July 25, 2021

How can we get Along with Loved Ones who Choose not to Get the Vaccine?


I have a problem I need to sort through that has weighed heavily on my mind since the vaccines have been available in the United States.

Since I work for a hospital, I was able to get my first one in January and my second one in February—with no side effects.

Just an ouchy arm for a day or so which responded well to an ice pack. I am not magnetized (although there are some people who would say I am magnetic). I saw a news clip of a nurse in Ohio who testified that since getting her vaccines, metal objects stick to her. She used a hairpin and a key to prove her contention.

Try as she might, each time I saw them fall off as soon as she placed them on herself. Heck, just for giggles, I tried it myself. Nope. Didn’t work.

No women near me had menstrual issues or fertility issues because I was vaccinated. The Moderna vaccine, which I had, didn’t jump from me to anyone else.

Dr. Risa Hoshino, a board-certified pediatrician and public health advocate, called out the claims on her Instagram page, where she regularly publishes videos and fact-checks centered on COVID-19 misinformation.

“The shot cannot be shed. The shots hold a temporary message that codes for the spike protein, which is a harmless piece of the virus that cannot harm people,” Hoshino wrote. She continues, “The message is like a Snapchat; it disappears quickly and will not stay in the body long-term. It’s not a live virus, so, therefore, it cannot shed—only live viruses such as actual SARS-CoV-2 can do this.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has explained the dreaded and predictable outcome of beliefs in conspiracy theories.

Vaccine hesitancy or outright refusal is contributing to the ramping up of the Delta variant since it is preying on unvaccinated hosts. To date, hospitals have reported an uptick in infections and deaths of those who have not been vaccinated. The states that have the highest death rates also have the lowest vaccination rates.

Others who have been fully vaccinated have tested positive since there is not 100 percent efficacy, but their symptoms are much less severe.

On their deathbeds, people are begging for the vaccine, only to be told it’s too late.

Last night I watched an interview with a woman from Florida who admittedly bought into the conspiracy theory that it was a government plot to control us. Neither she nor her husband nor her children were vaccinated (the kids were too young anyway).

All of them contracted COVID-19. All of them recovered, but her case was more severe.

She was sitting outside her home, an oxygen tube in her nose as she shared how desperately ill she had become. When she was in the ICU, she said it felt like even with oxygen on full blast, she had to gasp for each breath as if she had a plastic bag over her head.

She regrets her choice, and apparently, once she is strong enough, she will get the vaccine.

I have friends who have lost loved ones and have had to say their goodbyes as they watch them take their last breath via Zoom or Facetime. I have a friend who lost multiple family members early on. I have friends and family members who have been seriously ill. I have medical professional friends who have been on the front lines from the get-go—and they are friggin’ exhausted.

The reasons for reluctance or refusal vary, from uncertainty about the potential side effects and belief in aforementioned misinformation that morph into deliberate disinformation.

Unchecked social media posts spread these rumors in ways as insidiously viral as COVID-19 itself. They take the form of believing the former guy (Donald Trump) who nearly died from the disease and then, without fanfare (uncharacteristic of him), took it.

Even politicians and journalists who have taken it aren’t shouting from the mountain tops that people ought to take the jab.

What surprises me is that people who were touting Operation Warp Speed as a tremendous accomplishment brought to the country by Trump, aren’t cheering on Biden for carrying the baton in the relay race and getting shots in arms through various campaigns.

If their guy didn’t follow through, does that mean it isn’t a good thing? The virus, the mask-wearing, and the vaccines are not inherently political, but people have made them that way.

There are also 12 influencers, known as the Disinformation Dozen, who use Facebook as a way of spreading disinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines with seemingly as much rapidity as the virus itself—including noted anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Sadly, I have friends who willingly, steadfastly believe it. For my own peace of mind, I have disconnected with them on social media because their posts had me shaking my head in dismay, wondering how they had gone so far off the rails—they might feel the same way about me.

For some people, it is not easily accessible because of their location. For others, it is about not wanting to be controlled by the government, damn the consequences.

Would these people say they’re not going to let anyone tell them to wear a seatbelt or adhere to the no shirt, no shoes, no service sign on restaurants and stores?

Would they refuse to have their children safely ensconced in a car seat because it’s inconvenient? Are they going to say they are going to smoke and drink wherever the hell they please? Are they going to claim their right to drink and drive?

I am all about personal choice and body sovereignty, as well as informed consent for any medical procedure folks have.

Equally, I believe in the good of the community. In “The Wrath of Khan” (1982), Spock says, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Captain Kirk answers, “Or the one.”

Here’s the dilemma for me. I have intelligent, law-abiding, open minded, politically left of center, holistically oriented, spiritually tuned in, life respecting, Earth healing, tree-hugging (I check off all of those boxes too) friends who will not, at least for now, receive the vaccine.

Admittedly, two that I can think of have health conditions that might make it contraindicated. We’ve had conversations about that. There are others who ask me to respect their choice but have not been willing to talk too much about it. They have all the information.

I have not attempted to change their minds but have been clear that masks will be necessary if they come into my house or if I go into theirs.

Some have partners who have taken it. That is the hardest part for me. My home has always been a welcoming place for gatherings. I will need to make it clear that if people do choose to come, they will need to show proof of vaccination or wear a mask.

I don’t want to ostracize them since I love them.

I also know that I have a responsibility to all of my guests to have a safe environment; just like there is no smoking in or around my home, and I ask people not to smoke before they come over since I am and there might be others who are sensitive to it due to health conditions.

I also have a grandson who is too young to get vaccinated (at 18 months old), and I need to keep him safe. I have not come up with a soul-deep answer for myself as I continue the exploration.

I welcome your thoughts in the comment section.

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