Not the time for complacency

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak - The Philippine Star

The good news? There is not just one potential vaccine, but several potential COVID-19 vaccines being made available, with some already being administered in countries abroad. This has uplifted the general mood of the holidays and has given people something to look forward to and hope for. We are nowhere near out of the woods yet and have to remind ourselves that we’re still right in the thick of things.

I think that’s a general attitude when bad things take a turn for the better. It’s natural to want to move forward towards the better at light speed. However, this is when most people become complacent and it’s always near the finish line that something bad happens, and just when the end is in sight.

I believe we are at the proverbial last bend right now. This entire year has felt like one long painful, agonizing race and every time we turn the corner, hoping to see the finish line, we encounter another endless race road ahead. So many times we fall, scrape our knees, hit our heads, but we do our best to keep going. Obviously, this is a metaphor for the struggles everyone has faced this year. But instead of skinned knees and mild concussions, it was the loss of livelihood, business closures, and for some, death or the loss of a loved one.

It’s simply impossible to fully explain what has happened this year. Looking back on the past 10 months, I am no closer to understanding it than I was back then. The speed and scale at which the coronavirus attacked every corner of the world is unprecedented in our lifetime. Nobody knew what to do or how to properly respond.

As the weeks and months rolled on, we made adjustments as the human race has done time and time again. We wore masks, stayed home, pivoted the ways we worked, and tried to somehow move on. For some people, this was easier than others, the same way it was for some businesses. The Philippines was not ready to move online on this level at this time. It’s like we crammed years and years of digital growth in just a few months and crossed our fingers.

In either case, it’s December now and 2020 is almost over. I think many of us are hoping that 2021 will be different, but it’s looking like more of the same for the first quarter at the very least. While the vaccines are starting to roll out in certain parts of the world, they remain far from our shores at the moment and will probably only realistically be available around March or so next year.

Even then we will still have to all exercise discernment over which vaccines to take and when. I fully support science and the opinions of the world’s brightest scientific minds, but I believe in educating ourselves as well. There is research available online and we have to sift through everything and find sources that we trust. Most of the vaccine companies offer their clinical data, as well as the results of their trials for public viewing. Healthcare organizations like the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and the Food and Drug Administration have their own recommendations. The Mayo Clinic is, at the moment, doing a series online sharing facts and debunking myths.

All of this information is available to help us make the right choice when the vaccines finally become available on our shores. It’s up to us to read it, understand it, and ask questions when we need to, and not to be afraid to wait for the vaccine you believe is right for you and your loved ones to arrive. Just because other vaccines come in first doesn’t mean that those are the ones we will all need to take.

But until then we have to remain vigilant. As the holidays approach and we feel bolstered by the good news of a potential vaccine, it’s easy to let our guard down a little bit and enjoy ourselves. After all, it’s been an unbelievably rough year. But it is this complacency that could lead to bigger problems and we have to avoid that at all costs.

We all want to be able to spend time with our loved ones this holiday season, but we also have to realize that we are still in the thick of the pandemic and changing the way we do things can lead to huge surges and full hospitals come January. It’s happening in the US now. Post-Thanksgiving and so many more Americans are getting ill and dying every day. We don’t want the same thing to happen here. We just need to hold on a little longer. Stay home as much as possible, celebrate in smaller ways, wear masks, social distance, and do our part. We’ll reap the rewards for our discipline in the months ahead.



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