Vaccinating patient

For the past 14 months, my logic about the COVID-19 pandemic has been a lot like my rationale for turning down any and all offers to go skydiving. 

Whenever possible, I avoid optional danger.

That means I don’t jump out of perfectly good airplanes, especially for kicks. And when it comes to risking a potentially lethal virus, I’ve done my best to avoid danger.

You know the drill: Stand 6 feet away from folks whenever possible. Wash your hands like a surgeon with a raging case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Wear a mask to the grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants and anywhere else the law requires.

Was I certain all the above would keep me healthy? No. But smart people I trust — like doctors and other -ologists — said not doing so would risk a serious downside, like, you know, death.

As an added bonus, the things I was asked to do weren’t that tough. I hate going shopping or sitting in meetings, so avoiding them felt a lot like not skydiving.

The easiest sacrifice to make is the sacrifice you were going to make anyway.

Getting a COVID-19 shot also was easy. The whole process took maybe two hours. When the state opened up vaccines to my age group, I registered online. 

Then, in early March and again three weeks later, I ventured across the Valley to the State Farm Stadium vaccine site. The first shot left me with a sore arm for a couple days. The second shot did the same.

Again, it came down to trust. Trained medical professionals said the vaccine was safe. Out of curiosity, I dug up some studies. The research indicated the risk of serious side effects was low. 

For the peace of mind being vaccinated would provide, it seemed like a safe play, a small price to pay for avoiding a virus that has killed more than 17,000 Arizonans and infected 870,000 people statewide.

That’s why I’m surprised to find myself in the minority as April comes to an end.

To date, in a state of 7.3 million people, about 40% have gotten at least one vaccination. Only about 30% of us — 2.2 million Arizonans — have been fully vaccinated. 

According to the state, demand for first doses of the vaccines has been falling lately, so now they’re allowing folks to just pop in whenever, even without an appointment.

“We know sometimes making an appointment for a later time is not as easy as … driving by and thinking, ‘I want to get a vaccine. I’m going to stop by.’ We can accommodate that now,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR. 

Christ is one of those folks in whom I have some basic trust. She has a master’s degree in microbiology with an emphasis in molecular virology and public health. And she earned her medical degree from the University of Arizona College of Medicine. 

Would I take her recommendations on how to invest my life savings? No. But on getting this vaccine, she’s the expert — and her recommendation squares with the rest of the global medical community.

That’s good enough for me. But apparently not for most Arizonans. 

You all must be the risk takers who keep skydiving companies in business. The adventurers who run with scissors, drink expired milk, think bungee jumping is a hoot, and who go swimming in the ocean without waiting 20 minutes after you eat a sandwich. 

You’re real daredevils, you optional danger lovers. I honestly hope it works out for you. Or that you have fantastic health insurance. Me, I’m playing this one safe.