I read the news from a lot of sources most every day, hard as that is. The more I read about covid vaccine refusals, even from those in health care, the more flummoxed I am about the ignorant stubbornness of so many people, much of it along political lines.

My goodness, this is a public health crisis that affects every single person in this world.

It seems to me that those who still refuse to get a covid vaccine after all we’ve been through with more than a year and a half of this pandemic are trying to prove some kind of point.

What that point is, I really have no idea.

Other than those whose medical condition prevents vaccines, thus leaving them entirely vulnerable to the decisions of others, there isn’t one legitimate reason not to get a vaccine that can likely save your life and the lives of the those around you. The selfishness of that choice is overwhelming to me.

Really what is the point? Is it, “watch me die if I want to?” Is it “watch me take up valuable hospital space so that there is no room for you or your loved one?”

What is it?

Some political officials, including our own Governor Brian Kemp, say President Biden’s vaccine mandate (which really isn’t a mandate since you can test once per week if you just can’t bear to take the shot) is a government overreach and un-American.


All this buffoonery in states that have some of the highest real and long-held vaccine mandates to attend public school in the country.

And just how many vaccines do you think the military requires? A healthy defense force is imperative for obvious reasons.

This virus, as we’ve all seen by now, unless we live in a deep dark hole in the ground (or in our own mind), is as big a threat to the health and wellbeing of our citizens and our economy as any disease we’ve faced.

And it keeps changing as it keeps infecting unchecked in so many areas, all because so many of us refuse to try to stop it – first by wearing a piece of material over our mouth and OUR NOSE – and because we refuse to take a vaccine that can put us all beyond this.

It is remarkable that we find ourselves in this place at this time, when we are all are generally more than happy to reap the benefits of modern medicine, including when we need to be hospitalized for covid.

I am dumbfounded.

The long history of vaccine mandates in this country that have kept us healthy of so many previously dangerous diseases, and which are largely unquestioned, leaves me even more amazed. Vaccinations are truly a miracle of the medical world, teaching the body to defend itself against a disease that could otherwise sicken and perhaps even kill it.

I am running out of adjectives for my feelings.

And don’t get me started on religion.

The first commandment as a Christian is to love thy neighbor as thyself — not religious freedom. I really can’t bear the hypocrisy of that argument.

Nobody is dragging you to get a shot, but if you don’t there should be a price to pay. The vaccine/testing requirements are simply a way to try to put the price of your decision squarely on you instead of on those around you that you might infect.

Right now, your choice allows a deadly disease to keep circulating.

We are behind most wealthy countries in vaccination rates. Poor countries are begging for more while we throw them away.

My pulmonologist, Dr. Andrew McKown, wrote an excellent opinion column published in MainStreet Newspapers last week. He also serves as the critical care physician for Piedmont Athens Regional. In it he expressed my feelings exactly and I certainly don’t see firsthand what he does day in and day out. He said he found it “dizzying, angering and disheartening” to care for young people in the hospital on the brink of death and then go out in public to do basic shopping and find himself surrounded by people walking around unmasked and seemingly unaware of the crisis in their local hospitals, pushing the point that it isn’t just about covid, but also about hospital care for victims of a heart attack, a car wreck or any other emergency.

“Is the mild discomfort of wearing a mask too much to ask?” Dr. McKown asked. “I wear one all day long. Yes, the studies have been done – they are proven to work. The same is true for the vaccines, which by this point are not experimental. They have been proven to be safe and effective.”

You may not trust Dr. McKown’s statements for reasons that remain a complete mystery to me in terms of common sense. But he is also right when he said in his letter that you will most certainly gladly trust him to care for you when you go to the hospital and are in need of care – care that may not be able to receive right away due to the line in front of you.

I’m sorry but your personal choice ends where society’s right to life and health begins. It’s the reason and basis for laws, rules, regulations, vaccines and so much more and it is way past time to face that fact with the covid vaccines.

That’s the way it has always been in a society that survives.

Margie Richards is a reporter and columnist for The Madison County Journal. She can be reached at margie@mainstreetnews.com.

(7) comments

Christine Hunt

Excellent article, Ms. Richards. Let's not be "cut off your nose to spite yourself" people. Let's all unite in fighting this virus that has killed nearly 700,000 of our fellow Americans and get vaccinated. Don't let your pride stand in the way of protecting yourself and those around you. Yes unfortunately some of us may still get Covid in spite of being double vaccinated but the majority of those cases will be mild. Now in fact we all need a booster shot mainly because some will choose not to be vaccinated. Let's stand together and pray that an even more virulent strain than Delta will not come to pass because of the those not willing to do their part. Please.

Stephanie Harvin

We are now second class citizens

Bryce Hix

Oh no, this choice I've made has some mild societal consequences! Woe is me!

Terry McCannon

My 2cents. The vaccine does not stop the virus, at all. If it worked that way, why are vaccinated folks still getting sick? Please answer that. And since they are getting the virus, they are also spreading it. So ONLY purpose to have the vax is to reduce the severity of symptoms to the vaccinated person.

Virginia Moss

This is logical thinking. Perhaps the viral load the vaccinated person spreads is much lighter than a non-vaccinated person would spread giving the exposed person a lower dose which causes less severe symptoms. Our major issue is severe COVID-19, not stopping it altogether. Flu shots don't completely stop the flu virus either, but it sure does mitigate the severity of the sickness, reducing it to a couple of mild days instead of a week or two of serious misery. In the big public health picture, the more people are vaccinated eventually the virus will find it harder and harder to find sources to reproduce enough to continue on and to mutate.

Virginia Moss

I am a senior citizen with a heart condition. I was one of the very first seniors to be vaccinated in Madison County. I never stopped wearing my triple masks and continued my distancing and hand washing as well as staying home most of the time. I remain COVID-19 free and look forward to getting a booster shot.

On Monday of this week around 4 pm I went to Ingles to buy groceries. I usually go in the mornings when there are few people there, but I encountered whole lots of people. I thought about just going back home, but decided I'd go in and see how many masked shoppers there were. All employees were masked; thank you Ingles!! I consciously noted as many masks as I could during my hour long shopping (I buy as much as I can store so I can put off this task for only once or twice a month). One elderly lady like me was wearing a mask. ONE. Everyone else, old and young and children, were all unmasked in this era of the more virulent delta varient! As I exited the store one, ONE, elderly lady was coming in wearing a mask. So I could say there were two among about 50 shoppers doing the right thing. All those 48 people were a threat to me, the children, the maskless elderly, each other and any immuno-compromised people that any of the shopppers might come across. What is wrong with people? I can only conclude that it's just down-right selfishness.

Ray Brown


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