Coronavirus is no joke

“I’m so scared you’ll die, Grandma”

Thea Christine Økland

Photo: private
Thea Christine Økland feared she would die from COVID-19.

Bergen, Norway

The live broadcast of the first corona vaccination [being administered] in this country was a serious moment that brought a tear to my eye. I have no doubts about getting the vaccine when it’s my turn.

Soon we will have a year behind us with an intervention we could not imagine last year at this time. March 12, 2020, was a turning point for all of us. My then 11-year-old grandson spontaneously exclaimed, “I’m so scared you’ll die, Grandma!”

And I did become one of those who got infected with the coronavirus in August. Isolated in my own vacation cabin for almost 14 days with a few days of supervision by the doctor’s office. Days in isolation with fever, pain, and an impaired overall condition—and not least, uncertainty about the outcome. I was thinking I could die.

But I survived, despite the risk of my age group. In retrospect, I experienced this time of illness as both frightening and unreal. Not in the least because of the responsibility placed on us who become ill to not infect others. Not to mention the stigma we may experience.

While those who are admitted to the hospital are tested twice before being discharged, those of us who get sick at home are given the responsibility for being free of symptoms, without any need for testing before we can re-enter into the public sphere again. The requirement is to be symptom-free for three days. But what is “symptom-free” when there have been so many symptoms with this virus?

I didn’t feel great when I left the cabin—neither physically nor mentally. A better follow-up with testing was lacking for those who had to “serve time” at home.

Many are skeptical about the vaccine because of the side effects. There is always some risk with all vaccines, no matter what. This also applies to the flu vaccine. But in light of what this virus can cause, I, who have suffered through the disease, am in no doubt about what I would recommend and choose for myself.

Of two evils, you have to choose one. COVID-19 is no joke.

And as Svein at the Ellingsrud nursing home [the first Norwegian to receive the vaccine in Oslo] said, he had been waiting for this day. He was proud to make history in the fight against the virus. The vaccine is an instrument of freedom.

Translated by Lori Ann Reinhall

Reprinted with permission from the Jan. 1, 2021, edition of Bergens Tidende. See

The opinions expressed by opinion writers featured in “On the Edge” are not necessarily those of The Norwegian American, and our publication of those views is not an endorsement of them. Comments, suggestions, and complaints about the opinions expressed by the paper’s editorials should be directed to the editor.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 29, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.