Choose joy this holiday season

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A year ago, not much had changed in our lives concerning COVID-19 and the unknown future before us. However, two truths stood out above anything else. We were hopeful for the new vaccine, and we were definitely tired of quarantine. Many of us still did not see our family members for the holidays, and only small groups gathered around the Christmas table compared to years past. Considering all we’ve been through and where we’ve finally come to, reflecting on 2021 proves joyful in a season that was built for just that – joy.

Last December, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and Ephraim McDowell started Associate vaccination on December 22. With the beginning of vaccination, we were able to finally look past the unfortunate government shutdowns and forced quarantines of 2020. We were able to start protecting our community and workers, and we were able to offer the nation hope.

In January, the United States surpassed 20 million cases of COVID-19 and a confirmed new, more contagious, strand of COVID-19 more commonly known as the Delta variant emerged, although it wasn’t detected in America until March. Still, we pushed on and into February when Ephraim McDowell was able to start public vaccination on February 2, and offered 300 doses to qualifying individuals in our first week alone. We gathered together with optimism, confident that we finally had what we believed we needed to make a change. To make a difference.

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March 2021 marked the second anniversary of the CDC announcing a global pandemic due to COVID-19. In April, we moved our vaccination clinic to the Boyle County Extension Office to be able to offer the community more days and times to be vaccinated. It was something that seemed so far from our grasp two years ago when COVID-19 took over the world as we knew it, and it was a service we were happy to finally be able to provide to our community.

Soon, regulations started lifting in some states for vaccinated individuals. Masks became optional outdoors. Social distancing was changed from six feet to three in some areas, and hope was on the horizon. However, COVID-19 wasn’t done with us yet.

We thought we were finally through with the worst and hopefully heading towards getting back to our “new normal.” Unfortunately, we were knocked down once again as regulations started to resurface and positive cases were on the rise. We felt slightly defeated and forced ourselves to get back up when we were so tired of running a never-ending race and then tried to further force ourselves to still believe that an end was in sight.

Many people might look at all we’ve been through this last year and still feel beaten down, but I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t because what 2021 showed us more than anything else is we’re fighters. It showed us that even when COVID-19 tried to knock us back down time and time again, we got back up and hit back harder. Given the right tools, vaccination, we made a difference when we couldn’t make one before. We believed in a better future, and now, a year later when we look at our family gathered around the Christmas table, we should feel nothing but great happiness – joy – knowing how far we’ve come in the face of something that once seemed larger than life. We proved we’re bigger and stronger than anything life can throw at us if we band together like we did this last year.

From all of us here at Ephraim McDowell, we wish you all a joyful holiday season and a very Merry Christmas.