Notice: Religion? Politics? Freedom? These are not valid reasons to refuse a COVID vaccine

22 October 2021

One of the most puzzling and disturbing aspects of the coronavirus pandemic for most Americans is the refusal of a substantial minority to get vaccinated because of religion, politics, or the desire for personal freedom.

Why would a reasonable person without a specific medical problem refuse a safe and free vaccine that could prevent death and protect their immediate family?

It’s like refusing to put on a seat belt, turning off a smoke detector, walking the train tracks with headphones, or leaving loaded guns in the family home.

Adding to the confusion is a new ad campaign by Irvine-based TRAFFIC not only to oppose vaccination mandates, but to celebrate frontline workers who refuse them.

“These frontline workers sacrifice while defending freedom, and we must take action to ensure discrimination has no place in any industry.” said Anthony Trimino, CEO of TRAFFIK.

Religion, politics, and freedom are important to most Americans. But none of this is a good reason to take a stand against personal security.

Take religion. It’s hard to see how a benevolent God would have humanity not protect itself from a new virus, and the mainstream religions all support vaccination. There are religious leaders who oppose vaccination, just as there are fringe religions who support everything from witchcraft to LSD. Not all religious beliefs are equally serious.

Political opposition to vaccination is a strange shift in Republican thinking during the pandemic. that of President Trump Operation Warp Speed succeeded in rapidly developing effective vaccines. Now he is implying that taking these vaccines is disloyal. The Republican governors of Texas and Florida have seized on this and are working to end the vaccination warrants. It’s like Republicans want their constituents to die.

Freedom is the most problematic reason, and for anti-vaccines it is a conception of freedom in college – freedom from all compulsion. Perhaps it worked in a sparsely populated early America, where your actions had little impact on your neighbors. But it is a recipe for calamity in 21st century America of 330 million people.

The position of an unvaccinated individual for freedom endangers a great deal and imposes costs on others. When you catch the virus, you put others around you at risk, especially children. And if you’re hospitalized, you – or society if you’ve decided that health insurance is an infringement on freedom – face hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs to save your life. And then there are the exhausted and overworked healthcare workers who have to try to save you when you wouldn’t be making the effort to save yourself. They won’t be very understanding.

Not being vaccinated is not freedom; it is dangerous egocentric selfishness.

Most Americans, especially in California, would agree with this. Just see how easily Gov. Gavin Newsom beat the recall despite some of the toughest lockdowns and one of the most aggressive immunization schedules.

So if the top three reasons for refusing to vaccinate don’t make sense, and most Americans want to protect themselves, why do some people? It all comes down to resistance to change.

For these Americans, 2020 has started with everything OK. The economy was booming, Trump was president, and life looked good. Why did a pandemic have to take it all? It was not “fair”, and some would even deny that there is a pandemic.

But like it or not, a virus has evolved into something deadly, as it happened a century ago in the aftermath of a disastrous world war that left many people confused. Science didn’t understand viruses in 1918, but at least recommended masks, and some Americans rebelled.

When we look back on the pandemic in a decade or two, history won’t be kind to anti-vaccines. They will not be remembered as heroes, but as sad and misguided figures in contradiction with reality.

Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of The Times of San Diego. She is fully vaccinated and received her Moderna booster on Friday.


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Minnie J. Leonard