For the last 3 weeks I’ve been suffering from a terrible summer cold that has really kicked my butt in a way that a cold virus has never done to me before. It made me realize how changed and weak my immune system is since the 2019 pandemic started. Wearing masks for over a year now undoubtedly made our bodies sterile to common colds to the point that that a summer cold virus could prolong itself into 3+ week ordeal. And I’m not the only one dealing with this summer cold from hell. Most people in my friend/acquaintance network and wellness community are suffering from the same never-ending symptoms. It’s definitely something that's going around Manhattan!
In case you’re wondering, I don’t have COVID-19. I’ve actually been getting tested every week just to make sure. Negative results every time! I’m vaccinated and to this day, have still not contracted COVID-19. I literally just knocked on a wood table. I feel exceptionally lucky that I’ve made it this long without falling victim to COVID-19 considering it has taken a toll on my family, with a significant loss of life on my Latino side of the family.
What being really sick from a terrible cold has taught me, especially with the threat of COVID-19 looming, is how much I appreciate the notion of feeling good. For the last 3-weeks all I’ve wanted is to feel good again. I want to stop coughing, hacking, snorting, spewing snot across the room when I sneeze, swallowing disgusting mucus when it has nowhere else to go, and feeling dizzy when I stand up too fast. Let me tell you, it’s been anything but fun.
At this point, what I can’t imagine is being SICKER. No way! The thought of contracting COVID-19--or worse--the new delta variant, is terrifying! I want to get better so I can get back on a healthy work schedule, return to running outside, and not be so scared of getting others sick. Aside from cold meds, lots of rest and countless bowls of chicken noodle soup, WANNA KNOW WHAT I'M DOING TO GET BETTER? Answer: I’m limiting my exposure to non-vaccinated people.
I want to be clear and say this. Previously, the idea of being around unvaccinated people did not bother me. I was unvaccinated myself until April 2021. We were all at one point floating in the same boat. But a lot has changed, which I'm going to explain. First and foremost, I want to say I respect the choice of unvaccinated people to do as they wish with their body. Your body...your temple. I subscribe to that. And when I first got vaccinated, my new vax'd status made me feel safe. So I thought 'hey, as long as I’m vaccinated...and I'm good...that’s all that matters’. But now I feel differently.
There are more than a few people in my life who I come into close contact with repeatedly that are unvaccinated by choice, and I've made the decision to have tough conversations about it. In case you’re in the same boat, I wanted to offer some advice that I'm presenting as:
MY NO-VAX CONVERSATION HACKS
Four Tips for having a conversation with people who do not share your views on getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
1. The first and toughest conversation you're going to have is with yourself. Own the right to make the best decision for your personal health and to not feel guilty about that decision.
For instance, I recently made a tough decision to break up with my Nail Tech. If you follow me on instagram, you'll understand why this is such a big deal for me. I love crazy, artistic nails and get them done monthly. Hopefully this breakup isn't a forever thing as I adore my nail tech and her work, but she doesn’t believe in the COVID-19 vaccination and told me this herself. She’s hesitant to get it because she believes it may do more harm than good. While I don’t agree with her, I respect her choice. And the one thing I know is within the time she told me her views, she DID contract COVID-19 along with her whole family.
I was happy to see her working again a few weeks later, but I began to worry about how it could affect me. Was I taking a risk being in such close contact with her every month??? Sometimes it takes her up to 3 hours to do my nails! That's a lot of exposure! So I made the choice to find a new nail tech that IS vaccinated. Additionally I have bad asthma, a condition that makes me incredibly vulnerable to sinus and pulmonary infections, especially those caused by Coronavirus. My asthma earned me early access for getting vaccinated in NYC and even with my Pfizer shots, I'm told I still have to be very careful. So, I made the call to say goodbye, for now, to the woman who does my nails. Allowing myself to be OK rejecting someone like this was hard--I don’t like rejecting people as I know the feeling of being rejected all too well. But ultimately, knowing I did this for my personal health made accepting it a little easier. The conversation you end up having with yourself is committing to taking a stance. We all know Jennifer Aniston did.
2. Once you’ve made a decision about how you plan to interact with people who oppose vaccination, tread lightly.
This isn’t a war, it’s just a difference in opinion. Think about it like pro-life and pro-choice on abortion. We have different stances on things, and it’s likely going to affect how we live our lives but it most certainly shouldn't lead to hurling insults, hating people or getting into physical altercations. It’s just a personal preference, so try and view the idea of “choice” from the other person’s shoes. It’s not worth creating enemies over or getting into fights. You’ll most likely regret it once we survive this pandemic. Cutting off people entirely without explanation just isn’t healthy, which leads me to my next point.
3. Explain to people why you feel uneasy. Find a subtle way into asking questions about vaccination enforced measures. Remember, these are sensitive times.
I’m all about communication. Sharing your concerns, discomfort or uneasiness takes bravery. It’s hard but most of the time people will listen and want to problem solve with you to address the issue, especially if it's a service provider trying to maintain their business. When I found out my nail tech was unvaccinated, I had a tough conversation with the owner of the nail salon. The salon I go to is a high end place in Manhattan that charges $200+ for one-of-kind artistic manicures. I spend a lot of money there, and my hunch was that they wouldn’t want to lose my business. I wanted the owner to know why I felt umcomfortable with the situation (so that she wouldn't see it as a direct attack on her business), and if we could arrive at a solution somehow so that I could still get my nails done. I definitely want to continue supporting her business if there’s a safe way to do so. She offered the option of a nail tech who's openly vaccinated while explaining that she'd never impose vaccinations on her staff. I felt happy to be heard and have my worries validated. I think our favorite go-to businesses deserve our input and feedback in order to have the opportunity to address these issues if they can.
New York City is on the verge of issuing major vaccination mandates as part of a program called the Key to NYC Pass. From what I’m hearing, we’ll have to show our vax cards in order to dine at restaurants and work out at gyms. NYC employees at specific service-related and entertainment establishments will be required to be vaccinated. These mandates will start to go into effect on Aug 16th, 2021 and will be fully enforced by Sept 13, 2021. I’m anxious to find out more details, because I think these mandates are going to be a really big deal and also life-changing for us New Yorkers (in both good and bad ways). If you live in NYC and you haven’t had “No Vax conversations” yet, you’ll probably be having lots of them very soon. So, in all frankness, prepare yourself!
The fact that I suffer from asthma is an easy way for me to broach the subject with people and explain why I’d like to know more about their vaccination policy. People are usually nice when you come from a place of health vulnerability as opposed to creating reasons for division. When you're having these types of conversations, just try to gather as much information as possible to help you arrive at a sound decision. I recommend finding your own non-confrontational way to ask the questions that are important to you. Everyone is feeling very judged these days, so maybe try NOT to come from that vibe.
4. Just because you’re vaccinated doesn’t mean unvaccinated folks should be extracted from your path or the places you go (at least not until we see how state mandates roll out).
Once you’ve had those tough conversations and made personal decisions from them, you must get it into your head that in many scenarios you’re going to have to be the one to withdraw. Don't turn into a vaccination nazi. And I know that might sound harsh, but do you really want to live in that kind of world? Rather, start figuring out what situations you’re willing to participate in and which ones you’re going to take a pass on. In the past few weeks, I’ve been invited to baseball games and concerts that I absolutely don’t feel comfortable going to. I’ve said “no” to these invitations and explained why. I’ve been unwavering in my decision and will continue to stick to my guns until I feel safer. I’m not going to withdraw from everything but I will be withdrawing from huge gatherings.
Have my friends who’ve invited me to these events judged me for saying "no"? Probably. But I don’t care. As long as I’m training myself to have these tough conversations, I feel good. In fact, the more you have them, the less uncomfortable it becomes. My advice to you is don’t dodge these opportunities. People will eventually respect you for being committed to your values. Just don’t be a hypocrite. Remember, we’re living in highly sensitive times. Make up your mind before you open your mouth, and just remember everyone's choice deserves respect.
I know this can be a touchy subject but I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments if you feel comfortable sharing them below. Thanks!