facing catastrophic patient levels, and almost 250,000 new cases are reported in the United States each day. This isn’t over yet. So, here’s what we’re doing to stay safe, positive and healthy while we wait.
As we steel ourselves against the harsh reality of the bleak numbers reported from the CDC, we’re going to remain vigilant. We. Can. Do. This. We’ve done hard things before, and we can continue to do what it takes to stay safe. After all, our communities have rallied incredibly well. Nearly every business has an online, curbside or delivery option available. Masks are much easier to find than they were this time last year. And we will continue to practice safe, social distancing. It’s a patience game now more than ever.
Pandemic fatigue is real. But being immunocompromised is more real.
Offering a gentle (or not-so-gentle) reminder to friends and family of this fact is not a bad idea. We’re still collectively waging war against an invisible foe, and now is not the time to give up the battle, especially if we have underlying conditions that make us more vulnerable to the virus. In order to ensure that our bases are covered, we’re taking a three-part approach to communication. Here’s what we can do:
- With work: We can meet with human resources or have a chat with our boss to ensure that company protocols will keep us safe. If we need to request special permission to continue working in a remote capacity, we’ll ask if this is an option.
- With family: We often hesitate to draw unwanted attention to our personal needs, but now is a good time to take a deep breath and make an exception. A family email or personal message to loved ones with a reminder that, even though it may feel like the pandemic is ending, it is still very much happening. Those around us may not have to deal with the daily reminder that exposure to the virus could be far more detrimental to someone going through treatment for cancer with a weakened immune system, but we’re still avoiding gatherings at this time.
- With doctor(s): A call or telehealth visit with our MD solely to discuss our 2021 health plans as they pertain to vaccination is worth its own meeting. Can we be vaccinated? Which tier or phase do we fall under? Are we high risk? Do we need to take any special precautions with our current medications and treatment? Knowledge is power, and they will advise us to the best of their abilities.
Make a Plan
Information overload about treatments, options, and side-effects is something many of us are used to, but it never gets easier. That’s why making a simple plan can help us to remain positive and feel better about our options. For information on how and when we can get vaccinated, the CDC has set up this helpful resource page.
As cases rise and fall, and as the year progresses, we may notice people returning to pre-COVID behaviors sooner than recommended. Setting boundaries in our personal social circles and households is more important than ever. What may feel right to some may not to others, so it’s important we suspend judgement, offer compassion to each other and empower ourselves to only do what feels integral and safe.
Ask for Support
Our best chance to remain vigilant, stay healthy and overcome pandemic-fatigue is to draw upon the support of our family and friends. Without shame or blame, simply reminding our loved ones that we need their support, and appreciate it greatly, we can make it through this time.
Finally, as we wait for the vaccine to protect us and the people we love, we offer a gentle reminder: Now, more than ever, be kind. Last year was an impossible year. We are all doing the best we can to muddle through the chaos and change. We have suffered greatly, and we all need the warmth and love of each other to keep us strong. #inittogether
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” - Dalai Lama