opinion

Mia Freedman: The new COVID argument that’s dividing vaccinated people.

Last week I went to a wedding. It was bizarre. Not the wedding. The wedding was romantic and moving and wonderful.

The bizarre part was being at a wedding.

For two days - it was a country wedding - I barely had a conversation about COVID. I didn’t see or wear a mask. We celebrated. I danced. I met strangers. We stood close and talked.

And it was glorious. It had been so long since I’d done any of those things. Years.

I’d forgotten what it feels like to put down that familiar state of vigilance, alert, dread. In the lead up, right until an hour before the ceremony was due to start, I kept waiting for it to be cancelled.

Hearing that I spent two days unmasked, close-talking and dancing, you will likely be thinking one of two things: 

1. That sounds awesome.

2. That sounds terrifying.

So which is it for you?

This week, as COVID restrictions fall away in NSW and Victoria, some people are thrilled while others are freaking the hell out.

Ever since vaccinations became widely available in the middle of last year, there has been a clear and often combative divide between the 90 per cent of us who are vaccinated and who have followed all the health advice over the past two years and the noisy 10 per cent of Australians who are unvaxxed.

But now, there’s a new COVID divide opening up among the vaccinated and it’s ramping up.

In the first camp are the people who are ready to embrace what it truly means to live with COVID in an endemic way, as we do with other contagious illnesses for which there are vaccines, like the flu.

These people have either had COVID or know others who have and their view is that so long as you’re vaxxed, you’ll recover pretty quickly. If you asked them how many people in their state had COVID right now, they couldn’t tell you. They don’t pay much attention to the numbers anymore because they’re no longer so frightened of catching the virus.

They know that of course there’s a small chance they could become seriously ill and a miniscule chance they could die but similar risks apply to a lot of things we do including driving a car and overall, they’re prepared to assume personal responsibility for that risk in exchange for more freedom. The people in this camp are leaning back into pre-COVID life and keen to keep moving in that direction. New variants notwithstanding (sorry, triggering I know). 

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