To quote a famous movie line, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” That’s Peter Finch as Howard Beale in director Sidney Lumet’s 1976 drama “Network.”
Well, I’m mad as hell, too. But I’ll have to keep on taking it, and so will tens of millions of us who are fully vaccinated, as long as millions more fully eligible fellow Americans refuse to get a COVID shot.
About 3 percent of us have valid medical reasons–rather than lame excuses (fear of needles?!)–not to get vaccinated. My wife was one with a valid reason. I say “was” because she’s now fully recovered and fully vaccinated and just this morning (Monday as you read this) got her third shot, a booster. Liz’s surgeon advised her not to get a vaccine until three months past her kidney transplant because her immune system was compromised by medication that kept her body from rejecting the alien kidney. Her dosage was lowered by steps to the point where she could again produce antibodies. She was cleared for vaccination and now a booster shot.
During those post-January months when Liz was especially vulnerable to all kinds of infections, I grew increasingly impatient with people who refused to get vaccinated unless they were cancer patients, transplant recipients, or had some other immunological issues. But who knows?
Now, however, I’m really angry about no-excuses public refuseniks–even you, Lamar Jackson. I’ll still root for the Ravens, but you are putting all your teammates and everyone you come in contact with at-risk, having twice tested COVID-positive. When a star athlete doesn’t say whether he’s taken the shot or not, you can be sure he has not.
I’m even angrier at politicians and so-called journalists–especially you, Tucker Carlson–who spread disinformation about COVID. I won’t repeat his their lies because it would only validate them to those of you listening to these vile public figures who apparently don’t care about life and death, as long as they’re not at risk. I’m looking straight at you, Sen. Rand Paul, an even poorer excuse for a doctor than you are as a public servant.
When politicians won’t say whether they’ve gotten the vaccine, you can be sure they have. Even Donald Trump admitted he’s vaccinated. As for Paul, he claims he doesn’t need one because he already contracted COVID. Don’t believe him. He’s an idiot if he thinks that protects him. He’s too conniving for idiocy.
Why am I angrier now than back in the spring when Liz was way less protected? None of us knew as much about the vaccine in February and March, when I got my two shots. But there are no excuses now. If you are still on the fence, get off it NOW. (“Just get the damn shot,” President Biden advises, like it or not.) If you don’t, all you have to lose is your life or that of others, including loved ones. But if you’re just stubbornly refusing because it’s your freedom to do so, you’re an idiot, ignoramus, or idealogue. Probably all three. Or maybe you’re another type of I person, the capitalized kind who only cares about him- or herself.
At this rate, the now-rampant Delta variant spreading all through unvaccinated America is killing people who almost certainly would NOT DIE if more of you got the shot. The resurgence of this pandemic is YOUR FAULT. Maybe not yours individually, but you are definitely a major part of the problem and zero contributor to the solution. You provide harbors for the virus to mutate.
Many of you complain about school mask mandates, too. Without them, your kids and those of vaccinated friends and relatives are more likely to spend another semester or two learning exclusively online. If that happens, it will be your fault and that of like-minded cohorts. If there’s a widespread mask mandate again, if restaurants and theaters and other indoor activities are shut down again, look in the mirror to see who’s to blame. You may wind up homeschooling your kids. Fine, if that’s your choice. But forget about two incomes in your family. Does that make you an idiot? Maybe not, but don’t project that choice on other families. Many of you tout freedom of choice in the case of school kids wearing masks but are the first to deny it to a pregnant woman making a far more difficult choice you know nothing about.
In any case, you are not free to infect the rest of us with a cataclysmic virus any more than you’re free to set fire to a school that mandates masks, vaccines, or both. Those of us of a certain age (I’m in my 70s) were required to be vaccinated in order to attend public school, going as far back as the early ’50s when a nurse popped me a sugar cube to prevent polio. At age 5, I had no choice. But I’m grateful to have possibly avoided a crippling disease and an iron lung. Nearly all of us had to get measles shots to go to school. I even had a chickenpox shot. It didn’t matter that I’d already had chickenpox. (Take that, Rand Paul.)
If you believe what you read on the Internet instead of what scientists and medical professionals tell you, you’re an idiot. Or at least delusional on this subject. Should you choose to believe that the Earth is flat, you can find that, too, on the Internet. Yet even trained nurses say they won’t get the shot because it once took decades to produce one. How many more hundreds of thousands would have died without this vaccine? Techniques improve over time because scientists learn from experience and, yes, mistakes.
If you don’t know what scientists and medical professionals say about the efficacy of COVID vaccines–more than 90 percent of those who die of the Delta variant are unvaccinated–well, then you’re an ignoramus. And if you don’t get the shot or wear a mask because you think Donald Trump or someone emulating him would disapprove (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for one, threatening to dock educators their pay for mandating school masks), you’re an ideologue–likely an idiot and ignoramus, too.
Insulting, perhaps, on my part. But look at what’s at stake. Wear a mask, take a shot. What are you afraid of?
If millions of Americans who are eligible get the vaccine instead of thinking they know best–they clearly do not or selfishly do not care–we can beat this thing together. It doesn’t have to be another deadly autumn and even darker winter. How about holidays without your parents (probably already vaccinated) allowed to see their grandchildren? Again.
It’s up to you. Based on the evidence so far, I’m not optimistic you’ll come through. Prove me wrong. I dare you. I’ll celebrate you if you do. Americans who want to survive and get on with their lives as we remember it will be grateful for your conversion.
Steve Parks is a retired journalist now living in Easton.