My wife and I just got our fourth covid vaccinations last week. Thanks to the good people at the Butte/Silver Bow Health Department, we got a second booster shot and we’re getting a bit more confident that we’ll avoid the complications from that nasty coronavirus pandemic.
As it happened, my wife got her jab from a retired nurse she first knew when she worked part time at the local hospital a few years back. In a conversation, the nurse related that she retired last year because she was really burned out from the stress of the pandemic and treating patients who had refused vaccinations for covid, and then being totally uncooperative “while we were trying to save their life.”
My wife and I agree that health care professionals who have risked their own health treating covid patients for over two years now, will rate a special place in heaven for all they have done. Alas, there are numerous health care people who risked their health and lost, including many who lost their lives to covid infections that they caught while in the line of duty.
So, to all our health care professionals, the doctors, the nurses, administrators, and the many other people working in the backgrounds doing scheduling and planning, and researchers who develop vaccines and new medicines, our hats are off to you for all you have done and are doing for public health.
My wife and I also agree we’ve probably had more than a little luck, as neither of us have had as much as a cold in the last two and a half years. Of course, masks and social distancing might have had something to do with that.
While we have been relaxing some of the various rules and restrictions of the last couple years as new covid infection rates decline, this doesn’t mean that the Pandemic is over. China is having a new explosion of cases right now. That’s partly due to the rather ineffective vaccine that China developed, as well as the reality that viruses continue to mutate, and every new variant raises the possibility that people who have escaped the coronavirus so far will finally find it catching up to them.
So, we are grateful we’ve been able to get vaccinated and have had boosters to keep up our immunity.
For those of us who enjoy the outdoors, we have certainly seen some unexpected results of covid, as people across the country seemingly rediscovered the outdoors. I know we’ve seen packed public campgrounds the last couple years. Many flyshops, along with outfitters and guides, saw activity plummet when the pandemic started, but then bounced way back as people took to the outdoors where things seemed a bit safer.
In 2020, we spent a weekend at a BLM campground on the upper Madison River. We’d been there many times over the years and never had any problems finding a campsite. That time, we were lucky to find a vacant campsite. I had a chat with the campground host who had worked there about seven years and had never seen it like it was in 2020. In more typical years the campground would reach capacity just six or seven times in the season. In early August, that year, he’d already put up the No Vacancy sign over 40 times and muttered that just keeping all the outhouses stocked with toilet paper was wearing him out.
Now, it’ll be interesting, as we tentatively inch back toward some new form of normalcy, whether some of the people who hit the road for the open spaces when the pandemic hit will continue to seek escape in the outdoors, or if they’ll return to the more urban leisure activities they pursued before coronavirus blew up the world.
Incidentally, as a footnote to those booster shots, I elected to get a Moderna vaccine, after three previous Pfizer shots. The nurse administering the vaccine said I’d probably get a pretty good reaction to the booster.
She had that right! It kicked me like a mule. Fortunately, it’s temporary.
Paul Vang’s new book, “Golden Years, Golden Hours,” is available at How Novel, The Second Edition, Isle of Books & Books, and The Corner Bookstore, or online at http://writingoutdoors.com.
As one of those healthcare workers that was privileged to care for the fine citizens of Greater Montana I thank you for your gratitude on behalf of those who don’t read your column. COVID was rough but fortunately none of my peers were killed or damaged by the virus. We have a lot to do to make the healthcare system better than it was before and your voice is motivating. Hope to get out soon and keep those geese company!
Thanks, Eric, for your comments, and for your service on the front lines. And one of these days we’ll venture back to the front lines of the trout frontier.