Viruses, vaccines and snowball fights – Beside the Point

Not sure how were gonna tie this all together, but let’s give it a ride.

I spent about an hour reading, then re-reading an article in New York Magazine about how Moderna had a vaccine ready for use even before the pandemic threw a heavy afghan of anxiety over the United States.

The article was very interesting, so interesting in fact that I posted it to my own Facebook page. I typically don’t put up other people’s writing on my Facebook page. Call it ego, but my page… my stuff.

The article took a hard look at the fear that exists in the country and world about getting the vaccine, out of fear it was rushed to market.

But here’s the thing. Well, first make sure you go read this article. Just Google “Moderna already had the vaccine – New York Magazine”. Then read it again so it all seeps in.

But Moderna, and Pfizer, were able to fire up a vaccine very quickly because they had already been building it. When SARS first hit, it kick started a race of sorts to find ways to shorten the time frame for adapting current viral remedies in new strains.

Think flu vaccines. Big pharma researchers “guess” at what strain of flu will present itself each season and manipulate the “messaging” in the vaccine to attack that strain. That’s where the percentages come in. Sometimes they hit and sometimes they miss.

But here’s the big whoop-de-doo. No one really worries about the safety of a flu vaccine, only if it will work – and if they’ll get sick from it. Why no fear of a zombie apocalypse with flu shots?

All scientists are saying you cannot get COVID from this vaccine because there is no live virus in the vaccine. You cannot get sick, but the word is that it will give you a jolt on the “booster” that is given 21 to 28 days after the first inoculation.

A low-grade fever, muscle aches, and fatigue that last about a day. Now that may not sound like fun, so I asked a friend that makes some kick-butt stained glass art, and also knows something about vaccines – Craig Wills, a local pharmacist.

Craig said he’d give the vaccine in a heartbeat to his 80-year-old mother because it will work. I said, yeah, but I hear the booster’s a little wicked. He said it can be because it’s giving your immune system a kick in the pants building spikes that get after the spikes on the novel coronavirus.

I felt exponentially better about this vaccine after reading the article, and then even moreso after talking with Craig.

So I say six months from now we tell this thing to “bug” off. And feel better about the next bug that comes calling. I could go all scientific to this readership, but suffice it to say, the viruses are all within a family of about 50 strains, and the safety tests done on SARS, and now the novel coronavirus, are essentially the same.

Of course no one wants to be in this mess, but the reality is that we are. Community spread is still moderate and our rating in Lee County is still over 23%. But people are masking up. I mask up everywhere and limit any conversations from people outside my home to less than 15 minutes and try to stay six feet away.

It’s common sense that we do these things, but more importantly, it helps those who help us. The people at Lee County Health Department and Fort Madison Community Hospital are running at peak capacity within their walls. We need to be the ally outside their walls.

Data surrounding the infections in Iowa has been a bag of cats and we’ve questioned county vs. state data. At this point I’ve made a decision to back our health care providers.

We can pull back the layers when they’ve had a chance to breathe and gather comfortably with their own families…

When residents in care centers can finally see their loved ones again…

When I can stop by my brother’s house for a beer and homemade snacks and watch my niece and nephew, who I love dearly, drive their parents crazy. It’s my down time because I just get to leave the chaos with a smile. I miss those days.

We all need to smile. We can behind these masks – and it shows in our eyes.

But I imagine doctors, nurses, and care center staff working diligently in environments where combat pay seems appropriate. Then I see them sitting on a bench, or leaning on a counter and taking a breath. No smile, just fatigue to exhaustion, and anxiety about their own families.

They signed up for this and they’ve had our backs. Now with a real end in sight, we have to stay strong, so they can stay strong.

Let’s not guess at what we don’t know – but act on what we do.

Christmas movies are certainly getting creative. When Randy cries because he can’t put his arms down in A Christmas Story, I lose my eggnog, but Buddy the Elf going Gatling Gun in a snowball fight can pull a belly laugh.

Along those lines, I just don’t know why people don’t use the distraction technique. You make four snowballs and throw two up in the air to get the attention of the enemy. Then you drill ’em in the throat when they’re looking up – but that’s Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is the editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached by emailing

3 thoughts on “Viruses, vaccines and snowball fights – Beside the Point

  1. Your musings on the Covid vaccine are very timely. There actually has been no shortage of articles explaining in great scientific detail why these vaccines are safe. Unfortunately, I think not many people have taken the time to read them, and understand the science behind the vaccines. Case in point, a recent local newspaper report posting responses from several Ft. Madison residents regarding the vaccine. One person responded that she’d only take it if it had been tested on other people first. I’m not sure what basement she’s been hiding in, but what does she think these trials have been all about for the last six months. A different respondent said he would only take it if Joe Biden is in charge. Another soundly rational response from a keen individual. Hopefully in a few months the vaccine will place this pandemic in the history books, along with discussions of virus data manipulation and lockdowns for purely political purposes.

  2. Hopefully Trump cult members that do not believe in science will refuse vaccine and this will help to thin out the herd of trumpanzees !!

    1. Coming from the same people who dont believe in science when it comes to so many other things.
      Science is a convenience to you.

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