We are not short of answers; we are short of the right questions.Sukant Ratnakar
I am immunocompromised.
So are several members of my family. So are many members of my community.
I also have several major health problems (all caused by genetics and post-viral issues).
For me, and many of the people I know, COVID is a tangible threat. The kind of thing from which we might not recover, even if vaccinated.
Here in Australia, so far my threat of catching COVID has been minimal. But as we begin to open up that will change.
I’m not writing today to promote one side of the argument or the other. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate.
That’s your personal choice. And it’s a complex issue.
What I want to do today is to advocate for people like me.
It’s been proven that social distancing, wearing masks, practicing good hygiene (including using hand sanitiser) and being vaccinated reduces your risk of catching, and of transmitting COVID.
Also, not awesome, because there are people who do not want to wear masks, get vaccinated, practice social distancing or take other steps to minimise possible transmission risk. I respect your right to choose, and I respect the need for businesses to make money, and for people to be able to live their lives and to protect their own mental health and wellbeing. Many people (vaccinated and non-vaccinated) don’t want to live in a segregated society, and as vaccination rates climb it’s expected that we will do away with a lot of the measures that helped keep us safe before vaccines were widely available.
But that leaves me, and thousands of other people with disabilities or health issues, with a dilemma.
I want to be able to minimise my risk of catching COVID. That’s harder to do when there is no way for me to know if someone is vaccinated or not, and when social distancing and mask wearing is no longer mandated.
I have as much right to personal freedom and access to services as anyone. But I’m at higher risk.
Does that mean I should resign myself to never going out in public again? Never going shopping? Never eating out? Never going to the hairdresser, doctor, dentist?
My local supermarket offers a ‘Quiet Hour’ every week. For one hour each week the store turns down its lights, turns off the music, turns off the oven buzzers and creates a calm and quiet shopping environment to help reduce anxiety and stress for people who have sensory issues (such as Autistic people). This gives people with different accessibility needs the opportunity to be independent, and to shop in an environment that is less stressful and overwhelming.
I’d love to be able to have a certain time or day each week where people like me could access a service or visit premises and know that protocols were being followed to minimise the risks of spreading COVID. I would be so grateful to be able to engage with the world like that.
I’m not asking for a lot. I’m just asking for access and equity for those of us whose physical circumstances put us at higher risk every time we leave our home.
It would also be good to know that, if I need someone to come to my home to provide a service, that they can comply with my need for them to wear a mask, to socially distance and to follow hygiene practices which will minimise my risk. Would I prefer to know if they are vaccinated? Yes, I would. My life is at stake. I am happy if people prefer to decline to reveal their status, or would prefer not to do business with me because of my needs. But I want people to be honest with me, so that I can make informed decisions about my own wellbeing. This is not an issue of judgement or segregation based on your choices – it’s an issue of risk assessment, and me and my family’s personal safety.
I want us to be able to have these conversations.
It’s frustrating when I hear able-bodied and perfectly healthy people discussing COVID as a personal freedom or political issue, when, for some of us, it is so much more serious than that. Everyone is entitled to their choices. I just ask that in the mix, the room is made for the disability and chronic illness community to be able to maintain some safe access to services and to have the opportunity to have life choices too.
Respectfully, Nicole xx
10 thoughts on “A Possible Option For The Vax Or Non-Vax Issue In Daily Life”
Totally concur with what you’re saying, Nicole. Unfortunately, so many people are selfish and don’t stop to consider people with compromised immune issues. We owe it to everyone in society to be responsible when it comes to health issues. I hate wearing masks but I do so out of respect for others, as well as myself, of course. It’s a bit of a mission to have to sanitize all the time and follow the Covid guide lines but it’s for the best interests of myself and all others. You go, Girl. Loads of love and blessings xx
Admire the voice that you have raised for all who need to go out without fearing a health setback owing to the poor choices made by random folk. The idea for a “Quiet Hour” is exceptional. Hearing about it for the very first time and it is such a considerate and accommodative move. Doubt if it would ever be enabled in India. but I can still strongly wish for it , I guess.
Lots of Love, prayers and hugs
I also agree whole heartedly with you and I hope your voice is heard. As I have no voice. I am an oncology nurse with patients who also are immuno-compromised. I respect the right for everyone to make their own educated opinion. But I do not want for my patients or my family to be at risk from those who don’t follow the same empathetic principles Choose not to wear a mask but please don’t breathe on me while doing so. Choose not to follow simple hand hygiene etiquette, but please don’t use the supermarket trolley or handle the fruit and veg before me. Don’t socially distance, but please allow me to shop with others who will. I don’t force my values on you, so please respect that I am respecting yours and allow me to be risk free for those I care about and shop with others who feel likewise. There needs to be change in these areas, otherwise things are certainly going to be on a downhill trend before any improvements are forthcoming
I am with you Nicole! My husband needs to have heart surgery in the next couple of months. He cannot get sick right now or for a good spell after he has had this done.
Beautifully expressed and so sensible. Personally I’d love it if every hour was Quiet hour!!! 😊🙏💚
There are many people who benefit for everyone to be safe. Between 2019 – 2020 there were 200 children who died from influenza. However, during 2020 -2021 only 1 died. (article https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/03/02/children-flu-deaths/) I know it is a “hot” topic, but like you and others said “if we come from a place of caring/love” we will gladly do the right thing.
well said my friend
Nicole, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you have said. How wonderful to have a “Quiet Hour” for those of us who need it! The virus is very scary for those of us with multiple health issues. Thank you for bringing awareness to this life-saving issue.
This is a very important topic. Most people are unaware Covid virus can linger in the air for 12 hours after someone has left the space. This means you can get Covid in an empty room. Ventilation is key. CO2 monitors can show how fresh the air is (600ppm is good over 800 risky). Hepa filters clean viruses from the air. N95 masks are better than surgical ones. If we tend to ourselves and one another this epidemic disease will be unable to survive. No one knows how their body will react to Covid infection. I have been reading sufferers from long Covid talk about their lives after infection and it is extremely grim. So much heat is whipped up around this topic and we are forgetting what is important: to be thoughtful and considerate and to remember that until last century many people worldwide died of infectious disease.
I understand Nicole. My wish is that we could all just approach this from an ongoing place of caring for each other.