The COVID pandemic has brought on a lot of divide amongst the nation.
Unfortunately, this means that major conflicts are starting because of our values instead of making an attempt to understand the other side.
For many, it is now a political issue when discussing the vaccine, mask mandates, and shut downs. Without having a proper conversation, peoples intelligence and integrity are thrown out the window because of an opposing position. Even before the COVID pandemic, I had family members that were anti-vaccination. Most of the doubt came from not knowing what was in the vaccine. Then after the report linking vaccines to autism came out, they were really against it and choose not to vaccinate their children. A 2011 study lead by C. Betsch, discusses the connection between vaccination decisions and where people get their information online. In this day and age, people google everything. It is easy to stumble upon (anti-) vaccination websites that are less than accurate. Or, politically driven campaigns that want to use vaccinations to promote their own agenda. It is hard to get accurate information because it is hard to know who to trust.
There is also the fear of needles and disgust of blood driving anti-vaccination (Hornsey et al., 2018). Herd immunity can come about without a vaccine. However, without a vaccine, the process will take much more time and millions of people will have to be infected (Randolph et al., 2020). Another issue is difficultly maintaining a healthy lifestyle during isolation and shutdowns. After about 6 months of barely going outside and not being able to go to the gym, my body went through some negative physical changes. I had a lot of back and hip pains from sitting so much without walking. I used to get daily exercise and human communication by going to classes everyday. When the pandemic hit, I had to do all my work from home leaving little to no time for exercise. I was also faced with a loneliness that could not be addressed because it was nerve raking to even leave the house. In a study, college students without preexisting mental health concerns, took a survey May 2019, before the pandemic, and May 2020, after the pandemic. The results showed that students without preexisting mental health concerns exhibited declining mental health. Loneliness from social distancing and shutdowns was a big contributor. Schools need to support the mental health of students through continuous prevention and intervention to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on students (Hamza et al., 2021). Personally, I have gotten the vaccines, and the booster, I get tested, I wear a mask, and I social distance when I can, because I choose to. It would be nice if we could all collectively come together to stop this virus but this is not a common trend amongst humans. We can not come together to stop pollution, poverty, inequality, and so much more so I am not surprised by the divide COVID brought on. The divide does not need to be so extreme though. I got the vaccine to feel safe; if someone feels safer not getting the vaccine then that is there choice. I may not agree with it but I do not need to have a say. I also feel safer taking off my mask in some places because I know I got the vaccine, however many places will tell me to put one on. I think it should be my choice to wear one. We have always been around viruses and diseases. The response to this virus has become more of a political debate. It is also obvious that we have the capability to go completely remote— for some people it is better for their mental health to work from home while for others it is essential to go out into society. Both options should be available for the future because everyone has different needs. Workspaces and schools need to be accommodating and considerate about mental health. I value balance, and we are in a state where everything is off-balance. To get back on track we need to be more understanding and examine all sides of a dilemma.
I believe that if we all can step back understand where the other side is coming from (even if we don't get agree), then we can begin to find a collaborative path forward and heal as a nation
Betsch, C. "Innovations in communication: the Internet and the psychology of vaccination decisions." Eurosurveillance 16.17 (2011): 19849.
Hamza, Chloe A., et al. "When social isolation is nothing new: A longitudinal study on psychological distress during COVID-19 among university students with and without preexisting mental health concerns." Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne 62.1 (2021): 20.
Hornsey, Matthew J., Emily A. Harris, and Kelly S. Fielding. "The psychological roots of anti vaccination attitudes: A 24-nation investigation." Health psychology 37.4 (2018): 307.
Randolph, Haley E., and Luis B. Barreiro. "Herd immunity: understanding COVID-19." Immunity 52.5 (2020): 737-741.