June 19, 2021

Is Not Getting Vaccinated Worse than Racism?

Confessions of an unvaccinated person.

I’m dragging my feet. That’s what you should know first. I’m not vaccinated. I don’t have an appointment.

I’ve been thinking and thinking on it. I’ve had the voice on each shoulder whispering things that aren’t particularly nice to hear in either direction.

Some people might call one chorus of voices angels and the other devils, but that’s not how I see it.

I see and hear my friends, who I love and trust, and they are trusting, liberal or moderate vaccinators. I see and hear my family, who I love and trust, and they are skeptical conservative or moderate anti-Covid-vaccinators. There are probably a few liberals not vaccinating, and probably a few conservatives who are. But they keep quiet and I can see why.

And so I am in the middle, vacillating between the critical thought and the science and everything that others are offering from all directions. I see all the articles and opinions. I avoid writing my own. But this isn’t about where I stand and if it’s right or wrong for me as an individual. That is just an acknowledgment of where I am.

This is about a pondering I’ve recently had:

Is not vaccinating a form of racism? Is it worse?

The other day I pondered that statement that goes something like this: if you’ve ever wondered what you would do back then, you know where you stand now.

How nice retrospect is, I chuckled. How clear it all seems from that vantage point.

Then my mind shot to that other statement that goes something like this: If you’re undecided, you’re for the oppressor.

And so, there I was with those questions. Is this current indecision of mine racism? It’s definitely privilege in both the best and worst of ways. I have the choice, but then I have the choice.

Here’s the thought:

If communities of color are harder hit, might have fewer ways or resources to access vaccines, or fewer reasons to trust that a government-provided injection might actually benefit them, is my choosing to not get vaccinated, in some form, racism—placing my privileged self above the possibly less privileged?

Think about it: I’m driving my car on a major freeway and I need to stop and get gas. As a broad generalization, I’m likely to need to get it in a poorer community or a poorer part of a wealthier community right near the polluted highway. People of color (and poorer individuals in general) are, generalizing broadly, more likely to live in these communities. Gas stations are filled with essential workers who probably need their jobs—jobs they maybe take a bus or two to get to if they don’t have a car.

So here I stroll into a gas station, with an asymptomatic case of Covid. And here is Joe, who can’t afford to take work off and get the vaccine and maybe doesn’t trust a government that hasn’t generally seemed to be much on his side. Joe takes my cash—and my Covid with it. He takes that illness right back to his three kids and wife. Maybe his 90-year-old mom.

Is not vaccinating racist? I talked to a friend about it, and I’ll leave that up to (please, civil) discussion in the comments below, but this is the bottom line that we concluded together:

Not vaccinating is undoubtedly selfism.

And that’s what’s at the foundation of all the other isms. It’s a concentration on self-interest. It’s a system of selfish ethics focused on me, myself, and I.

My health and body above hundreds of thousands of others.

Me. Above hundreds of thousands of others.


I’ll probably end up getting vaccinated.

I’m scared and I’m nervous. In my mind, I’m swallowing fears when looking at the difference between the scientific terms “no evidence” and “evidence of no effect” when it comes to fertility. I want children. I’d like three. But does our planet need my kids if I were to somehow become infertile? Science says there is “no evidence” that the vaccine affects fertility after receiving the vaccine. And so, I’m swallowing this idea that maybe my desire to have children isn’t perhaps as important as global health. And with that pill, too, I’m swallowing the one that reminds me that, at 35, I really have little control over whether I become a mother or not anyway.

In my mind, I’m swallowing fears that no studies have been done on how this vaccine affects people with hemochromatosis (my personally mild genetic blood disorder). Might vaccination translate into serious issues that last a lifetime (which I might experience if I caught Covid, anyway)?

In my mind, I’m swallowing that I’m self-centered in this indecision, this inaction, this uncertainty. And I’m wondering: is this who I want to be?


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