In my best estimation, this is how we should address COVID-19 at this point:
1. You are going to get COVID-19. It's very likely endemic now. Breakthrough Delta infections carry the same viral load in the nasopharynx of the vaxxed and unvaxxed alike. Resign yourself to this fact. You are going to get COVID-19. If not Delta, then whatever variant comes next due to antigenic drift.
2. There is no herd immunity. There is no eradicating this virus. "Zero COVID" is a fantasy. It's too widespread, too mutable, and too contagious. Eventually, this will join the other common coronaviruses in circulation (229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1).
3. The vaccines shouldn't be considered vaccines. Consider them similar to seasonal flu shots. They are here to make sure that when you get COVID-19 (And let me reiterate: You are going to get COVID-19), you are far less likely to be hospitalized or die.
4. When enough people, vaxxed and unvaxxed, get COVID-19 (And let me reiterate: You are going to get COVID-19), those 99+% of us who survive will develop long-lasting resistance (not immunity) from COVID-19. This has happened in just about every viral outbreak in the history of mankind.
5. When most of us have long-lasting resistance (not immunity) from catching COVID-19 (And let me reiterate: You are going to get COVID-19), then COVID-19 will join the laundry list of seasonal colds and flus that we've always dealt with. This is what happened to the Spanish flu of 1918. The flu you got back in *The Before Time*? It's quite likely that it's a descendant of that H1N1 Spanish flu.
6. Get the vaccine. Especially if you're in any of the vulnerable categories: immunocompromised, overweight, diabetic, elderly. All the data we have says that it is reasonably safe (as far as we know so far, and yes, there is still research to be done for years to come, and claiming otherwise is propaganda), but if you're in any of the vulnerable groups, you're taking a much bigger risk when you catch COVID-19 without the vax than with it (And let me reiterate: You are going to get COVID-19).
7. If you're not in any of the vulnerable groups, your decision is tougher. Of course there is a small chance that the vaccines *may* have as-yet-undetected side effects. But we *know for certain* that there's also a small chance of you being young, healthy, and still dying from COVID-19 when you contract it. (And let me reiterate: You are going to get COVID-19). The chance of becoming severely ill or dying from COVID-19 if you've been vaccinated goes down DRAMATICALLY, regardless of age group or vulnerabilities.
8. All of that being said, I strongly oppose vaccine mandates of any kind. Because, if you are vaccinated or not, I am going to get COVID-19. (And let me reiterate: I am going to get COVID-19). When I do, I have been vaccinated, and I am much less likely to get severely ill or die from it. I am as protected as I ever will be (before catching COVID-19) because I decided to get vaccinated. *Your vaccine status doesn't affect my chances of catching COVID-19. Because, eventually, we are all going to catch COVID-19, vaxxed and unvaxxed alike.*
9. The vaccines are only a bridge to make sure as many of us survive COVID-19 when we catch it as possible, and thus gain long-term resistance. (And let me reiterate: We are all going to get COVID-19).
10. This situation sucks. This is the best we can hope for. But, frankly, it's manageable.
11. If this was the messaging from our leaders and health experts, we'd have much lower vaccine hesitancy. We would know what to really expect. And we'd maybe trust them just a little more because they aren't treating us like children, and telling us to shut up and do what we're told without a real explanation.