On Saturday morning I lined up with a lot of other people to get a Covid-19 test. I had flu-like symptoms and the online health check advised me to get tested, so I went.
Ahead of me in line was a father pushing a wheelchair designed for children with disabilities. In it was a boy who appeared to be about six or seven years old. He was so sound asleep that none of the nearby activities or the sounds of other, boisterous, children woke him up. He was wearing one-piece footed pyjamas and his arms had flopped over the sides of the chair.
I cannot get that boy and his dad out of my mind.
In all the discussions, scolding, and hand-wringing over the unvaccinated and those who refuse to wear masks, not enough attention has been paid to the most vulnerable people who could be negatively affected by our personal decisions. This boy and his father epitomized that for me.
No matter what reason a person might have to refuse the Covid-19 vaccine or to wear a mask, whether that is fear of adverse reactions, mistrust of the science, or resentment at being pressured, none of those justifications will matter to this boy if he has become infected.
We now know that any of us, vaccinated or not, can spread the Delta variant of Covid-19 so we all have to continue to be cautious. Yes, we are all fed up with the restrictions. And, yes, I know that we are all ready to travel again, to hug those we love, and to get back to a normal life. But we aren’t there yet.
I want to protect not only myself but also the defenceless people in my community, and the boy that I saw at the Covid testing centre epitomizes them for me. He is under twelve and cannot be vaccinated. He has a disability which may compromise his natural breathing functions. He is dependent on others for his mobility and general well-being. He needs all of us to protect him. Not only his parents and caregivers; all of us.
Because of him, I will stay away from other people until I am free of these flu symptoms. Because of him, I will encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Because of him, I will get a booster shot when they become available. Because of him, will continue to wear a mask indoors in public settings.
Yesterday evening I got the result of my Covid-19 test and was very relieved that it was negative. Then I wondered what the family of that boy is feeling today if they have received the result of his test. I hope for the best but I fear the worst.