A year and a half ago, I was on a flight back from Las Vegas with my wife when we started discussing this little epidemic in China which people were concerned might become something bigger. I remember thinking little of it at the time. This wasn’t the first time we had heard similar mutterings. This wasn’t even the first coronavirus we were told could become a pandemic. It wasn’t even a month later when we would be shutting down the country in an effort to try to slow the pace of this incredibly virulent strain of coronavirus so our hospitals wouldn’t be overrun and therefore cause all the issues that happen when you simply don’t have enough hospital staff to take care of the sick people coming through their doors.
Even then, I thought we might be overreacting. Our news cycle has a habit of over-hyping things for us to be scared about in order to increase their ratings, and a not-small part of me thought this could be another one of those situations.
I was wrong.
Whether you want to believe this was a disease released by a lab or some crazy global conspiracy to do…something, people are getting sick and dying and a year and a half ago, we knew next to nothing about this disease. While we were finally shutting down our schools and non-essential businesses, people in Italy were suffocating to death on hospital carts because there wasn’t enough hospital staff or equipment to care for them. Nurses and doctors had their lives upended as they separated themselves from their families in order to keep them safe. All because we really had no clue what we were dealing with and all we could do to stop the spread was to completely separate ourselves from each other until we understood it better.
Yet, while people were dying, plenty of people saw this as an affront to their personal liberties, as opposed to an attempt to stop the flood of sick people, and, well, although we definitely lessened the curve, we got nowhere near stopping this virus. People protested on the streets against not being able to go to bars or because their businesses were being shut down. While we were being told that we should hunker down in our homes until there was a better understanding of what we were up against, people across the world fought to say it wasn’t fair.
Things got a little better when we learned that masks would help slow the spread. This was huge. We could start to open things up again. We could go out into the world again because we had a method by which to keep from spreading this sometimes-deadly disease to others. We could live our lives again, as long as we were willing to live those lives with a piece of fabric on our faces.
That still wasn’t good enough for everyone because it took away from our personal liberties. While I can’t go around town without pants because of public decency laws, people were protesting in the streets because they were being told to wear something over their mouths and noses. Heck, people started talking about masks like they were part of some tyrannical government conspiracy which apparently has the same business strategy as the underpants gnomes. Here medical science had given us an answer about how we might be able to safely go about our normal lives once again even with this disease spreading across the globe like a gender reveal party wildfire, and we got mad because it makes us smell our own disgusting breath.
Luckily, our medical scientists moved quickly and within a year of us even knowing that COVID-19 existed in people, we had multiple incredibly effective vaccines available and approved for use in humans. And although the people who were most vulnerable to the virus appeared willing to sign up for this protection right off the bat, it became apparent quickly that many of the people across the globe, but especially here in the United States, saw the vaccine as still yet too much to ask of them.
As someone who has a historical terror whenever the needles come out, I understand the absolute fear people might struggle with which could lead to them not getting vaccinated. I’ll reluctantly admit I’ve never gotten a flu shot. You see, I’ve always seen the flu shot as something to get to keep yourself from getting sick, which is definitely a part of it, but I had never considered how the flu shot is important for keeping other people from getting sick.
Like the COVID vaccines.
There has been no secret message about why we wear masks or why it’s important to get vaccinated from COVID-19. Yes, the hope is that these things will keep you safe, but it has ALWAYS been about how important these things are about keeping other people safe. Like my kids, who, as of right now, two out of the three of them are unable to be vaccinated because they are too young.
But let’s be honest here. None of this is really about the medical science, is it? I mean, if the doctor tells you that you have cancer and the best method for recovery is to go through chemotherapy, how many of you anti-vaxxers are going to turn down the poisonous chemicals they are going to suggest to use to clear your body of the tumors threatening to kill you. Sleep apnea masks are, from what I’ve heard, terribly uncomfortable, but are you going to choose to die in your sleep for your personal liberties instead of taking your doctor’s suggestion on how to help you deal with your COPD?
Either this is about how little you care about other people, verses yourself, or this is a purely political statement you’re trying to make.
Based on the discussions I see floating around social media, I’m not even sure many of you would deny this is a political statement. And that’s terrifying. When we’re deciding our course of action for public health purely on political messages, what does that mean for the future of humanity?
But is there a way we can look at this past the political messaging?
I mean, we could definitely battle this from the standpoint that Donald Trump was the guy who started Operation: Warp Speed. He’s the guy who threw all the money at the vaccines. We even saw Biden’s administration give Trump the credit for their work with getting the vaccines rolling. By all means, the political sides on this should be reversed. Yet, somehow the vaccine is seen as some sort of liberal propaganda.
But maybe there is some logic you’re working on past the political piece. Like, maybe you simply don’t trust the vaccines. I honestly wish you would do the research and see how this is medical science at its finest and how much the work, especially with mRNA, is going to make drastic positive changes for how we look at diseases in general. I have a cardiologist friend who has been telling me about all the amazing things they have been working on for mRNA vaccines for heart disease for years. This isn’t just some fly by night finding that we’re just now trying out for the first time. We’ve been working on this for years and lucky for us, battling COVID is something these types of vaccinations is perfectly suited for.
But, okay, fine, you’re still on the fence. I beg you to reconsider, but if you’re immovable on the subject of vaccines, I still don’t understand the adamancy against masking. I’ve been watching my friends and family argue about having kids wear masks in schools, even during the midst of the heights of the case and death counts, stating how unnecessary it is because of how these kids don’t get that sick if they get it. First of all, kids are still dying, whether or not they are the big case numbers. And the Delta variant is causing even greater issues for kids. But, regardless of whether or not the kids get very sick, schools are our number one way of passing diseases around a community. It’s why the schools were the first things to shut down back at the start of this whole mess. For as long as my kids have been in school, the second a cold or anything goes through the school, my entire household gets sick. All of us. And it passes on to our family members who come to visit. Do you honestly believe this would be any different with COVID?
By removing masks in schools, especially in areas with large outbreaks, we’re turning our kids into biological bombs. Consider briefly the math of having 300 kids in a school getting sick with a disease like this which passes rapidly between them because we don’t want them to have to wear masks. That’s at least 100 households (I’m giving an average of three kids per family per school, which is a high average) that now has this disease. And then those other family members pass it along to wherever else they are going without their masks. This is how the disease wins, folks.
As best as I can tell, there isn’t a single person in the world right now (outside, I guess, of this secret global cabal who developed this pandemic for some sort of extra secret profit) who doesn’t want the pandemic to be over. Everyone is exhausted by cancelled events and closed stores and all of the hundreds of others of non-sickness impacts caused by COVID and yet what it sounds like to me from those who are anti-mask and anti-vax is that we should just do nothing. Sweden did nothing and they’re still actively working to get their entire country vaccinated. Doing nothing does exactly that…nothing.
And the one place I’ve seen the do nothing message come through the strongest, it’s with Christians. Since day one I’ve seen folks posting the message of “God will keep me safe”. Isn’t the way that God keeps you safe through things like medical science, unless, I suppose, you’re a Jehovah’s Witness. We don’t walk into busy intersections with our eyes closed because we know that’s stupid and there is an expectation that God uses things like crosswalk signals to keep us safe. God asks his followers to consider their bodies as temples to him and to therefore be good stewards of this temple. That’s Christianity 101. God put a freaking tree in the Garden of Eden and said don’t eat from this tree. He didn’t say: “Oh, just do whatever and I’ll make sure you only have rainbows and lollipops in your life.” We can’t simply live our lives the way we want and expect God to make sure nothing goes wrong in our lives. His has an expectation for personal responsibility. And he’s also a big fan of caring for your neighbor. I don’t see how things like masks and vaccines don’t fall directly in line with the Bible’s message about how to live your life.
Yet, even with all of this said, I’m still incredibly hopeful that there are more people avoiding the vaccine out of fear instead of hiding behind their political/religious biases as a reason to not do something they don’t want to do. In other words, I’m hoping more of you are scared than are like the lady I saw at Kohl’s last spring telling the person at the door that they had a religious exemption to masks.
As such, I hope to give you a few reasons to maybe bypass those fears.
1. I hate needles. Although I get them weekly (because of my allergy shots and donations to the red cross), I still jump and want to cry every time I get pricked by one. When I received the Pfizer vaccine (both the first and second doses), I didn’t even realize I had been jabbed until after they were done. Now, this might have been due to the delicate touch of the person jabbing me, but the reality here is that it’s a small needle, it’s a small amount of liquid, and it’s seriously one of the least painful injections I’ve ever had, if not the least.
2. Although the mRNA vaccines have been studied at length for over a decade and were already nearly ready to be released for several different uses, I get that this is a new style of medicine with some information (whether it is true or not) that can be kinda scary. Lucky for you, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is like those good old vaccines you know and love. Sure, I suppose if you’re a part of the old school anti-vaxxer crowd, you might still have fears of autism and whatnot, (which, honestly, then you should go for the mRNA vaccines, because they don’t have those nasty preservatives that you’ve been told to fear), but the reality here is that the reality of passing around a disease which has been shown to kill is far worse than the (disproven) fears that these vaccines could maybe possibly, in very small amount of cases, cause autism.
3. I miss the normal. My kids will be vaccinated as soon as they are able, but I miss taking them to the movie theaters and on plane rides, and to places where there are billions of people all coughing and breathing on each other. But I can’t, in good conscience, do that until they are safe to not be passing this disease around to other folks who aren’t vaccinated, whether for their own health reasons or fears or because they, like you, simply can’t get themselves to do it. If you have no legitimate reason to not get vaccinated, you should really get yourself vaccinated. So we can get rid of the masks, so we can be indoors together, so people can feel safe being around other people.
And finally, if you’re not vaccinated, wear a damned mask. And if you’re in a place with a current outbreak, wear one even if you are. The flu was nearly unseen in our hospitals this year because masking and social distancing guidelines work to keep us from passing diseases. At this point, if you’re actively fighting against mask wearing simply because you don’t like it, you are showcasing a severe disregard for the safety of others. None of us like wearing masks, but many of us also aren’t big fans of being the reason someone else gets sick and dies.
Look, I get it. The information about COVID has been difficult to keep up with. Things change on an almost weekly basis. First the CDC says masks won’t help, then they say they will. First we hear about how few people will be impacted by the disease then we hear how we need to shut everything down. First we hear that vaccination will almost completely protect us from COVID then we hear that there’s a Delta variant that causes an increase in breakthrough cases. Heck, even back at the beginning of this whole thing I posted an article on here suggesting we approach this disease like we did the chicken pox when I was a kid. Yeah, it was a tongue in cheek article, but I’ll admit I wasn’t completely convinced it was a terrible idea. But the truth is that even those chicken pox parties were dangerous. Kids die from the chicken pox and we were passing it around like weird little 80s kid petri dishes. COVID is far more deadly than the chicken pox. Sure, maybe you won’t die from it, but many will and have. And by not being willing to take some simple precautions to keep the disease from spreading, you could be directly responsible for someone’s death. All because you simple don’t want to do the things you’re being told are the responsible things to do.
If there is no greater good than to lay down one’s life for a friend, surely getting vaccinated (or wearing a mask) for a stranger has to be a pretty awesome thing to do as well.