vauxhall and i

SOMETIME IN EARLY ’94, I walked into a music store in New York and saw Morrissey’s new album, Vauxhall and I. I was 14 years old, which is a tender, non-knowing age in man years. Generationally, I occupied an interesting in-between space between the older kids, who were well versed in The Smiths and the odyssey of Morrissey, and the younger kids, who would probably only learn about them in college many years later. I can’t say Morrissey appealed to me on any level, looking like Chris Isaak crossed with Helena Bonham Carter, but that name stuck with me. Who was this Vauxhall and what did he have to do with this brooding Englishman? Much later, while in London perhaps, I did indeed learn that Vauxhall was the name of a street. But that is all irrelevant, because this story is actually about vaccinations and “vaxholes,” not Vauxhall, though I enjoy the similarity. I’m wondering why I became vaccine hesitant, and it probably goes back to looking at these rather pitiful effectiveness rates of the early vaccines, Jannsen and AstraZeneca, which promised to deliver around 66 percent protection. Which wasn’t very promising, honestly, if these were the tools that would supposedly catapult us back into normalcy, or perhaps some two-tier system for the vaccinated and unvaccinated, where those with the doses could cut ahead in line in airports while sneering at those idiots in the unvaccinated slow line. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines looked better, for sure, but recent studies have shown efficacy hovering around 39 percent versus the Delta variant, the one that matters currently, which is pretty much where Jannsen and AZ are. This, plus widely reported breakthrough outbreaks, some of them in highly protected populations, mean we aren’t going back to normal on the back of first-generation vaccines. It’s just not happening. There will be some adjustments in policy, but they haven’t been fully articulated yet. Recent anger toward people who asked questions about vaccines, or decided on a “wait-and-see” approach, which is understandable when you are dealing with experimental new healthcare products, has one foot in legitimacy and another in frustration with the status quo. Yet there is anger, a lot of it, and there will be more. People will turn on each other, blame each other, and hurt each other. Mostly because hopes have been dashed.

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