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OPINION | BRENDA LOOPER: Fulfill your duty

by Brenda Looper | April 21, 2021 at 1:02 a.m.
Brenda Looper

I get a distinct “Braveheart” vibe any time I read the comments under posts about covid-19 vaccination. Many of these people probably fancy themselves as William Wallace with all their shouting about “Freedom!!!!” Some of them, predictably, got upset when President Biden said (correctly) that no amendment is absolute. As I noted last week, there are limitations on all of the amendments to the Constitution. Our rights also come with responsibilities, and if you’re not prepared for the consequences of abusing those rights, you’ll get a harsh wake-up call.

We’re free to do most things we want to do, as long as they’re legal. But unless you want to live isolated from the rest of society (enticing, I know), you have to accept the responsibilities that come with living among other people.

Right now, that responsibility includes making sure that you and everyone around you is protected from covid-19.

I know there are still people out there reluctant to get the covid-19 vaccination, and those who don’t want their children to get it either. With reports that the UK variant is spreading and cases are rising, reportedly partially due to unvaccinated young people, I would hope they would rethink their position. Considering that so many of the infected become long-haulers and continue to fight the effects long after the infection’s over, I’d think this would be a no-brainer.

And yet so many insist they won’t get the vaccination. As of late last week, Arkansas finally reached 20 percent of the people fully vaccinated against covid-19 (just over 40 percent with at least one dose); the U.S. stands at about 50 percent with at least one vaccine dose. But this is too far from the herd immunity threshold (70 to 90 percent) for us to get complacent.

There are good reasons for not getting the vaccine, including allergies and pre-existing conditions, but there are a lot of bad reasons out there, such as the debunked tales about tracking chips (there’s no chip in the vaccine) or that the vaccine will give you covid-19 (there is no virus in the vaccine, as it wasn’t made the same way flu vaccines are). There’s also the idea that because the vaccine was developed so quickly, it’s dangerous. The basic method used to create the vaccine had been in development for years, and the Chinese isolated and shared the genetic information promptly, so researchers could make the vaccine and test it as soon as possible.

One of the worst reasons I’ve seen, though, is politics. The New York Times studied data on vaccine administration and hesitancy in nearly all counties in the U.S. and found that “both willingness to receive a vaccine and actual vaccination rates to date were lower, on average, in counties where a majority of residents voted to re-elect former President Donald J. Trump in 2020.” Consequently, in some states there are doses begging for arms, while other states don’t have nearly enough vaccines for those willing to take them.

Measures to counteract covid-19 were politicized early on, and it seems we have yet to put behind us the claims that it’s a hoax, that an epidemiologist who has spent his life researching contagions and how to eradicate them is to blame for the virus, or that the science is wrong because it keeps changing (that’s how science works; when you get new information, a fuller picture emerges, and so there’s new advice).

This isn’t and shouldn’t be about politics, and those who made it partisan should be ashamed of themselves. This is a public health crisis, and we’ve been through crises like this before.

You should get the shot so we can get back to normal sooner, but if you refuse to get the vaccination, you should still do your civic duty to your fellow humans: Wear a mask when you can’t be socially distanced, and wash your hands. The longer you resist because of politics, the longer it will take for us to reach herd immunity, and the longer it will take for us to get out of this mess.

I’m really ready for politics to get in the back seat (or, preferably, in the trunk, possibly tied up).

If that’s not enough to convince you, I’ll share some thoughts from a couple of wise friends.

Birthday buddy Sarah Kinsey Ricard’s older brother and a friend both had covid, and they told her, “You don’t want this.” She got vaccinated because, she said, “I want to travel and go back to the theater and live music venues. I want to see friends and family in person and go to meetings at work and back to church.” My sixth-grade teacher and former neighbor Carol Ferguson told me, “I took the shot as early as I could get it. I’m a believer in vaccines, having taken the Shingrix and pneumonia shots as an older adult. … It seemed to me the choice was the vaccine or the ventilator and possibly dying alone in a hospital. Easy choice for me once the vaccine was declared mostly safe. I grew up when children had several childhood diseases, some with devastating results. Polio was one. Vaccines now prevent most of those diseases.” It was an easy choice for me too. Prepare for hugs, family of mine.

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Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at . Email her at blooper@


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