This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for — just take the COVID vaccine.

For all its faults and valid criticisms of the agency, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) routinely, effectively manages the food supply and countless pharmaceuticals daily. We go to the grocery store and pharmacy without a second thought. Mercifully there’s rarely any harkening back to moments, historical traumas of medical malfeasance past while picking up produce or prescriptions. Why? Because we all know, fundamentally believe that the FDA generally, with few exceptions, does an excellent job of keeping our food and drug supplies safe.

Now, after over 300K deaths domestically — knowing that many still struggle with consistent masking and distancing, or that most of us have regularly taken safe scripts/food throughout our lives — it seems unwarranted, unconscionable, even arbitrary to suddenly assert so much skepticism or resistance to vaccination. It seems beyond-the-pale to believe that our communities, particularly Black and Brown ones, could afford, willingly opt to absorb the possible price in additional suffering and death delaying or forgoing any rounds of vaccination might cost.

I’m not asking you not to be a skeptic, to stop scrutinizing uncritically. I’m also not asking you or anyone else to believe something their daily lived experiences or current behaviors don’t already seem to support as true.

Either we trust in, lead with the science and data we have on hand, or we intend to suffer behind misinformation, distrust, and paranoid (meme-fueled) conjecture — we are certainly not leading with either if we do not allow them to trump our trepidations. I’m not asking you not to be a skeptic, to stop scrutinizing uncritically. I’m also not asking you or anyone else to believe something their daily lived experiences or current behaviors don’t already seem to support as true. I’m asking the vast majority of people to continue behaving the way they do every day when they implicitly offer the FDA their vote of confidence — without a second thought, go to pick-up cereal, cucumbers or take their high blood pressure meds, painkillers, get the seasonal flu shot, or follow their kids’ vaccination schedules.

If you’ve been to the pharmacist or the grocery store this week and purchased items you then put into your body and have been doing so all year, how did THIS moment suddenly give you pause? How is it different than virtually every other time you went to get vaccinated and didn’t read the peer-reviewed studies or agency proceedings on the compounds being injected into your body? If we were completely honest, we might concede that the FDA has generally been doing well enough for most of us not to feel compelled to start subsistence farms or compound pharmacies. Taking this vaccine isn’t an actual stretch for anyone who isn’t already routinely eating or drinking or taking medication produced by the current domestic supply chains overseen by the FDA.

It seems now many of us, maybe unsurprisingly, have become militantly contrarian amateur virologists, (vaccine) epidemiologists, dietitians as cover for the very same anxieties, traumas we already use food and all those other substances to mask.

Look, we intentionally poison our bodies every day with substances like alcohol or tobacco and other chemistry altering narcotics with no appreciable health benefits. We overeat and malnourish our systems routinely, habitually, and there’s 0 shortage of compelling data or research that confirms the self-destructive nature of these activities. Yet, at the possible threshold of deliverance from a global pandemic that has cost us an almost incomprehensibly high price in lives and livelihoods, we decide to balk. It seems now many of us, maybe unsurprisingly, have become militantly contrarian amateur virologists, vaccine epidemiologists, dietitians as cover for the very same anxieties, traumas we already use food and all those other substances to mask.

Holding out against the first opportunity at an intervention given this country’s legacy of medical apartheid and many of our personal and communal histories of its resulting atrocities is unsurprising; given the year we’ve all had, it’s also counter-intuitive and needlessly self-destructive. And I am sitting here writing this, not wanting any more of us to suffer and die. Not behind unchecked fears that don’t offer us a path forward, that can’t save us or keep us as safe as we deserve. So, if we agree that our current moment demands urgent remediation but that our unwillingness may be rooted in the constraining traumas of other ones — we must also reconcile ourselves to anxieties, however valid, that may eventually kill us.

Holding out against the first opportunity at an intervention given this country’s legacy of medical apartheid and many of our personal and communal histories of its resulting atrocities is unsurprising; given the year we’ve all had, it’s also counter-intuitive and needlessly self-destructive.

I’m not implying that receiving a vaccination won’t require trust or courage, particularly in systems that, for far too many, have done little to engender either. It most certainly will. I’m saying it won’t require an unfamiliar amount. I’m offering that we have to try because, as best we can tell, the cost of holding out is far greater than the cost of giving in. We can’t afford to let our collective traumas, paranoia, hypocrisies, or at times self-contradictory refusals rule the day. I am saying that doing so will cost us more in real lives, livelihoods and that such an outcome is both avoidable and utterly unacceptable.

Agitated. Thought-filled. Occasional writer.