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 Gov. 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. 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 Mainstreet Newspapers. She can be reached at margie@mainstreetnews.com.

(1) comment

Stephanie Harvin

If the vaccines are safe and effective as quoted in this article then why are people mad at the ones not getting it? Why are you all not angry at the creators of the vaccine or the ones telling you it will protect you? It’s obviously not doing it’s job if those who have it are still getting and spreading COVID. Can you name one other vaccine that people got all up in arms about because their neighbor didn’t take it? It’s not the responsibility of the unvaccinated to protect the vaccinated. That is the vaccines job. If it’s not a true vaccine then let’s stop calling that.

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