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I had my second Moderna vaccine, and like the first one, my upper arm swelled and hurt. Other than that, I was fine and relieved that it was done. The technician mentioned she didn’t know how booster shots will be managed, but hopefully it will be a simple routine procedure at the doctor’s office.

Although it’s been over a year, I am still not used to wearing a mask, so getting vaccinated is somewhat anticlimactic. The CDC advises that a mask and social distancing should still be standard in public though not necessary for small indoor gatherings where everyone has been fully vaccinated.

I took my granddaughter to the playground and was relieved it was empty when we first arrived. I placed our masks in my pocket. The next family to arrive wore masks. My five-year-old granddaughter, trained well by her parents, said, “Grandma, put my mask on. I don’t want to get COVID.” I put both our masks on. Then a little boy and his mother came without masks, and I tried to stay away from them. More people came without masks. I became uneasy as my granddaughter befriended a maskless little boy, swirling together down a twisted slide. I wasn’t comfortable with the risk, so we left.

My son who lived in China talks about how masks have been and apparently always will be the norm, in that case due to air quality. It pains me to imagine masks as a permanent fixture in the U.S., but I’ll do it if scientific data continues to suggest that it’s the only way to protect our health.

I struggle to understand people who refuse vaccination and social protocol when compliance may lead us toward some level of normalcy as we once knew it. How could fear of the vaccine be greater than fear of the disease itself? Maybe it’s the delusion that the disease is not imminent. Isn’t better to err on the side of caution?

It’s fascinating to watch children play. They have not yet learned to respect the socially acceptable space forcefully ingrained in adults. With laughter in their eyes, children get right up to faces, especially the smiling faces of other children. If choosing community safety over personal preference will allow maskless children to freely hug each other in school and on the playground again, isn’t that a better choice?