September 3, 2021

Answering the Question of the Century: Why did you get Vaccinated?

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I am an old fuddy-duddy now, all 75 years of me, and getting a COVID-19 vaccination was not a priority.

I avoided all vaccinations of any kind since I was too young to have any say in the matter; the only exception being a host of vaccines necessary to get myself into India as a teen when it was a requirement for travel.

Those days are gone, and my Covid shots are the first in over 50 years.

So why did I get it?

I wish I could give a profound answer, but I can only say I got it because everyone else did.

I live in a forested, 600-acre, isolated, monastic community in Norther California. We hosted meditations and recitations attended by people in the town of Ukiah near our monastery on a daily basis.

But all of this changed when the Covid virus appeared, and our monastery locked down and has stayed locked down since January 2020. No one can enter and no one can leave, to this day. It’s been almost 18 months now.

This “precaution” seemed overreactive at the time, but as cases climbed in the nearby towns, it became less so. Our abbot rightly reasoned that if one of our more than 250 community members got sick, everyone would be in danger.

We all adapted to the lockdown quite well, even the volunteers who—unlike the monks and nuns—previously took the liberty to go to town a few times a week, run errands, go to doctors, and so forth.

It was frustrating for me at the beginning, but after sneaking out a few times and getting caught, I stayed put and got into the lockdown groove and actually thrived in it.

After a year or so of lockdown, we all got the opportunity to get the Pfizer Covid vaccination. We did not have to leave our property to get the vaccine as our monastery has a nurse who got authorized to give vaccines to us and two neighboring monasteries.

Everyone here got vaccinated, except 16 nuns, one monk, and three volunteers who declined to get the vaccine.

All those who declined had the same reason—safety concerns.

As for me, I was not concerned for the safety of the vaccine, but simply felt it was not necessary since we were all in seclusion anyway. Not only that, but everyone also wore masks all the time, even though the property is forested and open.

Our property is divided: women on one side and men on the other. I was one of three on the men’s side not getting vaccinated. One day I was asked by one of the other unvaccinated men if I had received the shot. I guess he was looking for a compadre, for he seemed pleased to find support from the unvaccinated few.

One day I got an email from a nun telling me to go get vaccinated on a certain date and time, a rare communication from a nun to a male, monastic or lay.

I realized at that moment that although getting the vaccine hadn’t been a priority to me, it truly mattered to others.

Moreover, since I had known her for 50 years, I thought that I should be a good puppy and do as commanded. I emailed her back and stated that I would be there at the date and time she mentioned.

I was, and got my second dose on my own, no prodding.

Aside from the nun’s suggestion, I was moved to get vaccinated to dissociate myself from the person mentioned above and others who reminded me of counter-culture people without two legs to stand on, sort of like fools who complain about wearing a mask in a place of business when requested to do so.

Granted, you may not like wearing a mask or getting vaccinated, but why not do it for the sake of others? Isn’t this an easier attitude to adopt?

This is why I got vaccinated.

I am happy I did because it pleased others and didn’t put them in danger. Why make an issue out of a non-issue?

I am still living in lockdown, along with the others, with next to zero chance of getting Covid, regardless of vaccine status, but the point is that complying to the wishes of others and giving them priority over my own saves me from pretending that I am defending rights I don’t care about.

Why spend any energy fighting about vaccines or masks when the easiest thing to do is join others in doing what’s better for society as a whole?

There are enough times when it is not reasonable to join the herd, but the issue of vaccinations and masks is not one of them.


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