Making COVID history requires us to do our part


It was a morning I woke up with a very stuffy head and a low-grade fever that got progressively worse throughout the day.

Within a few days, my head had cleared up, but the fever persisted — for another several days, hovering around 102.

As you might have guessed, I’m now one of tens of thousands in New York protected by a coronavirus vaccine booster shot. And while I was indeed a bit under the weather for the next couple of days after that injection, it wasn’t from those symptoms above.

No. That is what I shared with you in this very space on April 9, 2020, recalling my very recent battle with COVID-19.

I have no clue where it came from. Our Riverdale Avenue office is just across the street from SAR High School — one of the first educational institutions in the country shut down in the wake of what was then a very young, and very, misunderstood pandemic.

But just days before, I had attended a job fair at a CUNY graduate school just downtown, elbow-bumping with some great future journalists, but long before wearing face masks would become part of our daily lives. And I took the subway there and back.

I was one of the lucky ones. I didn’t require hospitalization, and I couldn’t even confirm I indeed had COVID-19 until a couple months later when I submitted to an antibodies test that had finally become available.

Still, just a few months later, I was hospitalized with pneumonia doctors believed was indirectly related to my infection, and I spent well over a year suffering from the draining effects of what is now known as long-haul COVID-19. A very strict diet — that also helped me lose 100 pounds — has mitigated many of the physical effects of that condition. But a few of the mental effects, like brain fog, still remain to this day.

I scheduled my booster shot for the day before Thanksgiving. I wasn’t traveling anywhere and had no plans. I did get sick after the second dose of my original vaccine, and I decided to ensure I wouldn’t miss work if it happened again.

I felt “blah” on Thanksgiving, but then woke up Friday morning with a very painful migraine. It took me a while to get out of bed, but a hot shower and a few ibuprofen later, I felt a lot like my old self. And even came to work.

Getting sick like that was not fun, but neither is getting COVID-19. It’s been 20 months since I suffered through it, but I can’t turn around without hearing of someone else in my social sphere becoming infected. In late 2021.

Just a couple weeks back, a friend of mine from Ohio was finally coming to New York — only to have to cancel his trip at the very last second because his husband tested positive.

Another friend of mine, who would go out of his way to avoid any social or physical contact with anyone, just tested positive and is suffering through similar symptoms that I did.

And let’s not forget some of the more public recent infections, including state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi — who likely avoided major symptoms thanks to her vaccination status.

New York is great because more than 80 percent of adults are now completely vaccinated. But it’s that other 20 percent that is hurting New York — and millions more across the country that are hurting the United States as well.

Getting vaccinated is a no-brainer. People should have been lined up to get these shots, until there was no one left who needed a shot.

Then, we could focus our efforts on other countries where the vaccine isn’t as readily available, and where mutations — like the latest omicron variant — have cropped up. That’s what happens, by the way, if we let the virus just “run its course” like some anti-vaxxers would have you believe. That results in far more transmissible and deadly variants, not to mention more suffering and more death.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has been a punching bag for anti-vaxxers long before we knew what the coronavirus was. But he is absolutely right when it comes to vaccination: All of us need to protect ourselves. And by protecting ourselves, we also protect the ones we love.

New York City has a super-high vaccination rate — and as of right now, knock on wood, a low infection rate — so I know I’m preaching to the choir. But we have to seek out every family member, every friend, no matter where they are, and make sure they get the vaccine.

I don’t know about you, but I’m done with this pandemic. Yet it will never be over until we all play our part to make COVID-19 history.

The author is editor of The Riverdale Press

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