The vaccine

After much waiting and sheer paranoia just going outside to buy groceries, I finally got the second dose of the vaccine.

Since I heard about the vaccine back at the beginning of the year (I think it was around then – everything has kind of melded together at this point), I couldn’t wait to get it.

It’s an odd feeling welcoming a horribly sore arm for the first dose and then merrily skipping to the second dose so I can feel like I’ve been in a badly planned bar fight the day after. But here we are.

As I wrote earlier, Japan gave every eligible person living in Japan a vaccination certificate in July good for two doses of a vaccine for free. They had a few websites set up for making appointments and a chart that let you know whether your surrounding clinics were interested in you calling them up, checking their website, going through the city’s vaccination website or some combination of them.

The problem was that everything booked up in an instant. This was right before the Olympics kicked off, and I think everyone was thinking like me in that it would probably be a good idea to be vaccinated before they began.

I at least got a stroke of luck in that I saw on the little chart mailed to me along with the vaccine certificates that my local clinic was fine with me calling them to ask. So I called them just before they closed for lunch, and they had exactly one appointment available. I didn’t care when; I took it. You want me at the clinic at 3 a.m. on a Monday morning? I’m there. I was beyond desperate for the vaccine.

I think driving my panic is obviously the delta variant, and the fact that about 95% of Japanese people, based on my own observations, are wearing masks out in public. This is a culture that has long accepted masks for occasions ranging from “I’m really sick” to “I didn’t have time to put makeup on this morning.” This is a culture that has now put wearing masks in public on the same level as wearing clothing in public.

And yet, the delta variant is raging here. I think people are getting tired of wearing masks to this extent, even in this country of mask-wearers. Society is pressing on with schools being back in session and people expected to head on in to work on crowded trains. People are starting to think taking their masks off for a few hours at a pub won’t be a huge problem.

To me, that means masks alone aren’t going to cut it anymore. Since the beginning of this pandemic I have held on to the belief that not making unnecessary outings, wearing a mask and washing my hands would all help me not catch this virus. Now I’m seeing that it’s all not enough.

And so here I am, gratefully suffering side-effects from my second dose of the vaccine, a great weight of anxiety raised slightly off my shoulders. I know there are breakthrough cases, but it’s only a fool who thinks anything is bulletproof. I’m sure I’ll wind up with horrible luck and get the stupid virus anyway. I’m just praying that I can help push along herd immunity all the same.

A newspaper the other day said about 50% of all those eligible for the vaccine in Japan have now gotten their second dose. I am praying, deeply horribly praying, that the percentage only rises.