Wednesday, May 26, 2021


Three more weeks. That’s how long my kids have to wait until they’re fully vaccinated. While most shots – to protect against such seemingly far-fetched ailments as tetanus and polio and diphtheria – are events to be dreaded at annual doctor’s office visits, the coronavirus vaccine was one all three of my children were eager to get.

This vaccine lifts a world of worry from their shoulders, one I hadn’t fully realized they’d been carrying these last long 14 months. Yes, getting the vaccine will mean less mask wearing and more hanging out with friends. But it is so much more than that.

When vaccination opened to the 12- to 16-year-old age group, I scheduled first shot appointments for early June, figuring the kids would be out of school by their second dose, and more easily able to handle any side effects. But when I happily announced this news, all three said they wanted their shots sooner. As soon as possible. They were tired of waiting. Tired of wondering when they’ll be able to hang out with friends – whenever and wherever they’d like – without masks.

They are done with pandemic worry. They are ready to move forward.

My kids have been lucky this past academic year to have spent almost all of it in school. Yes, they wore masks to class, for hours a day. Yes, they had to stick with their limited cohorts, which meant no mingling at lunch tables or in hallways – and, for my 6th grader, missing out on many of the traditional last-year-of-elementary-school events, including the field trip to Boston, a series of outdoor education hikes in the mountains, and getting to be leaders for various activities of mixed age groups at school.

But they have not been isolated. Their human interaction has not been limited to seeing friends and classmates only through a screen. They played soccer in the fall and competed in ski races through winter, both activities that are as much about being with friends as they are about athletics and competition. When they had questions about schoolwork, they were able to ask their teachers in person. They’ve had the welcome routine of going to school each weekday morning.

Still, amid all of this not-quite-normal, there’s been an underlying fear. Fear of getting sick. Fear of getting someone else sick. Fear of being ostracized if they did contract Covid. Being vaccinated won’t eliminate this anxiety entirely, but it alleviates it in a huge way. One shot in, my kids are already feeling that Covid concern ease a bit. One down, one to go. Forward.

Original content published by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul. This essay appears as Meghan's May 27, 2021 Close to Home column in the Littleton Record.

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