The Right Thing

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Well, he went and did it.

In spite of promising otherwise last year, last week our good president issued what amounts to a nationwide vaccine mandate. It was done as an executive order leveraging recently added OSHA regulations to make all private employers with over 100 employees require their workers to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID testing in order to keep their jobs.

Basically, it’s putting it on employers to do the dirty work of enforcement (or risk considerable fines), and it’s giving millions of Americans an ultimatum to either get vaxed, get swabbed for COVID every week, or join the ranks of the unemployed.

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It’s worth noting that this was conveniently done very shortly after the federal emergency unemployment benefits expired. I guess that gives it extra teeth.

But before I go any further with this rant, I want to make it clear that I think that the vast majority of people should get vaccinated for COVID – and that the way this issue is being politicized by both sides is beyond stupid.

Locally, the dying died down for a while during spring and summer after spiking back in the winter months, but it’s starting to crank back up again. Several Carroll Countians have died from COVID over the past month or so, bringing the local death toll to over 90, and, as I’ve heard, a couple of those who recently died were relatively young.

So, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated for one reason or another, you might want to ask yourself a couple of basic questions, just to put things in perspective. Of those who have died, how many did you either know personally or know someone who knew them? And (apart from unverifiable accounts of vaccine deaths and horrible side-effects circulating on the internet) how many people do you personally know who have died from taking the vaccines?

As for myself, I have had to read over the obituaries of scores of local residents claimed by this virus since that first death back in April of last year. And while I’m sure there are some nationally who have had fatal reactions to these vaccines (heck, an unfortunate few die from taking flu vaccines every year), I don’t know of a single person here in Carroll County or where I live in Henry County who has died as a result of taking a COVID shot.

So, unless you’re a special case, I think an honest assessment of the potential risks vs. benefits definitely leans positively toward getting vaccinated.

But, believe me, I do understand why some are hesitant or even outright opposed to getting vaxed. Personally, I’ve got some close relatives who have made it very clear that they will not be taking the vaccine under any circumstances – and I know better than to try to argue with them about it.

And though I think a lot of this comes down to garden variety hard-headedness on some people’s part, it is also my opinion that the messaging from public officials and the national media on just about everything related to this pandemic has been poorly and unwisely conducted from dang near day one. And it’s pretty obvious to me that some in positions of authority have used COVID as a means to expand their power and control, line their pockets, and/or advance their political agendas.

I have little doubt that President Biden’s recent order will be strongly contested in red states (like this one), and, while I’m no constitutional scholar, I suspect that eventually it will probably end up getting either shot down or curtailed by the Supreme Court. But any way you slice it, it’s likely to turn into a big mess and a big fight in the meantime. And I’m curious as to how exactly the feds are going to go about making sure this order gets enforced.

And I’m wondering why so many public officials and top medical professionals have been pretending that there’s no such thing as natural immunity among those who have already had the virus. Natural immunity has long been recognized as an important factor in viral outbreaks – at least before this particular pandemic. But, then again, Big Pharma isn’t raking in billions in taxpayer green from natural immunity.

So I do get it. There’s been a lot of funny business and political nonsense surrounding this pandemic and the vaccines. And the way some are pitting Americans against each other over the vaccination issue is downright sinister and potentially disastrous for this nation.

But, with all that said, it’s still clear to me that these vaccines are saving lives and that some people who have died could have been saved by something that is widely available, statistically safe, and free to everyone. And – apart from all the political tribalism and conflicting messages or even how you feel about being bullied by control freaks with lofty titles – that’s either true or it isn’t. I say it is true, and I think the evidence backs me up on that.

So keep right on fighting the good fight when it comes to preserving our freedoms as Americans, and, by all means, don’t be afraid to call out and resist anyone who tries to take those freedoms away. I’ll be right there with you, defiant to the end.

But if you haven’t been vaccinated, please, please consider doing so – not because I say so or because it’s being forced on you by the government, but because it’s in your best interest, it helps to protect others, and it’s just the right thing and the smart thing to do.

Note: In an ironic turn of events, three members of my household – my mom, sister, and brother-in-law – came down with COVID shortly after I wrote this column. So I’m currently quarantining, working from home, and trying to keep an eye on them while maintaining some distance. So, please, keep them in prayer, and pray that the Moderna shots I took back in April and May hold up and keep COVID at bay. But I still stand by what I’ve written. Getting vaxed does not mean you’re bowing to authoritarianism, and preserving freedom and supporting public health don’t have to be mutually exclusive. That’s just silly.