You only get one chance to make a first impression.
So I was told several years ago when I was preparing for an interview. Whether my presentation went smoothly or awry, whether or not I dressed appropriately or responded with accurate or misleading information, good or bad, it would most likely be one specific item or behavior that would be remembered with my name.
The same goes with our first impression of COVID when it entered our lives over two years ago.
If you remember, it was originally believed that only the older adult was at risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus. That population was at risk because they were the ones believed to be most affected with underlying conditions that would make them vulnerable to the infection.
Young adults and children were initially believed to be exempt from contracting COVID.
My, how times have changed…
Within a few months we learned that COVID spared no age group. Not only the “unaffected” young adult, but children too contracted the virus, and because of the delay or lack of COVID symptoms, often perpetuated COVID spread.
We learned that whether or not you were an older adult, you were at greater risk if you had underlying conditions, such as diabetes, heart or respiratory conditions or were immunocompromised, and that obesity was a contributing factor.
Unfortunately, misinformation and misunderstandings about how potentially deadly and extremely contagious the original and subsequent COVID variants are, continue to help the virus thrive.
It was a year ago in August that a family member, suspicious of the vaccine, contracted COVID. This happened just a day or two before the FDA announced the vaccine was safe, which I had thought would be the turning point for him to take the vaccine. Lucky for him he was able to get the monoclonal antibody infusion that lessened his symptoms.
Fast forward almost one year later to that day.
Through the family grapevine I was informed that the son of the previously infected family member contracted COVID. He believed he had picked it up at the gym. Like his father, he, too was anti-vax, but felt he didn’t need to be careful because he believed “only old people who have other health problems get COVID.”
One and a half years after COVID turned our lives around, I was hearing misinformation that I
thought had long been put to rest. Yet here was a 30 year old intelligent but “selective in his
information sources” guy still believing that first impression.
As a member of a very active COVID prevention education and awareness committee it was a rude awakening to find that a belief generated in the early days of COVID was still being perpetuated. How anyone could have such a restricted view of COVID when hundreds of thousands of all ages and backgrounds have died made me question his sources. Perhaps in believing his age was a COVID-safe zone he allowed himself the “normal” life so many of us crave. And in doing so, ignorance of the facts is not always bliss.
Because wait, there’s more….
The young man also shared that you can only get COVID once — that you are over 99% likely to never get infected by COVID again because the antibodies stay with you.
His father blew holes in that theory when, within a week of the son’s infection, Dad contracted COVID for a second time, this time from his son.
Yet both father and son remain unwilling to get the vaccine.
For many, social media has become the primary source for information on current events. Social media tells us what we want to hear, often leading to links that reinforce specific issues. It is important that information — especially life-saving information such as the facts about COVID —be obtained from trusted sources.
For those of you reading this article, consider this information generated from lessons learned.
We know that COVID is much worse than the flu. Whether or not you ever had the flu or had the flu shot doesn’t make you immune to COVID. Your best defense is to get the COVID vaccines and boosters.
Living in rural areas, having few neighbors or visitors, or “not going anywhere” does not prevent you from contracting COVID. Just running the errands of everyday life can expose you to the virus.
Is it COVID? Sinus? Allergies? The flu? A cold?
All these conditions share symptoms. Take a test. If you test positive, contact your healthcare
Going out around vulnerable people or people you don’t know? Wear a mask.
You can have COVID and not have symptoms – it is estimated half the people infected by COVID don’t know they have it.
Vax. Test. Mask when appropriate. Be safe.
Chris Smith of Muncy was a prevention education/highway safety specialist for over 35 years and is a member of Let’s End COVID!