COVID Mask

We are all eager for life to return to normal.

Life during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy. We’ve lost jobs, businesses, our freedom to travel, and a lot more. I’ve been cooped up in my house for over a year now and I’m itching to get back to eating out, traveling and visiting loved ones, and all the rest of it before COVID-19 hit. But we can’t do that just yet.

This virus is no joke. Yes, a lot of people will contract it and have few to no symptoms. But a lot of people do, and this virus is deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500,000 people have died of COVID in the U.S. so far.

But we’re close. The first people to get vaccinated got their first dose at the end of last year. Since then we’ve vaccinated millions of people in the U.S. We’ve added another supplier, Johnson & Johnson, and we’ve been averaging two million doses per day across the U.S.

The first group to get their vaccine have been health care workers. They need it since they’re around people with COVID-19 a lot, and the more exposure they have to it the more likely they are to get it. Then it was educators, child care workers and people 65 or older. We have already opened up the vaccine to the next group of people, those who are 45 or older and have underlying medical conditions. Once we have gone through all of the groups of vulnerable people and essential workers, the vaccine will become available to the general public.

Most of the vaccines will require two doses to be effective. You should absolutely ensure that you get the second dose, even though there’s a good chance you’ll feel crummy for a day or two afterwards. If you have concerns about getting the vaccine, please consult with your doctor about them. If you start poking around the web to see if the vaccine is safe, you’ll come across a lot of claims that are not backed by scientific data. Your doctor is a medical professional and will be able to talk to you regarding any concerns you might have about getting the vaccine.

The latest data indicates that everyone who wants the vaccine should be eligible to get one by the end of May. This is sooner than anticipated, and the accelerated schedule can be attributed to the addition of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as well as ramped up production among all vaccine makers. We’re only a few months away, so please keep doing the things you’ve been doing. Social distancing, restricting travel, wearing a mask when you do go out, and so on. All these things help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

Things won’t go completely back to normal after everyone is vaccinated. Many businesses have closed forever because of it. Others have given up office space because they’ve found that many of their workers can be productive working from home.

But there are also variants of the COVID-19 virus around the world. We have at least three in the U.S. right now. These variants will be two to eight times more resistant to the COVID vaccine we’re all getting right now. If you have underlying medical conditions that make you vulnerable to COVID, you may want to keep wearing a mask when you go out. And if you see people wearing a mask when they’re out, please don’t give them any flack for it. They’re trying to keep themselves and everyone else safe.

You can go to vaccineconnector.mn.gov to sign up and get notified as to when you’ll be available to get a vaccine.

Jason Ogaard is a software engineer who formerly lived in Hutchinson. He welcomes your technology questions, and he’ll answer them in this place. Please send your questions to technobabble@hutchinsonleader.com.