Facing Main

Selfish Pandemic

As the mom of two young children, I’m tired of them having such a restricted social bubble

By Maggie Doherty

I now have one child who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and, of course, up to date on all of his regular, non-demonized immunizations and annual flu shot. In my household, three out of four family members have received the shot. We wait for the 2-year-old to become eligible to receive the safe and effective COVID vaccine, but at this precarious moment in time, as a family, we feel relatively safe?

Ending that sentence with a question mark is intentional because another year of a heartbreaking pandemic where more than 800,000 Americans have died from COVID lies ahead of us. Families are grieving and millions are sick. I wonder what it will take before we collectively understand that there are so many ways – proven, scientifically tested and tested again – we could have made this virus so much less powerful, less deadly. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I was entirely selfish when I got my first shot last spring. I was doing everything in my power to hunt down a vaccine. I don’t want to get COVID. I don’t want to get sick. Isn’t it my own personal right and responsibility? 

As the mom of two young children, I’m tired of them having such a restricted social bubble. When my 6-year-old was eligible, I was on the phone with his pediatrician’s office while cross-checking appointments at the Flathead County Health Department and local pharmacies. Our bubble has expanded, and we do our best to mitigate risk during the experiences we treasure the most, like spending time with grandparents, or attending a play, even if we’re one of a handful of audience members wearing a mask. It’s an incredibly minor inconvenience for something as enjoyable as “Elf the Musical.” 

All the things that you hold dear and true requires you to do two things at once: be individualistic and altruistic. First, you take care of your own health, assessing your own risk levels and prioritizing what you will do to keep yourself well. The amazing thing about this pandemic is that we have the tools to combat the virus at our disposal: Wearing a mask in crowded public spaces, getting the vaccine, and using rapid and PCR tests if warranted. 

The wild thing about this selfish approach is that it will positively impact the community, making it possible for you to go to your favorite restaurant, keep children in school, and celebrate milestones like weddings or anniversaries with fanfare and, perhaps, hugs.  

It seems to me that the political shtick of personal responsibility forgets to include the second part of the argument: When you act responsibly, you’re not only pegged as a rugged individualist but also earn extra points because you’re also helping the community just like your ancestors did when they received the polio vaccine. We did these things because they benefited us, and amazingly, they made our entire communities stronger and healthier. 

Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.

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