Constable: Who is vaccinated? If only 'vaxdar' were real

  • This well-worn COVID-19 vaccination record card from my wallet proves that I am fully vaccinated. But even I think it looks a little sketchy.

    This well-worn COVID-19 vaccination record card from my wallet proves that I am fully vaccinated. But even I think it looks a little sketchy. Courtesy of Cheryl terHorst

Updated 5/4/2021 6:23 AM

Some people profess to possess gaydar, which gives them the power to tell if a person is gay. They say they can tell by the hair, clothes, watchband, shoes, and other things that have nothing to do with sexual identity. But gaydar is very fallible, and the whole idea of it is offensive.

I don't even have gendar, as guessing the gender of a person could be as dangerous as asking someone when the baby is due. Unless a person spots me a pronoun, I find a way to avoid using "he," "she" or "they."


Private stuff is private. I wouldn't even want gaydar or gendar.

But I do wish I had vaxdar -- the ability to see if that person not wearing a mask is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Since no one is forced to wear scarlet letters (V for vaccinated and A for anti-vaxxer), vaxdar would come in handy.

Fully vaccinated, my wife and I dined at a restaurant for the first time in 415 days this weekend. We wore our masks until we reached our table on the outdoor patio at this Glenview restaurant, as did our fully vaccinated dear friends from Libertyville. We've known each other since the 1980s, and nobody had any doubt that everyone else had been vaccinated. But none of us offered proof.

Apparently blessed with agedar, the wait staff could tell by looking at us that there was no need to check the birth dates on our driver's licenses before serving us alcohol. But they (or he or she) didn't have any idea if we were vaccinated.

Even if I whipped out my vaccination card, who can tell if I really am vaccinated? Is a paper card proof? How would people know my card were more valid than an out-of-state driver's license offered by an underage drinker?

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Even when legit, it's dangerous to read too much into a certification card. I keep my vaccination card in my wallet next to my Firearm Owner's Identification card, and, except for one afternoon in 2006 to show some NRA members I could shoot a gun without wetting myself, I haven't fired a gun since the 1970s. My mother somehow passed a vision test at age 90 and received a driver's license, which she wanted but didn't use because she knew she had lost the ability to drive.

Just as there are fake IDs for people who want to buy alcohol before they turn 21, there are fake COVID-19 test results and phony vaccination IDs for people who want to pretend to be patriotic Americans. The International Air Transport Association reported during the weekend that passengers already are using fake vaccination certificates.

There are people who fraudulently have pretended to be Vietnam veterans, STD-free, Purple Heart recipients, Mensa members or reserves on the 1985 Chicago Bears. Who's to know? My dentist has a diploma hanging in his office, and I believe him, but I probably could whip up a duplicate diploma with my name on it if I were willing to spend a little time at the local print shop formerly known as Kinko's.

As a reporter, I've had several people give me fake names to see if I'll quote them in the paper. One married man with a female companion, who was not his wife, hesitated a touch too long before giving his name as John Smith.

I sometimes tell strangers I'm vaccinated in the hopes they'll respond, "Me, too." But it's tricky. Employers and businesses are still figuring it out. Mask-wearers have their reasons.

During this pollen season, I've noticed my mask seems to keep me from sneezing when I mow the lawn. I know Fox personality Tucker Carlson says to confront people with masks. But telling a stranger to take off a mask because you think it's not needed is the same as telling a person to ditch a cane, wrist brace, hearing aids, wheelchair, glasses or handicap parking permit. There's no such thing as vaxdar.

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