It’s been a roller-coaster year, and I feel compelled to share my personal experience with COVID-19 in the hopes of changing someone’s mind — or even save a life.
Let’s say I told you the upcoming Powerball numbers or gave you the winning ticket for a car or a house. You’d probably run straight for that huge financial reward, yet I still see way too many are unwilling to step up and protect themselves or their loved ones during these difficult times.
In January, as part of the Seminole County effort to boost vaccination among Hispanics over 65, I made it my mission to get people vaccinated. For their own personal reasons, some of my friends, those I have known for a very long time, refused to get vaccinated. I get it, this was their personal choice, and though disappointed, I respected it.
Sadly, several weeks later, a close friend I’ve known my whole life contracted COVID-19 and a month later passed away. He regretted not getting the vaccine when he had the opportunity to do so. Now it was too late.
In essence, I gave them the winning lottery numbers, and they chose not to play them.
With the recent increase in infections across many areas of Florida and the United States, we are seeing a high percentage of those contracting COVID-19 and being subsequently hospitalized are unvaccinated.
Last year our niece passed away from this virus while in the hospital being treated for something else. She did nothing wrong, yet sadly it took her beautiful life.
Then in December, I contracted this horrible, dreaded virus which I unknowingly and regrettably passed to my wife, Virginia. I also exposed my mother-in-law and my elderly parents.
Thankfully, we got them vaccinated immediately, and they never contracted COVID-19.
I believe eradicating this disease is contingent upon everyone doing their part by vaccinating, masking and/or social distancing. We have learned so much in the past year and a half since this first appeared. Because there is so much unverified and misinformation on the internet, I wanted to share my own, personal experience, so you know the truth. I don’t believe in mandatory vaccinations, but I encourage those to consider vaccinating, so they do not regret it later.
This virus is ugly, and no one should become infected or possibly die because they are ill-informed.
Virginia and I made the personal choice, although we already had COVID-19 and the antibodies in our system, to get the Pfizer vaccine in April. The main reason is we did not want to go through catching COVID-19 again, especially with the delta variant running rampant around.
Second, we love cruising and traveling. It seems like the new normal to be able to enjoy all these things is to be vaccinated. Sure, unvaccinated can do all these things but would have to go through many hurdles and testing, vaccinated folks won’t have to do. This is just the reality.
Third, I’m doing my part to try to eradicate this thing. It’s how I am giving back to my community. Hopefully, we all can do the same.
Fourth, it’s been eight months, and I still don’t have my sense of smell or taste back.
Try eating your favorite Spanish food without being able to taste it — and Virginia cooks great Spanish food!
I know some will want to talk to me about all the theories, websites, and other information and misinformation out there.
Trust me; I’ve seen and read them all. My comment to all is: “I respect your decisions, please respect mine.”
In the end, we are all on borrowed time in this life. Let’s all make sure we are here long enough to enjoy our lives and families.
God bless you!
Former Rep. Bob Cortes is Senior Administrator for Community Affairs at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.