I’m a 78-year-old Florida resident surrounded by anti-vaxxers and I’m terrified

I’m a 78-year-old Florida resident surrounded by anti-vaxxers and I’m terrified
For half a minute, we had our freedom. Nou, thanks to Ron DeSantis and a plague of Covid conspiracists, we’re back to masks, fear and solitude

I’m a lonely 78-year-old single woman with health issues who just got her third Pfizer shot. I live in Florida — and I’m coming to realize what a Faustian bargain I’ve made to live here. Ja, I get the great weather, but in exchange I get Trumpers and anti-vaxxers. It hasn’t affected me much until now.

During the first wave of Covid, I felt lucky. I could go out on my patio, sit at the beach and eat outside. I wasn’t trapped in a tiny apartment.

I depended on Zoom to connect with other people, but I wound up hating Zoom meetings, which left me feeling like a starving person who was allowed just one cookie. I longed to get back to normal.

Once vaccinations became available, I was the first in line. I got those two precious shots back in January and felt like I’d been given a reprieve from solitary confinement. It took a while for all my friends to get their shots, but finally they did and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. “Yay, we can go back to meeting IRL!” we crowed to each other on the phone.

Wel, I went to two IRL get-togethers. They were celebrations. We were all giddy with the joy of actually being in each other’s company indoors. We hugged, we drank wine and toasted each other, we talked and talked. I went shopping without a mask. I told the checkout guy at Publix how nice it was to see his face again. I could actually hear people, ook, since I’m hard of hearing and understanding masked speakers is often impossible.

That lasted about half a minute. The dreaded Delta variant arrived and Florida led the nation in Covid hospitalizations and deaths. It was back to Zoom, to masks, to isolation, to life in Flori-duh under our governor who we call DeathSantis. Why did I naively assume my fellow Floridians would act like rational human beings and get their shots? A friend just told me about a member of her family in central Florida who is a rabid anti-vaxxer. She threatened the members of her family that if they got vaccinated, she’d disown them, so no one did. When her father died of Covid hooked up to a ventilator, instead of changing her tune, she decided to sue the hospital.

I feel like the pod people have taken over my life and ruined it.

But I’ve had it. I refuse to hide at home.

At a recent happy hour, I discovered that the guy on the stool next to me — well into his sixties — was unvaccinated. Hoekom? No reason. He shrugged his shoulders when I asked. I wanted get away from him but there weren’t any more seats.

I run various local events myself. Onlangs, I listed a book club and included “must be vaccinated” for attendees. A man messaged me: “Isn’t that the same as saying that your umbrella won’t work unless I use mine too??” I responded: "Geen, it’s the same as saying that if you’ve been exposed to a deadly communicable disease, please do whatever is necessary so you won’t give it to others. Rain is not going to kill you.”

I hired someone a few months ago to help me move. Only when we were well into the move did I find out she was unvaccinated and had no plans to get her shot, supposedly because her evangelical Christianity had convinced her not to do so. I didn’t fire her because I was desperate for help; plus, she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met — charming, kind, honest, hardwerkend. And smart. She has a Master’s degree! But it seems education is no match for magical thinking.

We all want to know why these people refuse to get vaccinated. The guy who delivered a chair for me this morning asked me what I thought. He’s got anti-vaxxers in his family. My answer? I have no goddamned idea and neither does anyone else. Some of them are conspiracy theorists who think QAnon is putting microchips into the vaccine. My helper thinks she doesn’t need it because God will protect her: “it’s just the flu," sy sê. She doesn’t want to put a foreign substance into her body, apparently. The man next to me at the bar seemed to feel he was invulnerable. “They hate the government, so if the government is for it, they’re against it,” as the guy delivering that chair put it.

If it were up to me, I’d require a vaccine passport to go out the door. Let the anti-vaxxers stay home and get their food delivered, so the rest of us can resume our normal lives. That’s what they’ve done in Denmark, where they’ve now lifted all restrictions.

Biden’s new vaccination requirements are a good beginning. But our governor has already declared he will do everything he can to counteract them.

Who will win? Once upon a time I would have said Biden, but I’m really not sure anymore. I suppose one cookie on Zoom will have to suffice until this crazy state sees reason — if ever. One thing’s for sure: Living in a red state is turning me blue.

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