Zoe Weil is a blogger for Psychology Today, and we share her blog posts here.
Like many people, I became unexpectedly emotional when I received the COVID vaccine.
I’d been chatting with the women next to me in the long line snaking toward the entrance to the arena where the vaccines were being administered, feeling nothing much except hope that the line would move quickly. Once I entered the arena, however, I became increasingly aware of the spectacular choreography of the process. Every step of the way there were volunteers to guide us, squirt a dollop of sanitizer in our hands, check us in, and lead us efficiently toward the nurses who would be giving us our shot, and then to the waiting area where we’d remain for 15 minutes to ensure we had no adverse reaction.
As I approached the nurse who would be administering my shot, tears filled my eyes, and by the time I reached the chair by her table, I was weeping. “I didn’t expect to cry,” I said, as she reassured me that she’d cried, too.
“This is historic,” she added, gently stroking my arm and handing me a box of tissues. Indeed.
When almost half of Europe’s population died of the plague in the 14th century, there were no vaccines to come to the rescue. Nor were there vaccines six centuries later to prevent the spread of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which infected one-third of the global population, killing 1-6% of all people on Earth in two years.
The nurse’s term “historic” was apt. The speed at which several highly effective, nearly side-effect-free vaccines have been developed is unprecedented.
I found myself reflecting upon this historic moment, realizing its potential to transform our thinking and our actions, and, through these, the world. Despite all that is still wrong in terms of injustice, environmental destruction, and persistent cruelty to animals across our everyday systems, there is much that is right. And what is right was on full display as I received the vaccine.